From a late penalty to victory, AJ Allmendinger became the first repeat winner at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after the Los Gatos, California, native fended off teammate Justin Haley, Ty Gibbs and the field in overtime to win the B&L Transport 170 at Mid-Ohio on Saturday, June 5, as he also claimed his second victory of this year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
The starting lineup was based on a performance metric formula, weighing the driver’s and owner’s results from a previous Xfinity event, the owner points position and the fastest lap recorded from a previous Xfinity race. With that, Austin Cindric, the regular-season points leader, started on pole position and was joined on the front row with Ty Gibbs, winner of Friday’s ARCA Menards Series event at Mid-Ohio and last weekend’s event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Prior to the event, Kris Wright and Ryan Ellis dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments.
When the green flag waved and the race commenced, Cindric and Gibbs battled for the lead through the first two turns.
It did not take long, however, for the first caution of the event to fly when Noah Gragson drove off the track and through the grass, where he destroyed the front nose from his car that was also leaking fluid and smoke. Behind, Cody Ware spun in Turn 2. While Ware continued, Gragson parked his battered car between Turns 2 and 3 as his race came to an early end.
Following the incident, the race restarted on the fifth lap. At the start, Cindric maintained the lead followed by Gibbs, Harrison Burton, Jeb Burton, Justin Allgaier and the field.
Three laps later, the caution returned when Tommy Joe Martins due to fluid on the course when the engine from Tommy Joe Martins’ machine expired.
Another four laps later, the race restarted, with Cindric and Gibbs retaining the front row. At the start, Gibbs made his move beneath Cindric’s No. 22 PPG Ford Mustang to take the lead. Cindric, though, was quick to reassume the advantage in Turn 4, where he continued to fend off Gibbs and lead when the field returned to the start/finish line.
On Lap 15, AJ Allmendinger muscled his No. 16 Ramco Specialties Chevrolet Camaro into the lead over Cindric.
Three laps later and with Allmendinger still leading, Harrison Burton damaged the front nose and splitter from his No. 20 Dex Imaging Toyota Supra after going off-course in Turn 1. Despite the incident, the race continued to run under green.
In the final laps of the first stage, names like Ty Gibbs, Daniel Hemric, Andy Lally and Myatt Snider pitted for fuel. Back on the track, Allmendinger continued to lead by more than three seconds over Cindric.
In Turn 9, Miguel Paludo spun in the gravel trap, but the race continued to run under green. With a healthy advantage over the field, Allmendinger was able to navigate his way back to the start/finish line and win the first stage on Lap 25. Cindric was scored in second place followed by Haley, Jeb Burton, Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst, Alex Labbe, Michael Annett and Jeremy Clements.
Under the stage break, nearly the entire field led by Allmendinger pitted while Gibbs, Snider, Hemric, Ryan Sieg and Lally remained on the track.
The second stage started on Lap 30 with Gibbs and Hemric on the front row. At the start, Gibbs maintained the lead over Hemric, Snider and the field. Cindric, meanwhile, was back in seventh while Allmendinger was in fifth behind Andy Lally. By then, Justin Allgaier took his car to the garage due to a mechanical issue.
Just past the Lap 40 mark and with Gibbs still leading, the caution flew due to Jeremy Clements stalling his car in the Acura Bridge.
Four laps later, the race restarted. At the start, Allmendinger, who restarted alongside Gibbs, made his move to take the lead in Turn 2. By Turn 5, teammate Justin Haley moved into the runner-up spot while Gibbs was shuffled back in third in front of Brandon Jones, Hemric and Jeb Burton.
On Lap 46, trouble ignited for Daniel Hemric, who limped back to pit road after he blew a left-rear tire, which damaged the left-rear side of Hemric’s No. 18 Poppy Bank Toyota Supra. He was able to limp back to pit road and keep the race running under green.
Not long after, Allmendinger pitted along with Gibbs, Lally, Brett Moffitt, Josh Williams and Miguel Paludo. During the pit stops, however, Allmendinger was penalized for failing to meet minimum pit stop time and was required to start at the rear of the field for the final stage.
Back on the track, Haley assumed the lead in his No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro. With the clean air, Haley was able to claim the second stage victory on Lap 50 by nearly two seconds over Brandon Jones. Jones settled in second followed by Jeb Burton, Herbst, Cindric, Labbe, Snider, Brandon Brown, Annett and Ryan Ellis.
Under the stage break, the leaders pitted for tires with some opting to pit again for fuel. During the stops, Andy Lally was penalized for an uncontrolled tire violation.
With 20 laps remaining, the final stage commenced as Ryan Sieg and Cindric started on the front row. At the start, Cindric muscled to the lead on the outside lane in Turn 1 while the field behind scrambled for positions.
Down to the final eight laps of the event, Cindric was leading by nearly 11 seconds over Gibbs while Allmendinger, following his penalty, was in third place, trailing by 13 seconds. Moffitt was in fourth followed by Michael Annett and Haley.
Then, the caution flew when Jeb Burton spun in Turn 4 and was stuck in the gravel trap. Under caution, the leaders remained on the track.
With five laps remaining, the race restarted. At the start, Allmendinger quickly made his move beneath Gibbs and Cindric entering Turn 1. With all three competitors making contact against one another in a three-wide battle, Allmendinger returned to the lead past the first turn. As Brett Moffitt moved into the runner-up spot, contact from Gibbs Annett and Haley resulted with Cindric getting hit and spinning in the grass, which ended Cindric’s hopes of winning.
Despite the incident, the race continued to run under green as Allmendinger retained the lead. Not long after, however, the caution flew due to a multi-car incident in Turn 6 that involved Kris Wright, Alex Labbe and Kyle Weatherman with everyone else scattering around the circuit to avoid the incident.
Under caution, Moffitt, who was running in the runner-up spot, lost power as a result of a fuel pump issue and stalled on the track, effectively ending his hopes of battling for the win.
With the race sent into overtime, Allmendinger received a strong start through the first turn to maintain the lead over teammate Haley and Gibbs while everyone else scattered and scrambled for positions through the first two turns.
When the final lap started, Allmendinger maintained a decent advantage over Haley and Gibbs. With the leaders clearly out in front, chaos ensued behind, starting with Riley Herbst getting into Miguel Paludo in Turn 1 as Paludo spun. Shortly after, Andy Lally bumped into Herbst and sent Herbst’s No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang spinning in Turn 2.
Back to the front, Allmendinger continued to lead Haley and Gibbs through Turns 4 and 5. Having the lead in his sole possession, Allmendinger was able to navigate his way through the 13-turn circuit for a final time to claim the checkered flag and win.
With his second victory of the season, Allmendinger became the first multi-winner of the Xfinity Series event at Mid-Ohio since its inception in 2013. He also claimed his seventh Xfinity career victory, his fifth on a road course and the 10th career win for Kaulig Racing.
“I mean, I’m not gonna lie, I was a little upset,” Allmendinger said on FS1 when mentioning about the penalty. “But we win and lose as a team so I was gonna fight until the checkered flag flew. I knew we had the best car…This Ramco Specialties Chevrolet had some massive rear grip. I lost the restart, [Gibbs] opened up a gap and I know these guys will do it to me, so I barreled in there when I saw a gap and I was gonna come out on the other side clean. That’s all I got there.”
Haley settled in second place for his first top-five result of the season while Ty Gibbs came home in third place and notched his sixth top-five result in seven Xfinity starts this season.
“First of all, congrats to AJ,” Haley said. “That’s amazing. This is LeafFilter’s home, this is [team owner] Matt Kaulig’s home. To finish one-two here is really special. Obviously, you want the LeafFilter car to go to Victory Lane, but I thought we were a little better than AJ there at the end, but I had so much damage. I was just on the splitter so hard…Really, really special day here.”
Brandon Jones finished in fourth place followed by Andy Lally. Brandon Brown finished in sixth place followed by Annett, Josh Berry, Ryan Sieg and Josh Williams.
Hemric settled in 12th while Cindric ended his race in 14th after leading a race-high 30 laps. Riley Herbst and Paludo finished 21st and 27th following their spins on the final lap.
There were seven lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured seven cautions for 23 laps.
Cindric continues to lead the regular-season standings by 96 points over Allmendinger.
1. AJ Allmendinger, 23 laps led, Stage 1 winner
2. Justin Haley, seven laps led, Stage 2 winner
3. Ty Gibbs, 16 laps led
4. Brandon Jones
5. Andy Lally
6. Brandon Brown
7. Michael Annett
8. Josh Berry
9. Ryan Sieg, two laps led
10. Josh Williams
11. Alex Labbe
12. Daniel Hemric
13. Jade Buford
14. Austin Cindric, 30 laps led
15. Cody Ware
16. Jeb Burton
17. Gray Gaulding
18. Ryan Vargas
19. Matt Jaskol
20. Landon Cassill
21. Riley Herbst
22. Colby Howard
23. Matt Mills
24. Jesse Little
25. Preston Pardus
26. Kyle Weatherman
27. Miguel Paludo
28. Ryan Ellis
29. Myatt Snider
30. Joe Graf Jr., one lap down
31. Brett Moffitt – OUT, Fuel pump
32. Kris Wright – OUT, Accident
33. Jeremy Clements, 10 laps down
34. Jeffrey Earnhardt, 10 laps down
35. Justin Allgaier, 11 laps down
36. David Starr, 12 laps down
37. Bayley Currey – OUT, Electrical
38. Harrison Burton – OUT, Accident
39. Tommy Joe Martins – OUT, Engine
40. Noah Gragson – OUT, Accident
Next on the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is a trip to the Lone Star state for a 250-mile event at Texas Motor Speedway, which will occur on Saturday, June 12, at 4 p.m. ET on FS1.