Austin Cindric won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International, beating AJ Allmendinger in thrilling duel that saw the lead change multiple times on the next-to-last lap before Cindric pulled away.
Cindric passed Allmendinger coming to the white flag moments after Allmendinger forced him off track in Turn 6.
“This is awesome,” Cindric told NBC. “That was fun, man. AJ was pumped, after the race he gave me the hang loose (sign). He’s such a cool guy. It was cool to be able to race him for my first win. Feels good.”
Cindric had pit from the lead with 10 laps to go. He was in position to challenge Allmendinger with fresher tires after he passed three cars on the final restart when the field slowed to avoid a sideways Christopher Bell in the esses.
“That was nuts,” Cindric said. “I didn’t know how that was going to work out, but sometimes the path clears and you’ve got to take advantage of it and we executed all day today.”
The win comes in Cindric’s 54th career Xfinity start. It is Team Penske’s first Xfinity win since last September’s race at Darlington (28 races). Cindric, 20, is the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric.
I can go into a full description of why it was low from contact early in the race on a restart. The issues we struggled with after cause track bar mount was bent and oil tank getting hung on the coil of the spring the rest of the race. But just doesnt f***ing matter. 💔💔💔💔 https://t.co/pUx2OI6yJM
Still when you put ur heart into a race, the team works hundreds of hours to prepare and something like this happens doesnt make it any easier. Right or wrong still breaks my heart. I had nothing left when I got out of the car and it doesnt even show as a result. Just hard. Sorry https://t.co/KM2P3LX2BJ
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tyler Reddick bounced back from going off track multiple times in the race to finish fifth for his best result on a road course … Chase Briscoe finished sixth and Noah Gragson finished ninth in their first Watkins Glen starts.
NOTABLE: Cindric’s win is the first by a Team Penske driver competing for the Xfinity championship since Sam Hornish Jr. won at Las Vegas in March 2013
QUOTE OF THE RACE: “We’ve had a rocky relationship over our racing career,” Justin Allgaier said of his incidents Saturday with Ross Chastain. “Unfortunately I’ve been on the receiving end a number of times of him running into me. He flat wrecked me in the bus stop back there. At some point you just get to a point where you’re tired of getting run into. I ran back into him. I had no intention of putting him in the wall. I wanted to spin him out for sure. I wanted him to kind of have the same feeling that I had a few laps before whenever he spun me out.”
WHAT’S NEXT: B&L Transport 170 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course at 3 p.m. ET Aug. 10 on NBCSN
Last week’s Cup qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway raised the question of is qualifying more about entertainment or sport?
It was fascinating to watch cars parked on pit road and drivers waiting for someone to go because nobody wanted to be the lead car. They all wanted to be in the draft.
While that took place, spotters counted down the time remaining in the session.
It became a game of who would blink first and take off.
When it was time to go, there was chaos. Cars darted around each other. In the final round, Joey Logano went four-wide on pit road. Ricky Stenhouse passed Logano on the inside and left pit road ahead of him.
“Is chaos a bad thing?” Logano asked NBC Sports’ Jerry Bonkowski this week. “I think that’s the question we have to ask ourselves. Is it chaos? Yes. Is it entertaining? Oh yeah, it’s entertaining, there’s a lot going on. So I don’t know if it’s wrong and we should be changing much.
“I think there’s a couple safety aspects we can add to pit road while we’re jockeying around for position and stuff like that. But as far as the entertainment value, will you get the lap in before the clock runs out, will you get a big enough draft, will they all go out for a second time and you get a big pack again, are they going to knock somebody out of the round? That’s good.
“I don’t know why we would change much of that, I think it’s OK. Yeah, it’s a little chaotic, it’s crazy and none of us has it figured out or scienced out the way we want to have it yet, but that’s competition, that’s just what it is.”
Logano is right. While there was a randomness to who won the pole at Las Vegas, qualifying was as entertaining as any session in recent years.
What happened last week was reminiscent of qualifying at Talladega in October 2014. NASCAR divided teams into two groups for the opening round and each had five minutes. The top 24 overall times advanced.
Most cars stayed on pit road until they hit their cutoff mark to complete two laps. Not everyone made it. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier were among the cars that didn’t make it to the start/finish line before the session ended. Their fastest laps didn’t count. They both failed to qualify. It’s the only race Stenhouse has failed to make since his 2013 rookie Cup season.
These days, 36 chartered cars are guaranteed a starting spot. That prevents a situation Stenhouse experienced five years ago with a well-funded team.
But that doesn’t ease all the angst. Some competitors were frustrated at Las Vegas because the draft negates who has the fastest car. It’s all about being in the right place to draft and turn the quickest lap. Being in that position can be as much luck as skill.
What happens in qualifying can impact the race. Teams pick pit stalls based on their starting spot. A poor qualifying effort can lead to issues in the race.
Logano is aware of that. He qualified 27th at Atlanta and his team had limited options on where to pick their pit stall. Crew chief Todd Gordon chose a stall behind Alex Bowman’s pit and in front of Martin Truex Jr.’s pit.
Rarely do strong teams pit next to each other because they don’t want to have to go around a car to enter their stall or be blocked in by the car in front. Logano faced that situation at Atlanta. He lost more than 10 spots on each of his first two pit stops because he couldn’t get around Bowman’s car to exit his stall.
That leads back to the question of should qualifying be about entertainment or sport?
The decision today will be easy. The fastest car will be rewarded because teams are not expected to draft.
This issue that will come up again in the coming weeks, though, when the series heads to Auto Club Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway.
“Texas, I don’t know,” Logano said. “I think there’s going to be parts of the track that you want to draft and parts of the track when you’re going to want clean air. When you get to Turns 1 and 2, you’re going to want some air on the car to be able to get through the corner with as much wide open time as possible. That one’s a real question for me.
“I think Kansas is a no-brainer, you’re definitely going to be drafting. As for Fontana, it’ll be interesting. I think there’s going to be some drafting going on there, but I think it’ll be split up a little bit, kind of like the way Atlanta was, kinda 50-50.”
There’s no splitting this issue. It’s about entertainment. Let chaos reign in qualifying.
For all the wins Kyle Busch has amassed in his NASCAR career, there is a recurring theme.
The runner-up to Busch in more than a third of the 197 races he’s won across Cup, Xfinity and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series has been one of five drivers.
The driver who has finished runner-up to Busch the most in those races is Kevin Harvick. He’s done so 18 times — five times in Cup, 10 times in Xfinity and three times in Trucks. The total equates to 9.1 percent of the time Busch has won a NASCAR race, Harvick has been second.
Carl Edwards is next on the list with 15 runner-up finishes to Busch. He’s followed by Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano with 13-runner-up finishes. Next is Kyle Larson, who has placed second to Busch eight times.
Combined, Harvick, Edwards, Keselowski, Logano and Larson have finished second to Busch in 67 of his 197 wins (34 percent).
They are among the 60 drivers who have placed second to Busch in a race he won. The list includes three NASCAR Hall of Fame members (Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Ron Hornaday Jr.), two Indianapolis 500 winners (Sam Hornish Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya) and drivers who have combined to win 48 NASCAR titles in either Cup, Xfinity or Trucks.
The list could grow this weekend. Busch is entered in both the Cup and Xfinity races at Phoenix.
Here is who has finished second to Busch in Cup, Xfinity and Trucks races and how often:
Tanner Thorson, who competed in 11 Gander Outdoors Truck Series races last season, is recovering after he was involved in a highway crash early Monday morning in Modesto, California.
The 2016 U.S. Auto Club national champion had surgery Monday night for a broken left arm, according to the USAC Racing. Thorson had surgery Wednesday on his broken right foot. He also suffered a cracked sternum, broken ribs and a punctured lung, according to USAC Racing. The organization said that Thorson’s family hopes the 22-year-old can return home soon.
According to a preliminary investigation by the California Highway Patrol, Thorson was driving a 2019 Ford pickup that was towing his sprint car when he approached slower moving traffic shortly before 4 a.m. PT. Thorson’s truck struck the rear of a vehicle. KCRA, an NBC affiliate in Sacramento, reported that vehicle was a milk truck.
The impact sent the milk truck into the next lane where it was hit by another vehicle and then came back across the road and was struck another car. The driver was uninjured. A passenger in the truck was transported from the scene with minor injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol. Thorson’s vehicle came to rest on the shoulder and caught fire.
4. First time in new garages at Phoenix
ISM Raceway at Phoenix debuted its new garages and layout when NASCAR raced there in November.
Kevin Harvick has finished in the top five in half of the 32 Cup races he’s run at Phoenix. He has nine wins there. Jimmie Johnson has 15 top-five finishes in 31 Cup races there. He has four wins there.
Despite the dominance of the two, they have combined for one win (by Harvick) in the last five races at Phoenix. The other winners in the last five races at Phoenix are Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The landscape for Austin Cindric in 2019 is much different than what he faced last season as a rookie in the Xfinity Series.
Quite simply, it’ll be a less chaotic atmosphere for the 20-year-old who will drive Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford full-time in Xfinity.
“Continuity is important,” Cindric told NBC Sports Monday during a media event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Having the one team the entire year is a crucial point for me, having to have that continuity, not only on the track but off the track on the sponsorship side. I feel very lucky to have that kind of opportunity.”
2018 saw Cindric split time between Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing, driving the No. 22 and No. 12 for Penske and sharing Roush’s No. 60 with two other drivers.
“You’d show up at the race track just knowing all your stuff is stored, (that) you’d fit in the car,” Cindric said. “You have somewhat of a practice plan. A lot of time it was busy work throughout the week to make sure you’re prepared enough to get in and go.
“Having 12 different primary sponsors throughout the year, racing with three different teams, five different crew chiefs. It’s still a great position to be in during a full season, but obviously best case scenario is what I got on the slate this year.”
Cindric finished 10th in the standings in a season where he earned seven top fives and 13 top 10s – all with Penske – and experienced seven DNFs.
Now he’s preparing for a full slate in the No. 22 with crew chief Brian Wilson. Wilson was on the No. 22 last year and also worked with Cindric for one ARCA Racing Series race in 2017.
Together, they will be Penske’s first full-time Xfinity effort since Sam Hornish Jr. and Greg Erwin in 2013.
“Brian and I have a really good relationship,” Cindric said. “I think we both understand each other really well. So to be able to apply that in the full-scale is going to be really important. I feel very comfortable working together. Both of us have confidence in what we’re both capable of. Now it’s time to go apply it.”
Where does Cindric see himself needing to focus on more this year?
“Part of it is learning the cars, but also what to focus on in practice to make our lives a lot easier in the race, give ourselves an adjustable package,” Cindric said. “Racing wise it’s definitely a step up. It’s a step closer to the Cup level … the driver caliber is definitely a step higher. To learn from guys like that and apply it to my own driving is pretty important.”
In addition to the limited presence of Cup drivers, Cindric’s sophomore effort in Xfinity will come against a formidable field of series regulars.
“You look at guys like Justin Allgaier, who has been around this for a long time and obviously he had probably a career year last year, and guys like Christopher Bell and Cole Custer coming in for a (second and third year respectively),” Cindric said. “Then you have obviously (defending champion) Tyler Reddick.
“It’s an amazing pointy end of the field. The pointy end is pretty wide. I’d like to hope we’re a part of that.”
START: Yoel Romero, the top-ranked Middleweight UFC Fighter, will give the command to start engines at 3:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:45 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 8:30 a.m. Qualifying is at 12:35 p.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:40 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3 p.m.
NATIONALANTHEM: Yoli Mayor will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.
TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 3:30 p.m. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 3 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high of 80 degrees and a four percent chance of rain at the start of the race.
The Xfinity Series has its second road course race in a row, competing today at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Here is all the info for today’s race:
(All times are Eastern)
START: Jeff Flasco, CEO of Amethyst Beverage, will give the command to start engines at 2:54 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:05 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 75 laps (169.35 miles) around the 2.258-mile road course.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 20. Stage 2 ends on Lap 40.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 8 a.m. Qualifying is at 11:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 2 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:15 p.m.
NATIONALANTHEM: Wendy Reiser will perform the anthem at 2:47 p.m.
TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly sunny conditions with a high of 80 degrees and a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.