Cindric Second in Regular Season After Dramatic Finish at Bristol

NASCAR NASCAR Xfinity Series
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By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

Crashing across the line for the checkered flag saw Austin Cindric fall just short of the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship.

Entering the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Cindric was locked in a battle for the regular season title with AJ Allmendinger. The duo matched each other in Stage points, keeping the gap at just five points.

In the final Stage of the 300-lap race, a late caution for spins by Sam Mayer and Josh Williams set up an overtime restart. Allmendinger lined up third, behind Justin Allgaier. While Cindric and Allgaier battled for the lead, the Kaulig Racing driver took advantage to leapfrog the duo. Allmendinger also made contact with the battling duo.

Then, Allmendinger overdrove the final corner, sliding up the banking. Cindric dove through attempting to take the lead. The short track racing move resulted in both the Team Penske driver and Allmendinger spinning across the line. Cindric took the checkered flag 0.082 seconds behind his regular season championship rival. Both Allmendinger’s Chevrolet and Cindric’s No. 22 Menards / Richmond Ford Mustang ricocheted off the inside wall and back into traffic, collecting several after the checkered.

“What happened on the last lap?” asked Cindric. “The short summary is short track racing. The long summary is a lot of contact. Five-star bodies definitely made their money’s worth today. I’m surprised we were able to not cut a tire down in that situation, but just a lot of hard racing, a lot of guys wanted to win the race. I feel like, and I say with confidence, we were probably the ones that deserved to, but that’s not how these play out with these green-white-checkers and sometimes you’re vulnerable.

“I would say that was the exact same thing AJ did on the bottom of turn four the lap prior, just gassing up out of desperation. It was a bit desperate, but monkey see, monkey do in that situation. I don’t want to tear up race cars and can’t say I’m the one that instigated any of that. I had a shot to win. Love to see the margin there of two cars crashing across the finish line, but really close two years in a row.”

The regular season rivals started side-by-side in ninth and 10th due to NASCAR’s metric qualifying formula. In Stage 1 Cindric finished seventh, one spot behind Allmendinger. Then in Stage 2, the duo swapped places with the Ford Performance driver in fifth.

The second-place finish is Cindric’s 16th top-five finish this season. It is also the 56th top-five finish in his Xfinity Series career.

After the points reset for the Xfinity Series playoffs, Cindric and Allmendinger are tied for the lead. The Team Penske driver has the tiebreaker with five victories this season to Allmendinger’s four. Both drivers are 36-points about the playoff cutoff, held by Harrison Burton.

Featured Photo Credit: Photo by David Graham / Harold Hinson Photography

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Seth Eggert
Growing up in Northern New Jersey, Seth grew up in a family of NASCAR fans. He was always determined to have a career in the industry. While in college, Seth bought a subscription to iRacing. As an avid iRacer, Seth took an opportunity to start a journalism career at iRacingNews covering the iRacing.com IndyCar Open Oval Series. He spent four years at iRacingNews before moving towards coverage of motorsports in the real world. In 2016, Seth joined Tribute Racing, which then became Motorsports Tribune as a Staff Writer. That same year, he graduated from Mitchell Community College with an Associate’s Degree in History. He joined the Kickin’ the Tires team as a Staff Writer and eSports Editor in late 2019. When he is not writing or covering NASCAR or iRacing, Seth works at Mitchell Community College as an Administrator in their Mooresville campus tutoring center. He is also qualified to tutor up to 38 different classes ranging from Communications to History to Math to various electives.

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