No. 22, 22 Year-Old Driver, Another Championship for Penske Racing
(PHOENIX, AZ - NOV 7, 2020 - RIS) Austin Cindric probably had the best car at Phoenix, setting the fastest time of the race and leading 72 of the 206 laps to win the season-ending Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 on his way to the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.
Justin Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric and Justin Haley started the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 with a shot at the season championship. Harrison Burton, coming off two straight wins in the last two races, started fifth with Noah Gragson beside him. Jeffrey Earnhardt's spin on the back stretch brought out the first caution on lap 3 when "it just stumbled and then it died" and Bayley Currey had nowhere to go, spinning Earnhardt into the inside wall.
Allgaier led the field on the restart, with Cindric chasing, but Briscoe took the race lead, followed by Cindric and Allgaier third. Cindric kept trying the inside line, pulling even with Briscoe but not able to complete a pass, as the Briscoe brushed the wall on lap 17, allowing Cindric a chance at the pass but lapped traffic blocked his line and he dropped back in line approaching the competition caution on lap 20.
Briscoe, Allgaier and Cindric ran one-two-three at the restart with Cindric taking second within the first lap but a four-car group spin involving CJ McLaughlin, Donald Theetge, JJ Yeley and Matt Mills caused another caution almost immediately.
The lap 34 restart had Allgaier inside the first row but he dropped back into second behind Briscoe, just ahead of Cindric, with Gragson and Chastain buffers between the lead trio and Justin Haley.
Tommy Joe Martins' engine let go in a trail of smoke on lap 74, sending him to the garage and ending the battle between Allgaier and Cindric for the race lead.
Allgaier headed the pack again at the restart with Cindric moving into second place, making an inside pass for the lead, stretching the gap steadily as Briscoe tried to catch Allgaier for
second. Cindric held the point for the stage two win, with over half the race remaining to be run.
Brandon Jones' crew got him off of pit road first, followed closely by Briscoe, Cindric and Allgaier but at the restart, Allgaier used an inside choose to sweep into the lead immediately with Brandon Jones, Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe and Cindric the top five after the first green flag lap. Allgaier pulled out to a one-second gap over Cindric, but within 21 laps, Cindric had closed to right on the No. 7's bumper. Cindric swept around Allgier on lap 130, then slowly edged out ahead of the field as Brandon Jones closed on Allgaier's bumper. During the duel between Cindric and Allgaier, Briscoe slid the right side of his No, 98 Ford against the wall lightly but continued with minimal damage.
Jones got the second spot from Allgaier and Allgaier later reported that he thought the right front tire was coming apart, then quickly corrected himself, saying that it was alright.
Allgaier was the first of the championship contenders to pit, pulling in with 40 laps left, followed by Justin Haley as bo0th took on four tires and fuel. Cindric pitted shortly after that, also four tires and fuel and no adjustments to the car. The No. 22 Ford has required only a single minor tire pressure adjustment for the entire race so far.
Joe Graff Jr's slide into the wall brought out a caution in the middle of the green flag pit stop cycle, leaving only five cars on the lead lap at the time and trapping Briscoe and Haley a lap down. Briscoe was running sixth, the first championship contender not on the lead lap and can potentially get a free pass.
Allgaier pitted for tires, while Cindric stayed on the track, possibly saving a set of fresh tires for Cindric but using Allgaier's last set.
Cindric and Ross Chastain led the field to the restart with Chastain leading briefly, then Allgaier and Cindric both swept by and began a 20-lap race to the checker and championship.
With just three laps left, Ryan Briscoe spun out of the fourth turn, bringing out a caution and forcing a restart strategy on Cindric, who has a fresh set of tires and pitted for them, joined by Justin Haley after last night's truck series win. Allgaier stayed out on older tires, heading to the choose and the green-white-checker overtime finish. Allgaier will start in the lead, with Cindric starting third on brand new tires, separated from Allgaier by Ross Chastain. Allgaier chose the top lane, with Cindric right behind him and Chastain inside the front row.
Gragson tried to take the lead, with Cindric cutting between Gragson and Allgaier, then Cindric took the lead from Gragson for the win and the championship in his 100th series start. Before the race, Cindric commented that among himself, his father, president of Penske Racing and his mother, she would be the most excited of the three. Cindric's victory burnout exploded the left rear tire and shredded the fender.
"I've certainly learned to race a little better," said Austin.
"They obviously were the best car, they deserved to win," said Allgaier following the race.
Unofficial results, Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200, Phoenix Raceway
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Pts, Status
1) 3, *Austin Cindric (P), 22, Menards/Richmond Ford, 206, 2, 1, 4, 72, 40, Running
2) 6, Noah Gragson, 9, Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber Camo Chevrolet, 206, 4, 5, 1, 1, 48, Running
3) 8, Brandon Jones, 19, Toyota Service Centers Toyota, 206, 10, 4, 1, 3, 42, Running
4) 10, Michael Annett, 1, Pilot Flying J Chevrolet, 206, 6, 6, , , 43, Running
5) 1, Justin Allgaier (P), 7, BRANDT Chevrolet, 206, 3, 2, 7, 76, 32, Running
6) 5, Harrison Burton #, 20, DEX Imaging Toyota, 206, 8, 8, , , 37, Running
7) 7, Ross Chastain, 10, Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet, 206, 5, , 1, 10, 36, Running
8) 4, Justin Haley (P), 11, LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, 206, 7, 7, , , 29, Running
9) 2, Chase Briscoe (P), 98, HighPoint.com Ford, 206, 1, 3, 2, 41, 28, Running
10) 13, Jeremy Clements, 51, Diecast Kings Chevrolet, 206, , 9, , , 29, Running
11) 9, Riley Herbst #, 18, Monster Energy Toyota, 206, 9, , , , 28, Running
12) 14, Brandon Brown, 68, Larry's Hard Pink Lemonade Chevrolet, 205, , , , , 25, Running
13) 16, Josh Williams, 92, Musselman's/JW Hospital Tour Chevrolet, 205, , , , , 24, Running
14) 27, BJ McLeod, 78, Koolbox Toyota, 205, , , , , 23, Running
15) 33, Bayley Currey(i), 74, Fort Worth Screen Printing Chevrolet, 205, , , , , 0, Running
16) 29, David Starr, 07, Chasco/Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, 205, , , , , 21, Running
17) 31, Kyle Weatherman, 47, Keystone K9 LLC. Chevrolet, 205, , , , , 20, Running
18) 15, Myatt Snider #, 21, TaxSlayer Chevrolet, 204, , 10, , , 20, Running
19) 12, Brett Moffitt(i), 02, Fr8Auctions Chevrolet, 204, , , , , 0, Running
20) 25, Colby Howard, 15, Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet, 204, , , , , 17, Running
21) 21, Alex Labbe, 36, rousseau/Prolon Controls Chevrolet, 203, , , , , 16, Running
22) 30, Kody Vanderwal #, 52, Felora Chevrolet, 203, , , , , 15, Running
23) 19, Timmy Hill(i), 13, RoofClaim.com Toyota, 203, , , , , 0, Running
24) 24, Mason Diaz, 26, Mulch Mate Toyota, 202, , , , , 13, Running
25) 18, Daniel Hemric, 8, Poppy Bank Chevrolet, 201, , , , , 12, Running
26) 34, JJ Yeley(i), 61, WORKPRO TOOLS Toyota, 200, , , , , 0, Running
27) 23, Joe Graf Jr #, 08, Bucked Up Energy Chevrolet, 199, , , , , 10, Running
28) 37, Stan Mullis, 66, Sharelife Vacations Toyota, 198, , , , , 9, Running
29) 20, Jesse Little #, 4, TeamJDMotorsports.com Chevrolet, 198, , , , , 8, Running
30) 36, Jesse Iwuji(i), 99, TrueCar Military Chevrolet, 197, , , , , 0, Running
31) 11, Ryan Sieg, 39, CMRRoofing.com Chevrolet, 196, , , , , 6, Running
32) 22, Jeffrey Earnhardt, 0, Contec Inc. Chevrolet, 185, , , , , 5, Running
33) 28, Ryan Vargas, 6, TikTok Chevrolet, 124, , , , , 4, Running
34) 17, Tommy Joe Martins, 44, Gilreath Farms Red Angus Chevrolet, 73, , , 1, 3, 3, Engine
35) 32, Matt Mills, 5, JF Electric Toyota, 36, , , , , 2, Accident
36) 26, Donald Theetge, 90, Theetge Chevrolet Chevrolet, 27, , , , , 1, Accident
37) 35, CJ McLaughlin, 93, SciAps Chevrolet, 27, , , , , 1, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (*) season champion, (#) Rookie
Time of race: 2 hr, 13 min, 51 sec
Race length: 206 laps, 206. miles
Average speed: 92.342 mph
Margin of victory: 0.162 sec
Stage 1 Top 10: 98, 22, 7, 9, 10, 1, 11, 20, 18, 19
Stage 2 Top 10: 22, 7, 98, 19, 9, 1, 11, 20, 51, 21
Comments: Austin Cindric won the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 at Phoenix Raceway, his sixth victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Caution flags: 8 for 47 laps;
Laps: 3-6 (#0 Incident Backstretch [None]);
22-26 (Competition );
29-34 (#93, 90, 61, 5, Incident Turn 2 );
47-53 (Stage 1 Conclusion );
76-80 (Possible Fluid From #44 );
92-98 (Stage 2 Conclusion );
171-177 (#08 Incident Turn 3 );
199-204 (#98 Incident Turn 4 ).
Lead Changes: 16 among 7 drivers;
J. Allgaier (P) 1-6;
C. Briscoe (P) 7-33;
J. Allgaier (P) 34;
C. Briscoe (P) 35-48;
J. Allgaier (P) 49;
T. Martins 50-52;
J. Allgaier (P) 53-82;
A. Cindric (P) 83-93;
J. Allgaier (P) 94;
B. Jones 95-97;
J. Allgaier (P) 98-129;
A. Cindric (P) 130-162;
R. Chastain 163-172;
A. Cindric (P) 173-199;
J. Allgaier (P) 200-204;
N. Gragson 205;
A. Cindric (P) 206.
Mobil 1 Driver of the Race: Noah Gragson, #9
Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Harrison Burton, #20
Driver Champion: Austin Cindric Team: No. 22 Team Penske Ford
Austin Cindric has won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship; his previous best finish in the final series standings was sixth last year.
Cindric is the 30th different driver to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series title
Cindric won the season finale at Phoenix Raceway to claim the 2020 Xfinity title.
Cindric made 33 starts this season posting six wins, 19 top fives and 26 top 10s.
In the Playoffs this season, Cindric has posted one win, two top fives and five top 10s.
Austin Cindric, from Mooresville, North Carolina, has become the seventh different NASCAR Xfinity Series champion from the state of North Carolina; joining Sam Ard (Asheboro), Jack Ingram (Asheville), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis), Brian Vickers (Thomasville), Austin Dillon (Welcome), and William Byron (Charlotte).
Owner Champion: Team Penske
This is Team Penske’s second NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship (Brad Keselowski, 2010 and Austin Cindric, 2020)
This is Team Penske’s series record tying fifth NASCAR Xfinity Series owner championship (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020); joining Richard Childress Racing (five) and Joe Gibbs Racing (five) with the series-most owner titles.
Team Penske is one of 17 different organizations to win a championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Team Penske has led nine different drivers to Victory Lane for a total of 76 wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Justin Allgaier, Brad Keselowski, Sam Hornish Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano and Austin Cindric.
Owner Roger Penske fielded the team’s first car in the series with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace behind the wheel at Auto Club Speedway on October 19, 1997.
Crew Chief Champion: Brian Wilson
This is Brian Wilson’s first career NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, his previous best finish in the series championship standings was sixth last season with driver Austin Cindric.
Wilson is the 28th different crew chief to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series title.
Wilson has won 18 NASCAR Xfinity Series races with four drivers: Brad Keselowski (four), Ryan Blaney (two), Joey Logano (four) and Austin Cindric (eight).
Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.