Austin Cindric takes Phoenix Xfinity win after wild restart
It was a familiar finish for Austin Cindric as he held on to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway following a wild late-race restart.
Cindric dominated much of Saturday’s race, leading 119 of 200 laps, but a wreck by Alex Labbe set up a two-lap dash to the checkered flag – a very similar position to how he won his inaugural series championship at this race last November.
This time, Cindric was successful again, fending off Justin Allgaier Daniel Hemric on the restart and as several lead-lap cars hit the wall, edged Ty Gibbs to secure the victory.
The win is Cindric’s second of the 2021 season and 10th of his career.
Brandon Brown finished a career-high third, Riley Herbst was fourth and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-five.
“I think it was role-reversal from the last time here. (Allgaier) got a really great restart and stuck it on top of three there and we were fighting for track position," Cindric said. "We came away with a win. He just got a really great launch. I think he anticipated the restart really well and got to my outside. He faked low and went high and had the momentum that was hard to block. "I was trying to defend the bottom, middle and top. I got the air sucked off my door a little bit. it was just hard racing a little bit there. It sucks that he got into the wall there because I think we were going to have a good race to the end there. I don't think our lap one-to-two speed was our strength, so I definitely got a little fortunate there.
"They never come easy. This is a really important track this season and I am pumped for this team. Hopefully we put on a great show there. We were ruining each other there at the end. I am proud to get the Car Shop Ford Mustang into Victory Lane and hopefully we can carry it over to the fall here.”
Completing the top-10 were Jeb Burton, Bayley Currey was a career-best seventh, Allgaier ended up eighth, Brett Moffitt ninth and Jeremy Clements was 10th.
Hemric hit the wall on the next-to-last lap and ended up 23rd.
IndyCar Series driver Santino Ferrucci finished 15th on Saturday and now has a pair of top-15 finishes in his first three career Xfinity Series starts, all with no practice and no qualifying.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all the lead-lap cars pit with Allgaier the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 99, Allgaier was followed by Cindric, Hemric, Josh Berry and Jeb Burton.
With 95 laps to go in the race, Allgaier had built up almost a 1-second lead over Cindric as Berry moved up to third.
Tommy Joe Martins hit the wall off Turn 2 on Lap 125 to bring out a caution. The lead-lap cars elected to pit and Ryan Sieg was first off pit road taking fuel only.
Hemric and Jeb Burton both were penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart the race from the rear of the field.
The race returned to green on Lap 130 with Sieg out front followed by Cindric, Allgaier and Berry.
Cindric quickly powered back to the lead on the restart as Sieg tagged the wall.
On Lap 132, Harrison Burton spun off Turn 2 to bring out the seventh caution of the race. Berry pit under the caution but was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.
The race resumed on Lap 138 with Cindric out front followed by Allgaier, Jones and Gibbs.
Moffitt spun off Turn 4 after contact from Clements to bring out another caution. When the race returned to green on Lap 145, Cindric remained out front followed by Brandon Jones, Allgaier and Gibbs.
Jones went to the inside of Cindric and got around him in Turn 3 to take the lead for the first time in the race.
Cindric reclaimed the lead on Lap 147 just as Berry hit the Turn 3 wall after having a tire go down. With everyone out of new tires, the lead-lap cars remained on the track with Cindric back in command on Lap 155.
On Lap 167, Jones slammed into the wall on the backstretch entering Turn 3 after contact with Allmendinger to bring out the 10th caution of the race.
“Looks like I just got ran over by AJ. I’ll keep a notebook for all that stuff and keep it for my future,” Jones said after exiting the infield care center.
The race returned to green on Lap 172 with Cindric still the leader followed by Allgaier, Hemric, Gibbs and Justin Haley.
With 10 laps to go, Cindric had built up a 1-second lead over Allgaier as Hemric ran third, 1.9 seconds behind the leader.
On Lap 192, Labbe wrecked in Turn 3 which brought out the 11th caution of the race. Cindric remained the leader when the race returned to green with two laps to go in the race.
Hemric held off a late charge from Harrison Burton and hung on for the Stage 2 win.
Allgaier was third, Cindric fourth and Haley rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Hemric the first off pit road. Jones was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.
The race returned to green on Lap 57 with Hemric out front followed by Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson, Allgaier and Cindric.
Dexter Bean spun around in Turn 3 to bring out a caution. When the race returned to green on Lap 63, Hemric led the way followed by Harrison Burton, Gragson and Allgaier.
On Lap 68, a caution was displayed for Gragson who had developed a tire rub and his right-rear wheel hub erupted in fire.
The lead-lap cars remained on the track and Hemric led the way when the race returned to green on Lap 77. He was followed by Harrison Burton and Allgaier.
With 10 laps to go in the stage, Hemric maintained a small but steady lead over Harrison Burton. Allgaier was third and Cindric moved back up to fourth.
Cindric dominated the first stage, leading all 45 laps and easily held off Jones to take the stage victory.
Harrison Burton was third, Hemric fourth and Gragson rounded out the top-five.
Hemric started on the pole but Cindric powered to the lead off Turn 1 on the first lap.
On Lap 21, NASCAR displayed a competition caution to allow teams to check on tire wear. The lead-lap cars remained on the track and Cindric continued to lead the way when the race returned to green on Lap 27.
With 15 laps remaining in the first stage, Cindric held a small lead over Jones with Harrison Burton third, Hemric fourth and Gragson fifth.
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