Last weekend it was Chase Briscoe’s turn to reach victory lane in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. It was his second win of his career and first of the season. This week, we have another first time winner in 2019.
Austin Cindric had a thrilling end of race battle with road racing ace AJ Allmendinger and won for the first time of his XFINITY Series career in an exhilarating Zippo 200 on Saturday afternoon at the Watkins Glen International.
Cindric’s win was aided by a gutsy pit call when his crew chief called him down pit road during the second to last caution for fresh tires. He was in the lead at the time but gave up track position for fresh Goodyear rubber.
It was a questionable call but one that netted him the win.
Cindric, restart the race around the top 10 but was quickly helped by a Lap 72 caution for a six car crash in Turn 1. The Team Penske driver made up a couple of spots before the caution flag flew. Then, on the final restart, Cindric was gifted more spots when Christopher Bell got loose with contact from behind and Cindric threaded the needed to get up to second. From then, he had 19 lap fresher tires than Allmendinger and had clean track to chase him down.
He was able to do so.
Cindric, used his bumper a bit through the inner loop and able to pull alongside of Allmendinger on Lap 80. He passed him but Allmendinger paid back the favor going into Turn 6 and moved Cindric high. Allmendinger then though used up too much of Turn 7 which allowed Cindric to pull back alongside and win a drag race down the front stretch while also taking the white flag.
He’d get by in Turn 1 and lead the final lap en route to Penske’s fourth win in the last five years of this race. Cindric, 20, now has 14 top 10 finishes this season and stamps his name into the postseason via his victory.
Heading into this weekend, Cindric was reeling a bit. His last three finishes were 14th, 27th and 37th respectively. Prior to that though, he had 13 straight top 11 results. Now, he adds another top 11, this time a win.
Allmendinger, finished runner-up in his No. 10 Chevrolet for the second straight year at Watkins Glen. He led a race high 24 of 82 laps on Saturday.
Christopher Bell was third in his No. 20 Toyota for his fifth consecutive top three finish on the season and sixth in the last seven weeks. He has 14 top 10 finishes on the year as well including 13 top fives. 12 of those 13 top fives were a top three result.
Justin Allgaier rebounded from two run ins with Ross Chastain early on in the race to bring his No. 7 Chevrolet home fourth. It was his fourth straight top seven finish on the year and sixth in the last eight races. He also has six consecutive top 10 finish in NXS competition at Watkins Glen.
Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five in his first career NXS start in Watkins Glen and first start of the season in the series.
Cindric New Road Racing Ace
Cindric’s background is in road courses. Now, he’s got four career NASCAR wins, all have come on road courses.
He has two K&N Series wins, one at VIR and the other in Watkins Glen. Both happened in 2016. In 2017, he won in Mosport in the Truck Series. Now, in 2019, he wins in the XFINITY Series at Watkins Glen.
Ryan Blaney races the No. 12 Ford for Team Penske in Saturday’s Zippo 200
Penske Dominates Again
Watkins Glen is Penske’s playground in the XFINITY Series. The win was their fourth in the last five years but first for someone other than Joey Logano who wasn’t entered to run in this weekend’s race. If you go back to 2013, Penske has won this race in all but two years.
They finished 1-5 on Saturday.
Justin Allgaier leads the field into Turn 1 during Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen
JRM Strong Again But Not Strong Enough
JR Motorsports keeps getting top 10 finishes. That’s great. But, they still can’t find enough speed to win. On Saturday, they put three drivers in the top 10 with Allgaier in fourth, Michael Annett in ninth and Noah Gragson in 10th.
Allgaier, has four top seven finishes in his last four starts on the year and six in his last seven. He just hasn’t won this season though and riding a 28 race winless streak.
Annett, earned his first career top 10 in WGI but his 14th of the season. He’s been consistent in his No. 1 Chevrolet all year including a win in Daytona in February.
Gragson, is the most consistent of all. He scored his ninth top 10 finish over the last 10 starts on the year.
Usual Suspect Still Up Front
It’s clear, we have a “Big 3” in the series but there are several drivers who can grab that fourth spot in Homestead.
Chase Briscoe finished seventh for his fourth straight top seven finish on the year. He has seven top seven’s in his last eight starts. Allgaier, has four straight top seven finishes and six in his last seven on the year.
Tyler Reddick was sixth for his fourth straight top six on the year. He has 15 top 10 finishes in his last 17 starts but 14 of those were in the top six.
Cole Custer has five top eight finishes in his last seven starts on the year. Four of those five were in the top two.
Christopher Bell has five straight top three finishes and 12 in 20 starts this year.
Cindric, has a win now and 14 top 11’s.
This is a stout group.
The gap from 12th to 13th is still over 100 points. Brandon Jones leads Gray Gaulding by 102 markers with six races remaining in the regular season. Allgaier (+310), Gragson (+250), Justin Haley (+195), John Hunter Nemechek (+172) and Ryan Sieg (+106) are the other drivers holding wildcard spots.
Jeremey Clements (-147), Brandon Brown (-153) and Ray Black Jr. (-221) are on the outside looking in.
Kyle Busch leads early on in Saturday’s Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen International
Busch’s Day Ends In Suspension Failure
Kyle Busch broke Joey Logano’s four year pole streak by earning the pole for Saturday’s race in his No. 18 Toyota. Busch started the day off with leading the first 21 laps. Unfortunately, a suspension failure on his car caused him to go off track in Turn 5 on Lap 33 ending his day early.
It ends a streak of four straight top two finishes for Busch in four starts in the series this season. He won this race in 2017.
In NXS and Truck starts this year, Busch has eight wins and a runner-up in nine starts. This was his first finish outside of second all year.
Zippo 200 Results
98 Briscoe R
9 Gragson R
23 Nemechek R
07 Black Jr.
0 Smithley -2
74 Corcoran -7
93 Bilicki OUT
15 McLeod OUT
66 Martins OUT
52 Starr OUT
39 Sieg OUT
18 Busch OUT
13 Finchum OUT
4 Chastain OUT
35 Gase OUT
38 Yeley OUT
78 Miller OUT