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Cindric holds on for dominating Phoenix win

Austin Cindric at Phoenix. Credits: NASCAR, Getty Images.

Austin Cindric holds off his opponents at the final restart to win back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Phoenix Raceway.

Daniel Hemric started on pole in the race but Austin Cindric wasted no time getting the inside of Hemric and taking the leading lap one. He quickly pulled away and had over a second lead seven laps later. The 20 lap run to the competition caution was near uneventful besides problems for two BJ McLeod Motorsports cars of Matt Mills and Jesse Little. Cindric led the restart and held onto the lead over the three Joe Gibbs Racing machines. The white and pink no.22 car led the final 13 laps and won stage one while Jesse Little lost his brakes and spun into the turn two wall. His heavy rear damage ended his day early. 

Daniel Hemric and his no.18 crew won the race off pit crew while the leader coming in, Austin Cindric lost five. Hemric fought hard to keep the lead from his teammate Harrison Burton for the opening lap of stage two before the caution came out when Dexter Bean spun in turn four. The restart would be another wild one where Noah Gragson started losing fluid. After laps of smoking and dropping fluid, the back of the car went aflame. He got the car stopped and pointed in front of the garage. Hemric got the jump on the restart and continued his dominance by leading the final 15 laps to a stage two win.

Before pit stops began, Michael Annett went behind the wall due to a mechanical issue, the second one of a JR Motorsports car in this race. Justin Allgaier won the race off pit road for the first time while Harrison Burton slid too far through his pit stall fell from second to 18th. 

Justin Allgaier fired off on the restart and led the first 24 laps of the final stage before a caution for Tommy Joe Martins whose no.44 scrapped the wall in turn three. Ryan Sieg rolled the dice and took no tires on the restart while Cindric held off JRM teammates Allgaier and Berry behind for second off pit road. Sieg’s Ford led the restart but quickly lost the lead to Austin Cindric and hit the wall in turn four. Later, Harrison Burton blew a right rear tire and spun in two just as Cindric started pulling away. 

Cindric retook the lead on the restart with 47 to go and battled Justin Allgaier for the lead for the next 15 laps before a caution came out for a damaged Brandon Jones. AJ Allmendinger was exiting turn four and missed judged where he was on Brandon Jones, he hit his quarter panel and sent him spinning into the backstretch wall. Jones’ day was done. 

With 63 laps to go in the 200-lap event, Cindric extended his laps led on the day while the eighth caution of the race came out when Brett Moffitt cut across Jeremy Clements’ nose in the dogleg. Moffitt spun but received no damage. With 56 to go the race restarted with the 22 leading but Brandon Jones got a run-off two and passed Cindric for the lead with the 55 to go. Two laps later and Josh Berry, who was recovering from a loose tire laps before, blew a left rear tire and spun out hitting the wall hard, in turn, three. His day was done making three JR Motorsports cars in the garage. 

On the restart with 29 to go, Cindric got a big launch and gapped Allgaier by half a second. Over the next 10 laps, the deficit would stay consistent between the top two as the Team Penske Ford continued his dominance until just nine to go. Canadian driver Alex Labbe got tagged and hit the wall in turn one.

The race would end with a two-lap shootout mainly between the no.22 and no.7 car drivers. Allgaier got to the outside of Cindric but popped the wall off of four coming to the white. Behind were Haley and Hemric popping the wall. Cindric took the white flag and held off a late dive bomb by the young Ty Gibbs to take his second win of 2021.

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