Austin Cindric claimed his second NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in as many weeks — earning an impressive 3.78-second win over Christopher Bell and former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger Saturday afternoon at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
The 20-year old Cindric had just celebrated his career first win last week at the iconic Watkins Glen International road course and with a huge smile, effusively wondered what might be next for his No. 22 Team Penske Ford as the series heads to the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway next week. Should he win at Bristol, he would become the first driver in NASCAR Xfinity Series history to earn his first three wins in consecutive races.
“It feels so good,” a smiling Cindric said after climbing out of his Ford Mustang. “These guys are the best and thanks for bringing me a great car again this year. And hell of a job by Christopher Bell keeping me honest all day.
“It feels good, two in row and going for three at Bristol. I’ll probably go crazy if I win there. Should be a lot of fun. This is great momentum for our group.”
Cindric is the seventh different winner in seven Xfinity Series races at the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio course, and his day included impressive feats of both maintaining the lead and high pursuit to reclaim it between pit strategies. He won the pole position by a full three-tenths of a second and held “favorite” status before the green flag even dropped.
Much of the race was spent negotiating re-starts and high-speed turns with Bell on his bumper or at his door — as well as fending off another road racing star in Jack Hawksworth, who actually won in class in an International Motor Sports Association race at Mid-Ohio already this year and made his series debut in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota.
Hawksworth started from the outside pole and challenged the frontrunners for much of the race, eventually finishing 15th and leading five laps. He actually won the second stage, which finished under caution — one of six yellow flags for 17 laps on the afternoon.
“I enjoyed it, it was a lot of fun,” Hawksworth said after the race. “I was having a lot of fun out there. I had a great time and would like to come back.”
Cindric led 46 of the 75 laps and Bell, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, was the only other driver in double digits out front. Bell is second in the championship standings to Tyler Reddick, who finished fourth on Saturday. And after the race, the short track superstar conceded he is getting better on the road courses. Bell was second last week to Cindric as well.
“I don’t know about that, but I do know we’re going to Bristol next week and I can’t wait,” he said, smiling about the road course prowess he’s shown with the back-to-back runner-up finishes.
“The last two weeks have been really great for us points-wise and road racing isn’t my strong suit.”
Reddick, Bell and Cole Custer — who finished eighth Saturday after an eventful day on track — combined to win 13 of the first 18 Xfinity Series races of the season. With Bell’s second straight runner-up showing and Reddick’s fourth place finish, the defending series champion Reddick maintains a 24-point championship lead on Bell heading to Bristol next week. Cindric joins this threesome as the only Xfinity drivers with multiple wins in 2019.
Chase Briscoe, defending race winner Justin Allgaier and rookie Noah Gragson persevered for a good day as well. Briscoe won Stage 1 and finished seventh. Allgaier, the defending race winner, rallied to a sixth-place finish after a couple of off-track excursions. And the rookie Gragson impressed with a fifth-place finish after also being involved in some tight, full-contact racing as well.
The series races next Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Food City 300. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup star Kyle Larson won the Xfinity race last year.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race — 7th Annual B&L Transport 170 at Mid-Ohio
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019
1. (1) Austin Cindric, Ford, 75.
2. (3) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 75.
3. (6) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 75.
4. (10) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 75.
5. (7) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 75.
6. (8) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 75.
7. (5) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 75.
8. (4) Cole Custer, Ford, 75.
9. (13) Justin Haley #, Chevrolet, 75.
10. (9) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 75.
11. (11) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 75.
12. (22) Will Rodgers, Chevrolet, 75.
13. (21) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 75.
14. (16) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 75.
15. (2) Jack Hawksworth, Toyota, 75.
16. (14) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 75.
17. (20) Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 75.
18. (18) Tommy Joe Martins, Toyota, 75.
19. (26) Ray Black II, Chevrolet, 75.
20. (28) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 75.
21. (12) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 75.
22. (23) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 75.
23. (37) Patrick Gallagher, Chevrolet, 74.
24. (32) Brandon Brown #, Chevrolet, 74.
25. (35) Vinnie Miller, Chevrolet, 74.
26. (33) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 73.
27. (25) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 65.
28. (19) Lawson Aschenbach, Chevrolet, Accident, 63.
29. (17) Scott Heckert, Toyota, Accident, 57.
30. (31) Aaron Quine, Chevrolet, Accident, 42.
31. (15) John Hunter Nemechek #, Chevrolet, Accident, 41.
32. (24) Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, Accident, 36.
33. (29) David Starr, Chevrolet, Accident, 36.
34. (27) Chris Dyson, Chevrolet, Accident, 31.
35. (34) Chad Finchum, Toyota, Brakes, 13.
36. (30) Joey Gase, Toyota, Oil Line, 8.
37. (36) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 2.
38. (38) Max Tullman, Chevrolet, Fuel Pressure, 2.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 71.439 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 22 Mins, 14 Secs. Margin of Victory: 3.780 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 17 laps.
Lead Changes: 10 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: A. Cindric 1-18;C. Briscoe # 19-20;N. Gragson # 21;C. Bell 22-36;J. Hawksworth 37-41;J. Williams 42;M. Annett 43;A. Cindric 44-58;R. Smith 59;C. Briscoe # 60-62;A. Cindric 63-75.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Austin Cindric 3 times for 46 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 15 laps; Chase Briscoe # 2 times for 5 laps; Jack Hawksworth 1 time for 5 laps; Michael Annett 1 time for 1 lap; Josh Williams 1 time for 1 lap; Regan Smith 1 time for 1 lap; Noah Gragson # 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 98,9,51,19,39,00,1,4,78,93
Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,20,22,2,10,08,39,11,23,66
--By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media