The fifth running of the Chevrolet Silverado 250, held Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, was full of dramatic action and a few surprises over the course of the 64-lap event.
The biggest, and perhaps most controversial, move of the race came in Turn 5 on the final lap. Rookie Austin Cindric, driving for Brad Keselowski Racing, put the bumper to leader Kaz Grala, running the #33 truck off the course.
The move earned Cindric his first career NASCAR victory, giving him a spot in the Truck Series playoffs.
The timing and aggression of the spin drew criticism from the very driver Cindric was battling for the lead. GMS Racing’s Grala, who would end up finishing in third place, felt the move was too aggressive, and that he would have preferred him and Cindric to finish 1-2.
“I knew it was going to come, there’s always contact in the last few corners here,” Grala said following Sunday’s race. “I think there’s a time and a place to move someone, and that was neither the time, the place, nor the way to go about it.”
Despite having his win snatched away, Grala feels there’s no need for NASCAR to enforce stricter rules, preventing moves like Cindric’s in the future. “Frankly as a race fan myself, I think it’s good to have exciting racing and contact. While there was no need for what happened, I don’t think that’s NASCAR’s place. I think that’s driver respect.”
When asked if he’d be interested in returning the favour in the coming races, Grala took a long pause and appropriately answered “I don’t know.”
Noah Gragson, who currently sits on the outside looking in, in terms of the playoff picture, was probably the biggest benefactor from the move, finishing the race in second place.
The event, which is quickly becoming an opportunity for some of Canada’s best stock car racers to test their skills against the rising stars of NASCAR, was less than friendly to the hometown drivers this weekend.
The highest finishing Canadian was DJ Kennington, who crossed the line in 14th place. Directly behind him was NASCAR Pinty’s Series veteran Jason Hathaway. Alex Tagliani finished one lap down in 19th place, following some mechanical issues at the race’s midway point. Gary Klutt retired late in the race with suspension damage.
As the series heads into the homestretch, with just two races to go before the playoffs begin, expect tensions to run at an all-time high. Drivers including Grant Enfinger, Noah Gragson, and Ryan Truex are in desperate need of a win. Like Austin Cindric, these drivers will do anything for a victory.