NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Austin Cindric Wins Phoenix, Clinches 2020 Xfinity Series Championship

Austin Cindric survived an overtime restart, hard racing and challenges from his fellow title contenders to win the Desert Diamond Valley Casino 200 at Phoenix Raceway and, in doing so, clinch the NASCAR Xfinity Series title.

The crown is Cindric’s first after a stellar season in which he scored six victories; his sixth win and championship-clinching victory came in his 100th career start.

Cindric dominated the race until several late restarts put his title hopes in jeopardy; he passed Noah Gragson and held off Justin Allgaier on the final lap to secure the win and championship.

Fellow contender Allgaier led the opening lap before a caution for Jeffrey Earnhardt froze the field, but Chase Briscoe seized the top spot on the restart. The No. 98 led all the way until the competition caution, and Briscoe hit 1,000 laps led on the season in the process.

The nine-time winner in 2020 also won the opening stage after a multi-car crash involving CJ McLaughlin, JJ Yeley and Matt Mills forced another restart.

Briscoe lost spots on pit road and Allgaier took the top spot back. After a caution for Tommy Joe Martins, Cindric’s car started coming to him and he passed Allgaier for the lead, checking out as he did and winning stage 2.

Allgaier jumped back to the front of the field on the restart with half the race completed, while Brandon Jones made his way into the picture. A caution caught Briscoe and contender Justin Haley a lap down, but the No. 98 secured the free pass and restarted sixth.

Tire strategy played a part in the last caution as well, with Allgaier pitting to take his last set of tires while the others stayed out. Cindric led the way to the restart with 24 laps remaining and, despite an early challenge from Allgaier, set sail and had a second-and-a-half advantage with just five laps to go when the caution flew for Briscoe.

Briscoe lost control in the corner and lightly touched the wall, sending teams into strategy mode one more time; Allgaier and Ross Chastain were the only cars to stay out, while Cindric and a number of other drivers pitted.

With overtime facing the championship drivers, Allgaier restarted first and made contact with Cindric as the cars crossed under the white flag, but fell back into the field as Cindric slid by Gragson for the lead and win. The No. 22 led 72 laps, second-most to Allgaier.

“Amazing effort by this [No.] 22 team,” Cindric said in his post-race interview. “…There was a lot of work put into this racecar…it’s awesome to get [everyone] a championship in NASCAR and to be a champion in NASCAR, and do it in front of all these great people cheering us on. I’m speechless, I can’t believe it, I’m pretty humbled by the effort for sure.”

Cindric’s first title comes in his third full-time Xfinity Series season. He had previously finished eighth in 2018 and sixth in 2019; he hadn’t won in the past 13 races this season.

“This car came to life lap 1,” he added. “Talk about a relationship between driver and crew chief, I can ask him exactly – we were terrible here in the spring race, and I told him exactly what I needed and he gave it to me and look where we are. It’s amazing.”

Allgaier finished fifth, Haley eighth and Briscoe ninth. Gragson, spring Phoenix winner Brandon Jones, Michael Annett and Allgaier rounded out the top five.

Cindric will have 2021 to defend his title before he moves up to the Cup Series.

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Bill B

Another championship, another green, white, checker. Imagine that.
Maybe they should just add a 4th stage. The 3rd stage would end 2 laps before the end of the race guaranteeing all the races end with game 7 moments.
Wonder if you can bet on whether or not tomorrow’s race will end with a GWC and, if so, what are the odds.

DoninAjax

It depends on who is leading.

DoninAjax

I couldn’t believe that the only other Ford in the event would bring out the caution that could have cost Cindric the title.

Bill B

I noticed that a Ford brought out that final caution but there were 7 Fords in the field not just 2.

DoninAjax

There were only 2, the 22 and the 98, just like all year. 26 Chevs and 9 Toys.

Bill B

I’ll be damned. You’re absolutely correct, When I went to Jayski to check earlier I looked at the results from the truck race and not the Xfinity race by mistake when I was counting. Now that I see that I do remember reading something at the beginning of the season that Ford was pretty much abandoning the Xfinity series but I had long forgotten. Shows how little attention I pay to the manufacturers and the Xfinity series in general (although I did watch at least a few minutes of a lot of the Xfin races this year). I’m pretty sure I would have noticed that if it happened in the Cup series because I really do pay attention.

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