Austin Cindric earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Watkins Glen in a last-lap thriller. It was an intense battle after Cindric started on the outside pole for the Zippo 200 and made a gusty pit call with 10 laps to go. He also had to dodge a near wreck off a restart, going from seventh to second, then trading the lead back and forth with AJ Allmendinger, to get to victory lane.
“That was nuts, I didn’t know how that was going to work out,” Cindric said to MRN Radio describing his near miss. “Sometimes you have to take advantage of it and we executed all day.”
All-time Xfinity Series winner Kyle Busch was back in the field for his first race since Texas back in March. Busch sat on the pole, continuing his impressive streak of earning one pole every year in the Xfinity Series. It was his first pole since Bristol last August.
Stages were broken up into 20/20/42 laps to make up the 82 laps distance.
Several drivers had issues before the race started, however. Cole Custer went to a backup car after crashing in Friday’s practice session. Vinnie Miller, who spun in qualifying early Saturday morning, couldn’t get the car started and was pushed behind the wall. The 74 of Dan Corcoran was also pushed behind the wall, before returning to the race later.
Stage 1: Lap 1 – Lap 20
While Kyle Busch checked out, Tyler Reddick missed the inner loop on the first lap. Many other drivers like Chase Briscoe, Michael Annett, Alex Labbe, Brandon Jones and Ray Black Jr. also had issues with grass on their grille, forcing them to pit to clean it off. Josh Bilicki, in the No. 93, went spinning around in Turn 7, but the race remained green.
Miller’s issues continued as he went out for the rest of the race on Lap 8 with an ignition problem. J.J. Yeley also went to the garage on the same lap.
The first caution flew on Lap 10 for the No. 35 of Joey Gase who stalled in Turn 1. During the caution, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney, Custer, Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Briscoe, Reddick and Annett, along with others, pit.
Allgaier’s name would come up again on Lap 14, as Ross Chastain made contact with him in Turn 3, which sent Allgaier toward the tire barrier to bring out the caution again. Allgaier would later retaliate by sending Chastain into the tire barrier, which would end Chastain’s day.
No other incidents took place for rest of the stage, other than Cindric pitting with three to go.
Busch went on to take the stage win after leading every lap. Christopher Bell, Jeremy Clements, Justin Haley, Blaney, Ryan Preece, Noah Gragson, Ryan Sieg, Reddick, Gaulding rounded out the top-10 stage finishers.
Tommy Joe Martins and Clements were penalized for a crew member over the wall too soon under the stage break.
Stage 2: Lap 23 – Lap 40
After staying out, Bell and Blaney would regain the front spots with Stage 1 winner Busch restarting 15th.
Not much happened in the second stage, aside from Cindric and Custer going side-by-side with each other in the inner loop with Custer getting the worst of it by collecting grass on his grille, and a possible tire rub as well. Custer would end up pitting to clean the grass off his grille.
Another major issue broke out for Busch when he went to make a pass on race leader Blaney in the inner loop. Busch could not stop and was going toward the wall in the carousel after what turned out to be a broken control arm. This sent Busch behind the wall for the rest of the race and he ended up with a disappointing 32nd place finish. This would bring out the caution on Lap 33.
Allmendinger took the lead off the restart on Lap 37 and held on for the rest of the stage to take the stage win. Blaney, Preece, Cindric, Briscoe, Nemechek, Jones, Allgaier, Haley and Bell claimed the remaining top-10 spots for Stage 2. Briscoe and Nemechek would later pit under the stage break.
Stage 3: Lap 43 – Lap 82
Like Stage 1, Reddick once again went through the inner loop on Lap 47 and fell back to 20th. Sieg also went around in the inner loop as well after making contact with Nemechek.
Green flag pit stops started to occur on Lap 48 with Blaney pitting from second. His teammate, Cindric would pit one lap later. This continued until 20 to go with race leader Allgaier being the final driver to pit. In what would be the battle for the lead, Allmendinger pitted from first on Lap 51 but had a slow stop with him coming out behind Cindric.
After Allgaier pitted, Cindric would cycle out as the race leader. A thrilling battle took place with Allmendinger and Blaney a few laps before with Allmendinger getting the better of it.
While it looked liked Cindric would run away with the race win, a caution came out on Lap 68 for Garrett Smithley’s tire carcass that was left in the inner loop and eventually picked up by the 99 of Cody Ware. Right before the yellow, Tommy Joe Martins went spinning around in Turn 1.
In what seemed like a questionable strategy, Cindric pitted from the lead under the yellow for fresh tires. He would restart sixth with Allmendinger as the race leader.
A wreck with Haley and Bilicki occurred on the restart in Turn 1 with contact from Briscoe, which brought out the caution again.
A late-race restart took place with seven laps to go. Bell almost went spinning around after contact with Allgaier that caused a logjam in the esses. This also saw Cindric going from sixth to second after the incident.
This later produced a thrilling battle for the win between Allmendinger and Cindric. Both would trade the lead with each other with less than three laps remaining, with Cindric at one point, almost going off course after a shot from Allmendinger. Both would be side-by-side at the finish on the white flag lap.
Eventually, Cindric had the better car and pulled away from Allmendinger to earn his first Xfinity Series career win at Watkins Glen International.
“This is awesome,” Cindric said. “I’ve got so many people to think. You fans are awesome, thank you for coming to Watkins Glen every single year. This is why you come. I’m so pumped.”
Cindric led twice for eight laps to pick up his first career win. There were seven cautions for 16 laps with nine lead changes among six leaders.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series continues the road course season by heading to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, August 10.
UPDATE: Allmendinger’s car failed post-race inspection after a rear-height violation and he will be credited with a 37th place finish. The Kaulig Racing team has until noon Monday to appeal the decision.
Xfinity Series Race Number 20
Race Results for the 25th Annual Zippo 200 at The Glen – Saturday, August 3, 2019
Watkins Glen International – Watkins Glen, NY – 2.45 – Mile Road
Total Race Length – 82 Laps – 200.9 Miles
|1||2||22||Austin Cindric||MoneyLion Ford||82||0||3||0||48||Running|
|2||4||20||Christopher Bell||Rheem Toyota||82||2||9||0||46||Running|
|3||9||7||Justin Allgaier||BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet||82||0||7||0||38||Running|
|4||3||12||Ryan Blaney(i)||Pirtek Ford||82||5||1||0||0||Running|
|5||5||2||Tyler Reddick||Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet||82||0||0||0||32||Running|
|6||6||98||Chase Briscoe #||Ford Performance Ford||82||0||4||0||38||Running|
|7||13||0||Cole Custer||GoBowling Ford||82||0||0||0||30||Running|
|8||14||1||Michael Annett||Pilot/Flying J Chevrolet||82||0||0||0||29||Running|
|9||18||9||Noah Gragson #||West Herr Auto Group Chevrolet||82||7||0||0||32||Running|
|10||8||8||Ryan Preece(i)||Louisiana Hot Sauce Chevrolet||82||6||2||0||0||Running|
|11||11||51||Jeremy Clements||RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet||82||3||0||0||34||Running|
|12||20||23||John Hunter Nemechek #||Digital Ally Chevrolet||82||10||5||0||32||Running|
|14||12||11||Justin Haley #||LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet||82||4||8||0||33||Running|
|15||15||8||Gray Gaulding||GPSPURE.com Chevrolet||82||9||0||0||24||Running|
|16||21||90||Alex Labbe||DGM Racing Chevrolet||82||0||0||0||21||Running|
|17||10||19||Brandon Jones||First Foundation Toyota||82||0||6||0||25||Running|
|18||27||86||Brandon Brown #||Vero Tru Social Chevrolet||82||0||0||0||19||Running|
|19||30||36||Josh Williams||Star Brite/Star Tron/Sleep Well Chevrolet||82||0||0||0||18||Running|
|20||28||1||Stephen Leicht||teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet||82||0||0||0||17||Running|
|22||24||7||Ray Black II||ISOKERN Fireplaces & Chimneys/Scuba Life Chevrolet||82||0||0||0||15||Running|
|23||31||42||Stanton Barrett(i)||Horseheads Brewing Toyota||82||0||0||0||0||Running|
|24||29||0||Garrett Smithley||teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet||80||0||0||0||13||Running|
|25||34||74||Dan Corcoran(i)||Woobie Shoes/Threatcon 5 Clothing Chevrolet||75||0||0||0||0||Running|
|26||16||93||Josh Bilicki||Lemons of Love Chevrolet||72||0||0||0||11||Accident|
|27||33||15||BJ McLeod||teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet||67||0||0||0||10||DVP|
|28||22||66||Tommy Joe Martins||Gusset.com Toyota||65||0||0||0||9||Accident|
|29||32||52||David Starr||Chevrolet||57||0||0||0||8||Fuel Pump|
|30||17||39||Ryan Sieg||Midstate Chevrolet||47||8||10||0||11||Accident|
|31||1||18||Kyle Busch(i)||iK9 Toyota||35||1||0||0||0||Suspension|
|32||35||13||Chad Finchum||MBM Motorsports Toyota||30||0||0||0||5||Brakes|
|33||19||4||Ross Chastain(i)||Buckle Up New York Chevrolet||19||0||0||0||0||Accident|
|34||36||35||Joey Gase||MBM Motorsports Toyota||9||0||0||0||3||Transmission|
|35||25||38||JJ Yeley(i)||RSS Racing Chevrolet||6||0||0||0||0||Overheating|
|36||37||78||Vinnie Miller||Pit Viper Sunglasses Chevrolet||0||0||0||0||1||Ignition|
|37||7||10||AJ Allmendinger||Death Wish Coffee Chevrolet||82||0||0||0||1||Running|