Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway was a tale of two halves: the first two stages only featured one caution flag for an on-track incident, while the final segment was riddled by chaos and even a gesture that is certainly not family friendly. Excluding the competition caution and two stage break yellow flags, the Call 811 Before You Dig 200 featured seven cautions for race-related wrecks. By the end, Austin Cindric escaped further carnage in overtime to win his second race of the year.
Daniel Hemric started on the pole ahead of Brandon Jones. Michael Annett and Ryan Vargas were sent to the rear after failing inspection twice, while Whelen Euro Series regular Loris Hezemans went to the back due to a driver change as Chad Finchum was initially listed as the driver of MBM Motorsports‘ #13.
Cindric, who started third, took the lead on the first lap and held it for the entire opening stage. The segment’s lone caution was for the competition yellow on lap 22, though Jesse Little hit the wall in turn three on the final lap and ended his race in last. Jones, Harrison Burton, Hemric, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Justin Haley, Jeb Burton, Michael Annett, and Ty Gibbs also recorded stage points.
Hemric became the leader as the second stage began, but green-flag racing only lasted two laps before Dexter Bean spun in turn four for the first race-related caution of the day. Still seeking his first NASCAR win, Hemric stayed in front for the rest of the stage to take the green-checkered flag. Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate H. Burton finished behind him, followed by Allgaier, Cindric, Haley, J. Burton, last week’s winner A.J. Allmendinger, Josh Berry, Gibbs, and Jones.
Allgaier led the field to the start of the final segment, and hell eventually broke loose beginning with Tommy Joe Martins and Vargas’ wreck on lap 125. Further cautions came when Burton spun on lap 133, Brett Moffitt spun on lap 144, Berry went around on lap 149, and Allmendinger and Jones wrecked together on lap 167.
“Had a run, tried to jump to the outside but there was nothing but marbles just outside the groove,” Vargas wrote on Twitter afterward. “A move that didn’t work and a mistake I’ll never let myself live down. Dang.”
“I know the sun was in our eyes pretty bad off of turn two, but I just got ran over,” Jones explained regarding his crash with Allmendinger. “[…] I hate it for everybody who puts effort into it, but it looks like I just got ran over by A.J. I’ll keep a notebook of all of this stuff and use it in the future.”
Berry’s incident came shortly after cutting his tyre while racing Santino Ferrucci. Berry responded by flashing double middle fingers at Ferrucci as he drove by. The gesture drew raucous laughter from the FS1 booth, while Autoweek and Short Track Scene writer Matt Weaver tweeted, “Josh Berry is every reason why NASCAR needs a little more short track personality injected into it.” Ferrucci would finish fifteenth in his third race as a NASCAR driver, while Berry and his JR Motorsports team-mates endured an unusually difficult day as all but one (Allgaier) would finish thirty-sixth or worse.
“Car was great, had to pit for a loose wheel and got us behind and wrecked,” Berry tweeted after the race. “Not proud of my reaction but I have worked my whole life for these 12 races so they mean a little more than most. Onto Atlanta. We are only getting better every week.”
Amid the chaos, Cindric and Jones would be the only drivers to lead laps under green. The former took the lead on lap 147 and kept it through the final caution on lap 193 for Alex Labbé‘s wreck, which set up overtime.
The first lap of overtime was marked by additional chaos when Cindric pulled ahead with Allgaier in tow. Haley and Hemric hit the wall in turn three, while Allgaier’s hopes were dashed when he also collided with the wall and knocked him off the pace. Facing little opposition, Cindric drove off to his second win of the year, second at Phoenix, and tenth of his career. The win ties Cindric with Robert Pressley on the all-time Xfinity win list; incidentally, Pressley’s son Coleman is Cindric’s spotter.
Cindric described overtime as “a bit of a role reversal” from the final restart in the 2020 Phoenix fall race to determine the championship, which Cindric ultimately won after again holding off Algaier: “Instead of me picking the line right behind Allgaier to keep the enemy close, he did the same thing to me today. It was interesting to see the role reversal and he did a great job on the restart with his launch there. I definitely want to go back and study that.
“[…] The caution did not play into my hands but the caution laps definitely did because I felt like we were really bad on the splitter for the first five laps and were really vulnerable. I was worried I was going to get eaten up there and obviously we had the buffer to manage it.”
Gibbs finished second to continue his exceptional start to his Xfinity career with an average finish of 1.5 after two races; he won in his series début on the Daytona road course in February. Riley Herbst scored his first top five of the season in fourth for a strong rebound after a difficult start to his Stewart-Haas Racing tenure. Allgaier was the lone JRM driver to finish in the top half of the field as he ended his day in eighth. Blaine Perkins‘ Xfinity début with Our Motorsports saw him finish twenty-fourth, while Hezemans finished thirty-first in his first Xfinity race since 2019.
Brandon Brown and Bayley Currey scored career-best finishes in third and seventh, respectively; the latter enjoyed his first career Xfinity top ten and his first such finish in a national series since he recorded a sixth-place run in the 2019 Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan. Currey also notched Mike Harmon Racing‘s second top ten in their history after team-mate Kyle Weatherman finished eighth at Kentucky in 2020.
“That was awesome,” Brown shared in a Twitter video. “I mean, everybody going four or five wide, just incredible. I am over the moon that we were able to keep it stuck down on the bottom and kind of avoid some of the bigger incidents, stay in it. The track stayed green and we were able to capitalise with a third-place finish. We’re getting so much closer to knocking down that first win.”
|1||3||22||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||200||Running|
|2||27||54||Ty Gibbs||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|3||11||68||Brandon Brown||Brandonbilt Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|4||30||98||Riley Herbst||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||200||Running|
|5||4||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|6||6||10||Jeb Burton||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|7||29||74||Bayley Currey||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|8||12||7||Justin Allgaier||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|9||20||02||Brett Moffitt*||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|10||13||51||Jeremy Clements||Jeremy Clements Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|11||19||2||Myatt Snider||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|12||33||17||J.J. Yeley||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|13||7||20||Harrison Burton||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|14||39||66||Timmy Hill||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||200||Running|
|15||14||26||Santino Ferrucci||Sam Hunt Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|16||24||15||Colby Howard||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|17||15||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Martins Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|18||35||99||Stefan Parsons||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|19||21||0||Jeffrey Earnhardt||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|20||32||48||Jade Buford||Big Machine Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|21||17||92||Josh Williams||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|22||18||4||Landon Cassill||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|23||1||18||Daniel Hemric||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|24||28||23||Blaine Perkins||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|25||16||07||Joe Graf Jr.||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|26||5||11||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|27||34||52||Gray Gaulding||Jimmy Means Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|28||37||61||David Starr||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||199||Running|
|29||22||90||Dexter Bean||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||198||Running|
|30||25||6||Ryan Vargas||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||197||Running|
|31||40||13||Loris Hezemans||MBM Motorsports||Chevrolet||195||Running|
|32||36||36||Alex Labbé||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||194||Running|
|33||2||19||Brandon Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||165||Accident|
|34||26||47||Kyle Weatherman||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||164||Running|
|35||38||5||Matt Mills||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||157||Running|
|36||9||8||Josh Berry||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||146||Accident|
|37||31||39||Ryan Sieg||RSS Racing||Ford||133||Accident|
|38||8||1||Michael Annett||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||93||Engine|
|39||10||9||Noah Gragson||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||67||Engine|
|40||23||78||Jesse Little||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Toyota||44||Accident|
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points