Scoring the biggest victory of his racing career, Austin Cindric took the lead at the start of the final stage and went on to beat AJ Allmendinger to win the second annual Pennzoil 150 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course on Saturday, August 14. The victory was Cindric’s fifth of this year’s Xfinity Series season and it served as a double victory sweep of the day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for team owner Roger Penske and Team Penske after Will Power won the IndyCar event earlier.
Qualifying occurred on Saturday, August 14, and AJ Allmendinger claimed the top-starting spot with a pole-winning speed at 97.744 mph. Joining on the front row was Austin Cindric, the regular-season points leader.
Prior to the event, a number of competitors, including Landon Cassill, Kyle Weatherman, rookie Sam Mayer and Austin Dillon dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments to their respective machines. Ryan Sieg and JJ Yeley also dropped to the rear of the field due to both missing driver introductions.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Allmendinger jumped ahead with an early advantage over Austin Cindric. His race, however, got off to a rocky start when he overshot the first turn, which allowed Justin Haley to move into the lead while Allmendinger fell back to third behind Cindric.
While the field battled through the long straightaway in Turns 5 and 6, a series of carnages ensued behind as Harrison Burton, teammate Brandon Jones, Kevin Harvick, Alex Labbe, Josh Bilicki, Brandon Brown and Preston Pardus all wrecked after getting into the orange turtle bumps in Turn 6. Ahead of the carnage, Allmendinger slipped off the track in Turn 12, which dropped him from the top five to the top 10.
Shortly after, the first caution of the event flew due to Preston Pardus stalling in Turn 7 after being involved in the early multi-car carnage. At the time of caution, Haley was still leading as he led the first lap followed by Austin Cindric, rookie Ty Gibbs, Justin Allgaier and teammate Noah Gragson.
When the race restarted on the fourth lap, Haley and Cindric battled dead even for the lead until Haley cleared Cindric for the lead entering the first two turns. Behind, Justin Allgaier made his way into third place followed by Gibbs, Riley Herbst and Gragson as the field stacked up entering Turn 7.
By the fifth lap, Haley was leading by nearly seven-tenths of a second over Cindric, with Allgaier, Gibbs and Herbst in the top five. Myatt Snider moved up to sixth followed by Gragson, Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric and Will Rodgers. By then, Sage Karam, a part-time IndyCar Series competitor who was making his NASCAR debut in Jordan Anderson Racing’s No. 31 Chevrolet, was in 11th while Jeb Burton was in 16th.
At the Lap 10 mark, Haley continued to lead by nearly a second over Cindric while Gibbs, Allgaier and Herbst retained their spots in the top five. Allmendinger, meanwhile, moved up to sixth followed by Gragson, Snider, Hemric and Karam. Behind, Chase Elliott, who filled in the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in place of Michael Annett, was up in 15th behind Andy Lally while Harrison Burton was mired back in 30th.
A lap later, Ryan Sieg fell to the rear of the field following a pair of on-track spins.
On Lap 14, Cindric, who gained a draft through the frontstretch, made his move to the inside of Haley to take the lead in Turn 1. Despite being pressured by Haley, Cindric managed to maintain the lead through Turns 4 through 7. Behind, Rodgers spun while running near the top 10, but the race continued to run under green.
A lap later, however, the caution flew due to debris on the frontstretch that came off of Sieg’s No. 39 Ford Mustang, which also had a flat left-rear tire. Under caution, a majority of the field led by Cindric pitted while the rest led by Herbst remained on the track.
With two laps remaining in the first stage, the field restarted under green. At the start, Herbst jumped ahead of Karam and the field to lead for one full lap through the 14-turn circuit. The following lap, Haley made his way up to second place and went to work on Herbst for the lead. By Turn 12, Haley reassumed the lead.
After reclaiming the lead, Haley went on to claim the first stage victory on Lap 20, which marked his fourth stage victory of the season. Herbst settled in second followed by Jeb Burton, Cindric, Karam, Gragson, Jeremy Clements, Tommy Joe Martins, Elliott and Gibbs.
Under the stage break, few led by Herbst pitted while the rest led by Haley remained on the track.
The second stage started on Lap 23. At the start, Cindric and Gragson put Haley in a three-wide situation entering the first turn before Cindric emerged with the top spot through the first two turns. Through Turns 5 and 6, contact from teammate Hemric sent Gibbs spinning. At the same time, Kris Wright caught major air after running over the curbs. Then afterwards, Chase Elliott spun in Turn 7. Despite the trio of on-track incidents, the race continued under green.
Two laps later, Cindric was leading by more than a second over Gragson while Haley, Allgaier and Clements were in the top five. By then, Gibbs pitted under green. Not long after, Hemric also pitted to address a flat tire following contact with Gibbs.
On Lap 29, the caution flew due to Austin Hill stalling on the track. Under caution, some like Herbst, Kyle Weatherman, James Davison, Harrison Burton and Hemric pitted while the rest led by Cindric remained on the track.
With eight laps remaining in the second stage, the race restarted. At the start, Gragson emerged with the lead through the first turn while Allmendinger moved up to second over Cindric. By Turn 7, however, Allmendinger carved his way back into the lead. Five turns later, teammate Haley moved up to second as Gragson and Cindric fell back to third and fourth.
When the field returned to the start/finish line, Allmendinger, who lost the lead following the first turn on the opening lap, was leading by nearly half a second over teammate Haley followed by Gragson, Cindric and Sam Mayer. Behind, Austin Dillon spun in Turn 1, but the race continued under green.
Another two laps later, Allmendinger continued to lead by seven-tenths of a second over teammate Haley, with Gragson, Cindric and Mayer were in the top five.
Two laps later, names like Cindric, Snider, Rodgers, Mayer, Elliott, Spencer Pumpelly, Karam and Austin Dillon pitted under green. During the process, Mayer, who was exiting pit road, drew the caution when fire came out of his No. 24 Toyota Supra, which eliminated him from contention near the pit road exit. During the caution, Allgaier, who was trying to pit prior to pit road closing, was ruled to have pitted too soon after he failed to enter pit road prior to its closure.
The on-track mechanical issue for Rodgers was enough to have the second stage scheduled on Lap 40 conclude under caution as Allmendinger, the race leader, claimed his seventh stage victory of the season. Teammate Haley settled in second followed by Gragson, Gibbs, Andy Lally, Jeb Burton, Hemric, Clements, Herbst and Josh Williams.
Under the stage break, some led by Allmendinger pitted while the rest led by Gibbs remained on the track. Prior to the restart, Allgaier was sent to the rear of the field following his pit road misfortune for pitting while the pits were closed.
With 19 laps remaining, the final stage commenced. At the start, Gibbs launched ahead and led the field through the first pair of turns while Cindric moved up to second ahead of Harrison Burton and the field.
A lap later, Cindric passed Gibbs entering the fourth turn to take the lead. Behind, Mayer, who was having a strong run in the making, spun and hit the tire barriers in Turn 6 following contact with teammate Elliott. Despite the incident, the race continued to run under green as Mayer pulled the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro out of the racing course.
Back on the track, Cindric was leading by more than a second over Myatt Snider while Allmendinger moved up to third ahead of Elliott and Gibbs. Behind, Austin Dillon was up in sixth followed by Haley, Harrison Burton, Gragson and Spencer Pumpelly.
Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Cindric was leading by more than four seconds over Allmendinger while Elliott, Haley and Snider were in the top five. Gibbs was in sixth followed by Austin Dillon, Gragson, Herbst and Harrison Burton. Behind, Spencer Pumpelly spun in Turn 1 while competing in the top 15, but the race continued under green.
With five laps remaining, Cindric remained as the leader by more than three seconds over Allmendinger while Elliott, Haley and Snider continued to run in the top five. Meanwhile, Gibbs, who was running in the top five but was told was three laps short on fuel, pitted under green.
Down to the final two laps, Cindric stabilized his advantage to more than three seconds over Allmendinger while Haley moved up to third ahead of Elliott. Meanwhile, Gragson was in fifth ahead of Austin Dillon, Snider, Herbst, Harrison Burton and Andy Lally.
When the final lap of the event started, Cindric was leading by less than three seconds over Allmendinger. Behind, Haley and Elliott were more than nine and 10 seconds behind.
Through the 14-turn road course, Cindric was able to have enough horsepower and muscle to race back to the frontstretch and cross the finish line with the victory by more than two seconds over Allmendinger.
In addition to claiming his first victory at Indianapolis and the fifth of this year’s Xfinity season, Cindric notched his 13th career win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and his fifth on a road course event as he continues his pursuit to a second consecutive Xfinity title before moving up to the Cup Series in 2022.
“Unbelievable,” Cindric said on NBCSN. “First of all, I gotta thank [team owner] Roger Penske for every opportunity I’ve had in my career, every opportunity he’s given you race fans to enjoy this beautiful weekend with three race series. How awesome is this facility now, guys?! It’s amazing! I’m so proud to be a part of this Penske family. Obviously, this race track is so much deeper than just that. My family history. What this place means to me, I can’t even put into words what it means to win at Indianapolis.”
Behind, Allmendinger came home in second place while teammate Haley finished in third place.
“Kaulig Racing needed a better driver today, quite honestly,” Allmendinger said. “I messed up way too much early, got us off track today. It’s tough, sometimes, with these road courses and the Xfinity Series with the way these stages lined up…We had a really fast Hyperice Chevy. I was awful today.”
“I’m really proud of the third place [result],” Haley said. “I think me and AJ had the best cars today. Everyone on this LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet team did a great job. Proud of Kaulig Racing for second and third…This is my third trip at Indy, my hometown, and my third top five [result], so I’m pretty proud of that that we could come and run pretty good in our hometown.”
Elliott, who reportedly did not have enough fuel to finish, crossed the finish line in fourth while teammate Gragson completed the top five.
Austin Dillon, Snider, Herbst, Harrison Burton and Andy Lally finished in the top 10.
There were eight lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured five cautions for 15 laps.
With his victory, Austin Cindric continues to lead the regular-season standings by 82 points over AJ Allmendinger.
1. Austin Cindric, 29 laps led
2. AJ Allmendinger, eight laps led, Stage 2 winner
3. Justin Haley, 18 laps led, Stage 1 winner
4. Chase Elliott
5. Noah Gragson
6. Austin Dillon
7. Myatt Snider
8. Riley Herbst, three laps led
9. Harrison Burton
10. Andy Lally
11. Justin Allgaier
12. Daniel Hemric
13. Alex Labbe
14. Jeremy Clements
15. Josh Williams
16. Kyle Weatherman
17. Landon Cassill
18. James Davison
19. Ty Gibbs, four laps led
20. Jade Buford
21. Tommy Joe Martins
22. JJ Yeley
23. Jeb Burton
24. Spencer Pumpelly – OUT, Ignition
25. Josh Bilicki, two laps down
26. Sage Karam – OUT, Electrical
27. Sam Mayer – OUT, Accident
28. Will Rodgers – OUT, Brakes
29. Austin Hill – OUT, Steering box
30. Kris Wright – OUT, Accident
31. Brett Moffitt – OUT, Axle
32. Ryan Sieg – OUT, Suspension
33. Kevin Harvick – OUT, Power steering
34. Brandon Brown – OUT, Accident
35. Preston Pardus – OUT, Accident
36. Brandon Jones – OUT, Accident
Next on the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the series’ return to Michigan International Speedway following a one-year absence. The event will occur on Saturday, August 21, at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.