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Austin Cindric wins Watkins Glen Xfinity race for first career victory

Austin Cindric outduels A.J. Allmendinger in a late shootout to win the Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen for his first career victory.

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.

Allmendinger, an analyst for NBC Sports, was making his second start of the year for Kaulig Racing. He led 24 of 82 laps but his car failed post-race inspection when the No. 10 Chevrolet did not meet minimum heights. Allmendinger’s had second and third-place finishes in both of his starts vacated due to inspection failures.

With Allmendinger’s finish and Stage 2 win disqualified, the top five was revised to Cindric, Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

More: Race results and point standings

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.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Ross Chastain was eliminated in a crash on the last lap of Stage 1 when he was forced off track and into a tire barrier by Justin Allgaier in retaliation. Chastain had turned Allgaier into a tire barrier on Lap 14. … Pole-sitter Kyle Busch was eliminated after suspension failure moments after he took the lead from Ryan Blaney with seven laps left in Stage 2.

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

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