Austin Cindric once again has the most NASCAR Xfinity Series wins in 2021. After holding off Ty Gibbs in Sunday’s Pocono Green 225, he scored his fourth win of the year to break a tie with Cup Series driver Kyle Busch.
Harrison Burton started on the pole, while Riley Herbst was sent to the rear for unapproved adjustments. Jesse Iwuji made his first Xfinity start of the season in Mike Harmon Racing‘s #47 that Bayley Currey usually drives; being a driver change from the entry list, he was also ordered to start at the back.
Burton led the entire opening stage, with the halfway point of this 22-lap stretch being marked by Josh Williams hitting the turn one wall after contact with Santino Ferrucci. Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Daniel Hemric finished second, followed by Justin Allgaier, Cindric, A.J. Allmendinger, Gibbs, Noah Gragson, Jeb Burton, Justin Haley, and Josh Berry.
The start of the second stage lasted just one lap before Haley was turned and ping-ponged between the outside and inside walls, during which he was impacted by Ryan Vargas; series newcomer Sam Mayer also suffered damage in the incident.
Vargas was visibly emotional in his interview with NBCSN after being released from the infield care centre as the wreck adds to what has been a challenging rookie season. Furthermore, the hood of his #6 car featured a tribute to his friend and JD Motorsports car chief Brian Lear, who died in May and was from Pennsylvania; the #6 that Vargas drove in the race was also Lear’s final constructed car prior to his passing.
“I just nowhere to go. I feel awful for this team. It’s been a tough start to the year and it’s been a really good rebound recently,” Vargas told NBCSN. “I hate that we wrecked with Lear on the hood. I miss him a lot. I just hate disappointing and I feel like I did that today.”
The wreck resulted in a red flag that lasted five minutes, 41 seconds for track cleanup. Although not injured, Haley was battered hard enough in the accident that he had to lie down next to his car upon exiting, and he elected to skip the Cup race later in the day out of caution. Allgaier was tapped to drive his #77 Spire Motorsports car in the Cup event, making his return to the top level after also serving as an interim driver for Jimmie Johnson at Indianapolis last year
Allgaier was the leader as the race resumed. Hemric took the lead before Burton spun and hit the wall on lap 35, ending his day. Gibbs, also a JGR driver, inherited the lead for the next green flag after Hemric received a speeding penalty during the ensuing caution. By the end of the stage, Gibbs led Gragson, Brandon Jones, Myatt Snider, Herbst, Cindric, Burton, Allmendinger, Berry, and Allgaier.
Herbst’s race was cut short early in the final stage when he spun into the wall after contact from behind by Colby Howard. Herbst explained afterwards that he “cleared one of the backmarkers and he decided to drive it all the way back into my outside through the tunnel and I didn’t know he was there. I cleared him down Long Pond. It is frustrating for sure and hurts us in points and everything.”
The green flag waved on lap 49 with Cindric and Gragson leading. After ten laps, the field began green-flag stops that allowed Gibbs, Hemric (who was penalised again for speeding when he pitted), Jeremy Clements, and Alex Labbé to lead laps before Cindric re-assumed the top position on lap 75. Although it was just one lap, it was Labbé’s first led circuit of the year and his first since Road America in 2020.
Although Gibbs chased down Cindric and narrowed the gap to .331 seconds, he could not catch him as Cindric scored his fourth win of the year and first at Pocono.
“We gave him a chance, didn’t we? We had to make it exciting, I guess,” said Cindric. “I didn’t want it but I guess everybody else did. We will take it and we will take the trophy for sure.”
Elsewhere in the field, Mayer finished eighteenth in his Xfinity début. NASCAR Whelen Euro Series‘ EuroNASCAR PRO championship leader Loris Hezemans placed twenty-seventh in his first American national series start on an oval longer than one mile.
|1||13||22||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||90||Running|
|2||14||54||Ty Gibbs||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||90||Running|
|3||2||7||Justin Allgaier||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|4||7||9||Noah Gragson||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|5||3||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|6||6||18||Daniel Hemric||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||90||Running|
|7||4||19||Brandon Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||90||Running|
|8||5||10||Jeb Burton||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|9||33||31||Josh Berry||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|10||19||2||Myatt Snider||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|11||17||02||Brett Moffitt||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|12||8||1||Michael Annett||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|13||9||51||Jeremy Clements||Jeremy Clements Racing||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|14||26||26||Santino Ferrucci||Sam Hunt Racing||Toyota||90||Running|
|15||24||68||Brandon Brown||Brandonbilt Motorsports||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|16||16||36||Alex Labbé||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||90||Running|
|17||12||39||Ryan Sieg||RSS Racing||Ford||90||Running|
|18||20||8||Sam Mayer||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|19||29||48||Jade Buford||Big Machine Racing||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|20||18||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Martins Motorsports||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|21||23||4||Landon Cassill||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|22||38||0||Jeffrey Earnhardt||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|23||27||5||Matt Mills||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|24||37||15||Colby Howard||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|25||15||61||Austin Hill*||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||89||Running|
|26||30||47||Kyle Weatherman||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|27||39||90||Loris Hezemans||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||89||Running|
|28||32||17||Carson Ware||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||88||Running|
|29||28||78||Jesse Little||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Toyota||88||Running|
|30||36||99||Mason Massey||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Toyota||88||Running|
|31||34||74||Jesse Iwuji*||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||88||Running|
|32||35||07||Joe Graf Jr.||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||88||Running|
|33||25||66||David Starr||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||87||Running|
|34||31||23||Blaine Perkins||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||78||Suspension|
|35||10||98||Riley Herbst||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||45||Accident|
|36||40||52||Joey Gase||Jimmy Means Racing||Chevrolet||42||Clutch|
|37||1||20||Harrison Burton||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||36||Accident|
|38||11||11||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||24||Accident|
|39||21||6||Ryan Vargas||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||24||Accident|
|40||22||92||Josh Williams||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||11||Accident|
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points