Race Weekend Central

Austin Cindric Makes 4-Wide Move Work at Atlanta

Conventional wisdom, especially at a track like Atlanta Motor Speedway whose reprofile in 2022 narrowed the width of the turns by 55 feet, says that trying to run three-wide is ill-advised. 

That’s risky enough. Four-wide? That on the surface could be considered ludicrous. 

But during a day and into the early-evening in which Austin Cindric led the second-most laps at Atlanta, the Team Penske driver didn’t just find himself in a position to take a gamble, but also made it work. 

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With around 50 laps to go in the Ambetter Health 400, Cindric was among the top runners. But with jockeying getting edgier in the race’s final stage, that real estate near the front became more and more valuable. 

Racing for the lead with Martin Truex Jr., Michael McDowell and Chase Briscoe, Cindric dove to the inside near the apron as the tightly-packed field made its way along the frontstretch. Cindric whisked by, leaving a four-wide pack behind him coming off of the second turn.  

“Four-wide in Atlanta, that doesn’t really work in the corners, that only works in the straights,” Cindric said. “I did have enough time to think about whether or not it was a good idea, and it was a good idea. I’m sure it looked cool and made for good pictures.”

To Cindric, it was a chance worth taking. 

“You’ve got to do it,” Cindric said. “I promise you, I’ll be the guy.” 

From Cindric’s viewpoint, another impressive part may have been what happened in his rear-view mirror. Briscoe, McDowell and Truex, who were joined by Kyle Busch‘s inside run to make it four wide again, kept their cars composed and avoided wrecking.  

“They were only four-wide with me for half a second, I had a big enough lead, so it didn’t last too long,” Cindric said. “I did look in the mirror expecting them to wreck, that was pretty impressive.”

One reason for that, perhaps? Drivers being more at ease in close quarters in Atlanta. 

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“I got more comfortable being able to be closer to guys in the corner,” Busch said. 

Cindric noted that the flow of the air off of cars makes it even harder to avoid wrecking while racing four-wide at a track like Atlanta. Ironically, Cindric came up short of a win Sunday night (Feb. 25), finishing fourth behind the three-wide finish of Busch, Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez

“What the viewer doesn’t understand is how difficult it is to follow (another car) at this race track, especially when you have all of that turbulent air coming off the hood,” Cindric said.”That’s what kind of got us in the end, it’s not easy to do.” 

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