Austin Cindric wins at Gateway after Ryan Blaney’s tank hits empty

Austin Cindric took advantage of a Team Penske teammate’s misfortune to break an 85-race winless streak and claim the Enjoy Illinois 300 Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in Madison, Ill.

As reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney came down the frontstretch toward the white flag with a healthy lead over Cindric, his No. 12 Ford slowed dramatically.

“I’m out of gas!” shrieked Blaney, who is winless in 2024 and eventually finished 24th.

Cindric roared by Blaney as they headed into Turn 1 for the final time and went on to notch his second career win in 94 starts. He beat Denny Hamlin by 3.844 seconds to become the ninth different winner this season.

Rounding out the top-five finishers were Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano.

After scoring his third pole of the season, Michael McDowell came home 25th in his Ford.

In the drivers’ third visit to the track across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, McDowell led much of the 45-lap first stage until Bell passed him in the closing circuits.

Coming off his win last Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600, Bell’s No. 20 Toyota again took the checkers in the segment for his third straight stage win including the Charlotte race and Gateway, beating the Fords of McDowell and Blaney.

On Lap 70, Bell passed defending race winner Kyle Busch, who had stayed out, and held the point in the 95-lap second stage, and Toyota teammate Martin Truex Jr. eased into second before pitting just before Lap 100.

After the green-flag pit stops jostled the field, six Fords paved the way, led by Penske’s Cindric and Blaney.

As seventh-place Busch and eighth-place Kyle Larson ran side-by-side and wrecked into the Turn 1 wall, Bell drove off to yet another stage win on Lap 140 with Cindric nearly a second behind him.

Busch, whose last win was at Gateway a year ago, went to the garage and recorded his first DNF of 2024.

Inside the last 100 laps, the Team Penske drivers and Bell headed the field as the two camps were on different pit strategies.

Bell relinquished the lead with 46 laps remaining, and Keselowski took the point with a nine-second lead over Chase Elliott and Larson after a pit cycle.