Austin Cindric triumphs on Daytona Xfinity road course
Austin Cindric avoided the chaos and crashes to win Saturday’s inaugural Xfinity Series race at the Daytona International Speedway road course. It marked his fifth victory in the last six races.
Cindric passed Brandon Jones for the lead in Turn 6 with five laps to go and pulled away to win.
“I didn’t feel I drove my best today but we executed,” Cindric told NBCSN after the race.
Cindric’s five victories tie him with Chase Briscoe for the most in the series this season.
Jones finished second and was followed by Noah Gragson, AJ Allmendinger and Andy Lally. Jeremy Clements, who is battling for the final playoff spot, finished sixth.
On a restart with seven laps to go, several cars drifted wide in Turn 1, including Chase Briscoe. He ran into the back of Allmendinger’s car when he was squeezed by another car and then knocked off course. That ended Briscoe’s race. He finished 29th. Jones went from seventh to first on that restart, putting him in position for the runner-up result.
Chaos reigned early.
Justin Haley had his race end on Lap 12 when he got into the grass on the backstretch chicane and the grass tore up his splitter and damaged the front of his car, ending his race. He finished last in the 38-car field. At the same time, Kaulig Racing teammates Ross Chastain and Allmendinger had problems. Chastain had a mechanical issue. Allmendinger was penalized a lap for pitting out of the box when his fuel can was still attached as his car moved out of its stall.
Gragson crashed while leading on Lap 18. He got his right side tires into the grass, lost control in the infield portion of the course and slid through Turn 5 into the tire barrier.
The start of the race was delayed more than 90 minutes by lightning. NASCAR declared race conditions as damp for the start of the 52-lap race, meaning teams had the option to put on rain tires before the race.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Austin Cindric
STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Briscoe
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Noah Gragson’s third-place finish continued his road course success. He has finished in the top 10 in all seven Xfinity road course starts. ... Jeremy Clements’ sixth-place finish is his fourth top 10 of the season, tying his total from last season for the most in a year.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Justin Allgaier left frustrated with his ninth-place finish. He was upset with AJ Allmendinger for spinning him late while Allgaier ran third. ... Daniel Hemric’s rough season continued. He finished 37th after a crash. It is Hemric’s fifth finish of 30th or worse in 13 starts this season. ... Earl Bamber, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, turned Riley Herbst early and wrecked late after getting off course on the backstretch chicane. He finished 33rd for Richard Childress Racing after running toward the front.
NOTABLE: Austin Cindric joins Sam Ard as the only drivers to win five times in six series races.
NEXT: The series races Saturday, Aug. 22 at Dover (12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The Xfinity Series