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Xfinity doubleheader at Kentucky: Cindric x2

Xfinity doubleheader at Kentucky: Cindric x2

NASCAR Xfinity Series Shady Rays 200 at Kentucky Speedway
Cindric prevails to score his first win of the season

Sparta, KY, July 9/20 (GRW): So far this year, the Penske driver Austin Cindric has not quite been able to close the deal and win an Xfinity race – despite being touted as a favourite to do well in the season-end playoffs. The pandemic has scrambled the schedule and now, in mid-July, we were presented with a double-header of Xfinity races as part of a marathon weekend of four NASCAR races plus an ARCA race at this cookie-cutter 1.5-mile oval. Despite Noah Gragson leading the most laps – 87 of the race’s 136 laps – Cindric took the lead coming off the fifth caution and he hung on to the end to take the win.

PHOTO NXS 1 Kentucky Restart 070920Chase Briscoe, #98, and Austin Cindric, #22, lead the field during the Shady Rays 200 (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After the sixth caution, the other Ford driver Chase Briscoe jumped from the second row into second place behind Cindric. The two were side-by-side for the final restart which came in overtime; Briscoe nudged ahead to be credited with leading a single lap but Cindric had the upper hand and he regained the lead until a pile-up on the backstretch, after the white flag had been shown, froze the field and made Cindric the race winner.

In that final lap melee, Briscoe fell to fourth behind Riley Herbst and Ross Chastain. Michael Annett was scored in fifth place. Gragson. Gragson had continued to run in the top five until after the fifth caution ended on lap 94; after making contact with his teammate Justin Allgaier he faded back and he finished the race in 11th place.

"Thank you, finally," an exuberant Cindric screamed into his team radio after passing under the checkered flag. "We’ve come so close all year, these guys have given me so many awesome cars," Cindric told the FS1 broadcast. I’m pumped. This is awesome. I’d love to be able to come back and enjoy another performance like that tomorrow night. All the credit to my guys for getting me here."

• Click HERE for the results of the Kentucky Xfinity race #1

PHOTO NXS 2 Kentucky FinishLine 071020In a carbon copy of his finish the day before, Austin Cindric crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway
Cindric scores a dominant in the second half of the Kentucky doubleheader

Sparta, KY, July 10/20 (GRW): All eyes were on Austin Cindric, who had won the Xfinity race here the previous evening to see if he could do it a second time. Despite starting in 15th place due to the quirky inverted starting order, he was up to third place by the end of the first 45-lap Stage in the 200-lap race. After that, he led essentially every lap to win the race by a 2.3-second margin over his Ford semi-teammate Chase Briscoe.

Given the starting lineup for this race – the second of a two-day doubleheader – which saw the race order of the top 15 from the day before inverted to make up the starting order for the second race – the first Stage was going to be all about sorting out the sheep from the goats. But when the first Stage ended we had familiar names at the front – Noah Gragson, Harrison Burton, Cindric.

Despite having won two races early on, the rookie Burton has been hampered by the lack of practice sessions in the pandemic-era races but this time he had the advantage of having raced over 100 laps on this same track the day before – and this showed. Soon after the second Stage went green, he passed Gragson for the lead which he held for 13 laps until the juggernaut Cindric came up to usurp the lead.

After that, it was Cindric the rest of the way to the checker. Needless to say, he won the second Stage. In all, he led 130 laps, well over half of the race distance – including the final 43 laps – and he would likely have led all the laps after he took the lead except for a cycle of green-flag laps in which he pitted before some of the others and he had to wait until they pitted and handed the lead back over to him.

"I’m just so excited, this is all a credit to my team," Cindric said. "What we did tonight was really impressive because we came with one set-up last night and won the race and came with another set-up tonight and won again. That happens at the shop and with the guys on the box so all the credit to them, I’m the lucky one who gets to drive."

Justin Haley finished third, behind Briscoe, while Ross Chastain was fourth and Justin Allgaier was fifth. This time, Gragson who had led the most laps the day before, finished up in seventh place after a coming-together with Harrison which resulted in both cars hitting the outer wall – and some fisticuffs later in pit lane. Harrison’s good run was spoiled and he was relegated to 12th in the final standings.

It should be noted that Cindric’s two wins here were his first wins in an Xfinity car on an oval raceway. This is significant because, if he is hopeful of winning the Xfinity championship this year, he will have to excel on the ovals during the playoffs. The finale will be run at Phoenix, a one-mile oval.

• Click HERE to see the results of Kentucky Xfinity race #1

• The next Xfinity race will be run next Saturday, July 18 at Texas Motor Speedway

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