Austin Cindric 2

Austin Cindric powers through the Carousel on Friday afternoon during a practice on for Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series B&L Transport 170.

LEXINGTON -- As Austin Cindric powered through the Carousel for the final time Friday afternoon, three young boys sitting in the bleachers clapped and cheered.

It wasn't that long ago that it was Cindric cheering on favorites at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, roaming the 330-acre grounds as a boy growing up in Columbus.

The 20-year-old NASCAR Xfinity driver, a Columbus native, hopes to give those youngsters something to roar about on Saturday by winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series B&L Transport 170.

Austin Cindric

Austin Cindric

Cindric, who posted his first Xfinity win last weekend at Watkins Glen, certainly set the stage for another win during practice on Friday.

Driving his colorful Team Penske No. 22 PPG Ford, Cindric posted the fourth fastest lap in the first practice session (94.503). He came back in the second session and had the second-fastest lap (94.953).

After winning the pole at Mid-Ohio last year and losing narrowly at the finish, Cindric is ready to win at the course once owned by his grandfather, Jim Trueman.

"I have so many great memories here," Cindric said between sessions. "Nothing would be more special than winning here tomorrow."

The personable Cindric, who raced at Mid-Ohio in the USF2000 series when he was just 14, gets an even brighter smile when he remembers the Mid-Ohio of his boyhood.

In many ways, he said, the venerable 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course never changes.

"It's like a park," he said. "You can walk around and go to different corners. You still have vendors, still have concession stands. You can kind of explore the grounds here, watch race cars, watch great racing.

"You are able to sit on the hill in Turn 4 if you like and watch the Esses or go explore on the other corners and really appreciate what this track has to offer," Cindric said.

Winning at Watkins Glen was a breakthrough for Cindric, who locked up a series playoff spot win the win.

"It's been a great boost for our team and our guys. It's great to get that monkey off my back. I am just excited for the challenge. We just want to keep trying to find points, keep searching for wins and have a little fun (along the way)," Cindric said.

FAST ENGLISHMAN: Jack Hawksworth, 28, had the fastest lap of the day. The native of England turned a 95.204 in the second practice, more than a second faster than his first session bast lap, when was 13th fastest.

Hawksworth, a former IndyCar and IMSA driver, is making his 2019 Xfinity debut this weekend. He replaced Jeffery Earnhardt in the middle of the week in a Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota.

Justin Haley

Justin Haley

Rookie Justin Haley, 20, had the fastest lap in the first practice session, recording an average lap of 95.201 in his Kaulig Racing No. 11 Chevrolet.

The 20-year-old Indiana native shocked the NASCAR world last month when he won a weather-shortened Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the Daytona International Speedway.

He recognizes Mid-Ohio is a far different challenge than Daytona.

"It's tough. When (exiting pit road), the yellow line is on a downhill and then you have an immediate left turn. It's definitely," Haley said. "The track is not the grippiest, pit road is not the grippiest. We are going to probably focus on that more in the second practice, run the pit road a few times and try to get the speed maxed," Haley said.

Ryan Sieg, 32, was 18th quickest (93.183) in the first session in his RSS Racing No. 39 Chevrolet. He wasn't much quicker in the second session, he was 15th fastest (93.618).

The Georgia native clearly hasn't gotten comfortable on the Mid-Ohio course.

Ryan Sieg

Ryan Sieg

"I have doing this for a couple of years now, but it's still tough to get everything you need," Sieg said. "I am trying to go fast, but I don't really know what I am doing. It's tough here ... real technical. You gotta hit that line. We are working on it. It's a tall order, but we are prepared and ready."

SATURDAY SCHEDULE: NASCAR Xfinity qualifying begins Saturday at 11:40 a.m. and the green flag drops at 3 p.m.

For ticket information, visit the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course website.

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