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ATYL: A Cruel Way to Lose a Race | Cindric Secures Future? | Larson Waiver Update (Race Analysis)

It’s not over until it’s over. It’s a phrase that is often overused, but not in the case of the Enjoy Illinois 500.

The NASCAR Cup Series took to the track at World Wide Technology Raceway in a rather frantic fashion. While drivers were jockeying for track position, two early cautions involving Cody Ware set up a thrilling and confusing strategy war amongst the teams. Keeping up with the chaos became nearly impossible.

What was clear, however, was the strength in Christopher Bell’s No. 20 Toyota Camry XSE and Ryan Blaney’s No.12 Ford Mustang Dark Horse. Both drivers worked hard to out-duel one another on pit road and on track. When Blaney’s neon yellow and black Menard’s /Richmond Water Heaters car was in clean air, he was hard to beat. But when Bell’s Dewalt Camry had the opportunity to race during a green flag run, it was unstoppable.

Blaney had the advantage with 10 laps to go, but lapped traffic stopped his ability to extend his lead. With slower cars holding him up, this gave the No. 20 a chance to get to the bumper of the Team Penske car and battle side by side for the lead. Seeing these two young drivers compete for the win was reminiscent of their battle at Phoenix in the fall. There, both vehicles appeared evenly matched when fighting for the championship.

While the eerily familiar battle played out, a sick sense of déjà vu occurred. Suddenly, the engine in Bell’s car started to fail, and his chances of winning at Gateway were over.

With the No. 20 growing smaller in his rearview mirror, Blaney was smooth sailing to the checkered flag. Or was he?

Qualifying in the second position for the Enjoy Illinois 300 was his teammate, Austin Cindric. In arguably his strongest performance of the season, the 25-year-old maintained his track position for the majority of the day, collecting stage points in both stages. With less than three to go in the race, Cindric started to close the gap to the leader. As the white flag waived, we have a showdown for the win between last year’s champion and the 2022 Daytona 500 winner.

Just then, the unthinkable happened! Coming to the white flag Ryan Blaney, much like Christopher Bell, started to plummet through the field. In a crazy turn of events, the No. 12 had run out of fuel! As Blaney fell back, Cindric charged ahead and broke an 84-race winless streak, locking himself into the playoffs.

How did this happen and what does this mean for Austin Cindric’s 2025 security? Check out the latest episode of Above The Yellow Line with Taylor Kitchen to analyze all the action from Gateway!

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