NASCAR Xfinity Series

Austin Cindric butchers field in OT for Beef 300 win, Penske NXS team meats Daytona Victory Lane for first time

4 Mins read
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Fresh off his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, Austin Cindric is already steak-ing his claim for a repeat. Starting from the pole, he held off Brett Moffitt in overtime to win the season-opening Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

Cindric was placed on the pole after qualifying was cancelled due to rain, and the use of 2020’s owner points meant championship runner-up Justin Allgaier started second. While Cindric and Riley Herbst would see early success by spending time in the lead, the same could not be said for DGM Racing as their drivers brought out the first three cautions: Alex Labbé spun on lap five after being clipped by Ty Dillon, followed by Josh Williams‘ car stopping on the backstretch on lap 11 for a flat left-rear tyre and a spin eight laps later.

Although Herbst, new to Stewart-Haas Racing, led for much of the opening stage, he would lose the segment win to former Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Brandon Jones by just .004 of a second. Dillon, the fastest driver in Friday’s practice, finished third in the stage ahead of Cindric, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Allgaier, Harrison Burton, Ryan Sieg, and Brandon Brown.

Sieg, who switched to Ford beginning in 2021, led for much of Stage #2 before being passed by Camping World Truck Series full-timer Moffitt. On lap 62, as Moffitt crossed the line for the stage win, the first major wreck of the day took place when Jones came down in the tri-oval and clipped by Myatt Snider, sending him through the grass and into the outside wall; as his car slid down the track, Cody Ware was unable to avoid him. Labbé also collided with Jones.

Dillon finished second in the stage, followed by Cindric, Haley, Brown, Sieg, Jeremy Clements, Snider, Gragson, and Josh Berry.

Cindric led the field to the start of Stage #3. After ten laps, as much of the field prepared to pit under green, Michael Annett spun up the course, triggering a multi-car crash that collected Sieg, Robby Lyons, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding, Colby Howard, and Bayley Currey. Lyons collided with a safety truck after a miscommunication with his spotter, who was subsequently ordered to the NASCAR hauler.

“Thankful that everyone on the AMR safety crew are safe after last night. I wasn’t made aware that the apron in T3 was impassable. Tower had communicated multiple instructions to the spotter but I was told nothing. LF tire came apart as my car enters T3,” Lyons began in a Twitter thread. “I knew that if I had locked up the brakes, I was going to be pointed toward the back of the ambulance. I let off the brakes to turn the car right and get away from it and slow the car on the the banking, and there was nothing I could do to keep it from sliding down.

“I personally requested to meet with the head of the AMR safety crew following the incident to express my sincere apologies and cover the incident in detail as I had earlier with series Director Wayne Auton. I’m thankful that when we all left the race track last night, we were all able to put the incident behind us and that everyone was safe in what was a scary yet preventable situation. I know myself and my team will make the necessary changes moving forward.”

Burton would enjoy the longest stretch in the front as the race hit the triple-digit mark, leading twenty-eight laps. Yet another Big One took place on lap 106, this time featuring the leaders, when Dillon got loose while receiving a push from Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Hemric in turn three. Allgaier, Herbst, Brown, Justin Haley, Timmy Hill, Jeb Burton, Josh Berry, Danny Bohn, among others were also victims of the wreck.

Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Cindric took the lead as the race resumed on lap 113, but what would be the final wreck occurred two laps later when Landon Cassill was hooked by Burton and Tommy Joe Martins by Jeremy Clements in the tri-oval, sending Cassill and Martins spinning and the latter through the infield; Martins’ splitter dug into the wet grass, destroying his front end. Cassill and Martins, both racing for small teams, had been fighting for top-ten positions.

“Hated that for Landon and his team,” Burton tweeted. “I don’t just wreck people. I believe he wasn’t aware I was outside of him.”

In overtime, a strong restart kept Cindric in front while Moffitt and both Burtons were unable to catch up as he pulled away for his ninth career victory. Besides being Team Penske‘s first Xfinity win at Daytona, Cindric also became the second driver to win an Xfinity title followed by the Daytona opener the following year, joining Randy LaJoie who won the 1996 championship and 1997 opener. LaJoie, father of current Cup Series driver Corey, would also go on to win the 1997 title.

The win continues what has been an eventful Speedweeks for Cindric, who will make his Cup début in Sunday’s Daytona 500 for Penske.

“What an awesome race,” Cindric stated. “What a really fast Verizon 5G Ford Mustang. Unbelievable effort by everyone at Team Penske. Obviously, coming off a lot of momentum winning that championship last year, but nothing is guaranteed and keep working hard.”

With Daytona’s reputation for underdog success, other notable finishes included Brandon Gdovic and Sam Hunt Racing scoring their maiden top ten in eighth and Jason White finishing tenth in his first NASCAR race since since 2014. Joe Graf Jr. came up short of a top ten but recorded his career best finish of eleventh, a feat also accomplished by Caesar Bacarella in twelfth. Brown’s sixth-place finish ties his best on a superspeedway, coincidentally also at Daytona, in 2019.

Race results

1122Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord122Running
21502Brett Moffitt*Our MotorsportsChevrolet122Running
3820Harrison BurtonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota122Running
4710Jeb BurtonKaulig RacingChevrolet122Running
53116A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet122Running
61468Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet122Running
7112Myatt SniderRichard Childress RacingChevrolet122Running
83926Brandon GdovicSam Hunt RacingToyota122Running
91218Daniel HemricJoe Gibbs RacingToyota122Running
104023Jason WhiteRSS RacingFord122Running
111807Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet122Running
123890Caesar BacarellaB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet122Running
133699Stefan ParsonsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet122Running
143254Ty DillonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota122Running
153447Kyle WeathermanMike Harmon RacingChevrolet122Running
16275Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet122Running
172478Jesse LittleB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet122Running
18216Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsChevrolet122Running
192848Danny Bohn*Big Machine RacingChevrolet122Running
203766Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsFord121Running
211792Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet120Running
221651Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet120Running
23334Landon CassillJD MotorsportsChevrolet114Accident
242244Tommy Joe MartinsMartins MotorsportsChevrolet114Accident
252361Robby LyonsMBM MotorsportsToyota105Accident
26498Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord105Accident
2798Josh BerryJR MotorsportsChevrolet104Accident
2827Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet104Accident
29311Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet104Accident
302613Chad FinchumMBM MotorsportsFord104Accident
311339Ryan SiegRSS RacingFord81DVP
3259Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet76Accident
333074Bayley Currey*Mike Harmon RacingChevrolet75Accident
343552Gray GauldingJimmy Means RacingChevrolet75Accident
352015Colby HowardJD MotorsportsChevrolet75Accident
36101Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevrolet74Accident
37250Jeffrey EarnhardtJD MotorsportsChevrolet74Accident
38619Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota60Accident
392917Cody Ware*SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet60Accident
401936Alex LabbéDGM RacingChevrolet60Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
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About author
Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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