Austin Cindric takes Pocono Xfinity win

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Long Pond, Pa. – Austin Cindric earned his Xfinity Series-best fourth win of the season Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

The reigning series champion made his final stop at Lap 58 during a green flag pit cycle. He eventually cycled into the lead at Lap 75 with an edge of over three seconds on Ty Gibbs.

Ty Gibbs, the 18-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs, mounted a charge in the final laps as Cindric had to deal with lapped traffic. But Cindric was able to hang on for the win by three-tenths of a second.

MORE: Pocono Xfinity race results, driver points

“I didn’t know what happened to the 66 [David Starr] there – I went from a three-second lead to a half-a-second lead,” Cindric told NBC Sports after the race. “These things are never easy. I had to avoid two wrecks today.

“…This track was on our ‘kill list’ since last year. There’s a few more of those. We’ll keep our heads down. We’ve got to keep getting better. We’ve got strong competition and a lot of racing left.”

Gibbs couldn’t quite catch Cindric, but continued what’s been an impressive entry into Xfinity competition. His runner-up Sunday was his fourth top-two finish in eight starts this season.

“I just learned a lot about aero,” Gibbs told NBC Sports when asked what he learned on the ‘Tricky Triangle. “I feel like these cars are just so different with aero, less downforce compared to all the other stuff I’ve drove. Just kind of learning and learning – keep going.”

JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson finished third and fourth, respectively. A.J. Allmendinger completed the top five finishers.

The second stage was punctuated by two crashes, one of which briefly red-flagged the race.

Off the restart at Lap 25, Justin Haley and Sam Mayer made contact in Turn 1 that sent Haley spinning across the track and into the inside wall.

Haley’s car then went back toward the field and was hit again by an oncoming Ryan Vargas. Haley climbed out of his car when it came to rest, but immediately laid down to try and catch his breath. The red flag was brought out.

Minutes later, he got up and walked with safety crew members to the ambulance. Both Haley and Vargas were later checked and released from the infield care center.

Haley called the incident one of the hardest hits he’d taken in his career.

“I probably could’ve been cut a little bigger break for it being Lap 20, but that happens,” Haley told NBC Sports.

Later, on Lap 35, pole sitter and Stage 1 winner Harrison Burton got loose under Justin Allgaier in Turn 1 and spun into the outside wall. Burton was able to return to pit road, but his car was too damaged to continue the race.

Sunday’s action at Pocono continues with the Cup Series’ second race of the weekend (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Haley was going to compete in that race as well in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet. However, out of an abundance of caution, Allgaier will drive the No. 77 entry in his place.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Harrison Burton

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ty Gibbs

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Daniel Hemric recovered from two pit road speeding penalties – the second coming when he pitted from the lead at Lap 71 – to finish sixth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Riley Herbst‘s ebbing playoff hopes took a hit when he spun in Turn 2 and crashed out at Lap 46.

NEXT: Saturday, July 3 at Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wis.), 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC