Cindric Wins Enjoy Illinois 300 at Gateway/ Larson drama over, holds P1 in GFT AI Rankings

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
4 min readJun 5, 2024

2 June 2024
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

MADISON, IL — It was drama, drama, drama at Gateway as the NASCAR Cup Series did battle at Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis. RECAP: Early on it was Michael McDowell starting on pole and holding position up front for the Ford camp. But toward the end of Stage 1 it was the №20 Toyota of Christopher Bell who powered to the front and took the stage and dominated all of Stage 2 grabbing the top finish and points. As the race entered the final laps, it was defending Cup champion Ryan Blaney in the Team Penske №12 at the front in what looked like a sure victory, but as the white flag was displayed for the final lap, Blaney sputtered and exclaimed “I’m out of gas!” to the team. 3 car lengths back was teammate Austin Cindric in the №2 Team Penske Ford Mustang who took the lead in Turn 1 and won the race.

Coming to the white flag 🏳️ Blaney was one lap away from his first win of 2024 … “I’m out of gas … ⛽️ What the _____?” And just like that Austin Cindric takes the lead and wins the #NASCAR #EnjoyIllinois300
Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Freightliner Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 02, 2024 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

The win was Cindric‘s first since he won the 2022 Daytona 500 as a rookie, a tough streak that lasted 85 races.

“This weekend was a great weekend for everybody involved,” Cindric said. “But, yeah, to have two cars in the fight, eventual 1–2. Heartbroken for those guys.

“This is huge for me. This is huge for this team. I’m so glad I was able to get a win with Brian (Wilson) as my crew chief in the Cup Series. You never know when it’s going to happen again. Just drove my butt off, hope for the best.”

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford, (L) congratulates Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Freightliner Ford, in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 02, 2024 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

How it played out …
On Lap 217, when Kyle Larson pitted, Blaney assumed the lead, but with the race‘s fastest car — the №20 Toyota of Christopher Bell — in hot pursuit. Bell soon caught Blaney and pulled alongside several times before engine issues caused Bell to slow dramatically.

“I‘m blowing up, I‘m blowing up,” Bell radioed to his crew. With Bell in trouble and trying to nurse his car to the finish, it was Blaney‘s turn to face the unexpected. One lap short on fuel, post race Blaney said “Never thought in my mind we were short. One of those things. Gosh, proud of the 12 boys. We were fast. Had my work cut out for me holding off Christopher. That was a fun battle. I don’t know what happened to him. Yeah, one lap short, which just stinks. Congrats to the 2 team. They did a good job all day. Props to them, Austin. Proud for Team Penske and Ford.”

Kyle Larson, who fought through issues all weekend with many of the Hendrick and other Chevrolets, fished 10th.

Stage points and a Top 10 Finish keep Larson on top of GFT Rankings

Go Full Throttle Top 25 NASCAR AI Driver Rankings following the Enjoy Illionois 300 on June 2, 2024 at Gateway World Wide Technology Raceway (Image Credit: GFT Digital)

Go Full Throttle NASCAR Box Scores after Gateway

Go Full Throttle NASCAR BOX SCORES following the Enjoy Illionois 300 on June 2, 2024 at Gateway World Wide Technology Raceway (Image Credit: GFT Digital)

After 15 Races …
Manufactures Box Score:
Chevrolet = 7
Toyota = 6
Ford = 2

Team Box Score:
Hendrick Motorsports = 6

Driver Box Score:
William Byron and Denny Hamlin ties with 3 wins each

GFT AI NASCAR FANTASY LIVE RACE PREDICTION MODELS

Another tough week for our prediction models as we make updates for remaining starts in the 2nd half of the season. The “asset allocation” algorithm continues to “learn.”

Up Next:

TOYOTA / SAVE MART 350
SONOMA RACEWAY
SUNDAY, JUN. 9–3:30 PM ET

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association