NASCAR Xfinity Series

Austin Cindric wins Pocono Green 225

3 Mins read
Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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 SeriesEuroNASCAR PRO championship leader Loris Hezemans placed twenty-seventh in his first American national series start on an oval longer than one mile.

Race results

11322Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord90Running
21454Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs RacingToyota90Running
327Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet90Running
479Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet90Running
5316A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet90Running
6618Daniel HemricJoe Gibbs RacingToyota90Running
7419Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota90Running
8510Jeb BurtonKaulig RacingChevrolet90Running
93331Josh BerryJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet90Running
10192Myatt SniderRichard Childress RacingChevrolet90Running
111702Brett MoffittOur MotorsportsChevrolet90Running
1281Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevrolet90Running
13951Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet90Running
142626Santino FerrucciSam Hunt RacingToyota90Running
152468Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet90Running
161636Alex LabbéDGM RacingChevrolet90Running
171239Ryan SiegRSS RacingFord90Running
18208Sam MayerJR MotorsportsChevrolet89Running
192948Jade BufordBig Machine RacingChevrolet89Running
201844Tommy Joe MartinsMartins MotorsportsChevrolet89Running
21234Landon CassillJD MotorsportsChevrolet89Running
22380Jeffrey EarnhardtJD MotorsportsChevrolet89Running
23275Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet89Running
243715Colby HowardJD MotorsportsChevrolet89Running
251561Austin Hill*Hattori Racing EnterprisesToyota89Running
263047Kyle WeathermanMike Harmon RacingChevrolet89Running
273990Loris HezemansDGM RacingChevrolet89Running
283217Carson WareSS-Green Light RacingChevrolet88Running
292878Jesse LittleB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyota88Running
303699Mason MasseyB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyota88Running
313474Jesse Iwuji*Mike Harmon RacingChevrolet88Running
323507Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet88Running
332566David StarrMBM MotorsportsToyota87Running
343123Blaine PerkinsOur MotorsportsChevrolet78Suspension
351098Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord45Accident
364052Joey GaseJimmy Means RacingChevrolet42Clutch
37120Harrison BurtonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota36Accident
381111Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet24Accident
39216Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsChevrolet24Accident
402292Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet11Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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