AJ Allmendinger wins big at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Food City 300 with the NASCAR Xfinity Series 2021 Championship on Friday night.
BRISTOL, Tenn. – With cars bouncing off each other like pinballs through two laps of overtime, AJ Allmendinger took his No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet three-wide to the bottom, passed Justin Allgaier and Austin Cindric on the final lap, and won Friday night’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
AJ Allmendinger Wins Big at Bristol
The victory gave Allmendinger the NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship by ten points over Cindric, who held the race lead when the tenth and final caution flag flew on lap 297 of 300 after Allgaier turned JR Motorsports teammate Sam Mayer in the first turn.
In the overtime, the race got crazy. Cindric and Allgaier picked the top lane, and Allmendinger chose the inside of the front row. On the white-flag lap, Allmendinger drove hard into the third and fourth turns and slid up into Cindric’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
Allmendinger fell back to third, but contact between Allgaier’s Camaro and Cindric’s Mustang gave Allmendinger a chance to slip beneath both cars into the lead.
But the race wasn’t over. On the final lap, Cindric charged off the final corner, slammed into Allmendinger, and both cars slid sideways across the finish line, with Allmendinger the winner by 0.082 seconds.
After taking the checkered flag, Allmendinger careened off the inside wall, slid across the track into traffic, and took a huge hit from Kaulig Racing teammate Justin Haley.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular-Season Champ
But the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship was his.
“I expected to get run into,” Allmendinger said. “It happened that previous corner. It’s frustrating getting hit that hard coming to checker, but we’re battling for the win. It’s Bristol, baby. That’s what it’s all about.
“I haven’t had a lot of chances to get a win at Bristol, so you know what? When you have a chance to do it, you’ve got to go do it. If I don’t take that chance, I don’t belong in a race car, because my team deserves the win.”
Under the circumstances, Cindric exhibited remarkable restraint in his post-race interview.
“I thought we had a great battle all season long up to this point, so congratulations to Kaulig and AJ,” said Cindric, who led 75 laps, third-most behind Allgaier’s 92 and Daniel Hemric’s 78. “Those guys didn’t want us to win really bad, and I hate that it completely destroyed our Ford Mustang.
“That’s all I’ve got, man… It looks like the 7 (Allgaier) just got loose there (in spinning Mayer), and AJ obviously just drove straight through us. You’ll have that in green-white-checkered racing.”
The victory was Allmendinger’s first at Bristol, his fourth of the season, and the ninth of his career. The final lap of overtime was the only lap he led, as the race went six laps past its scheduled distance of 300 circuits.
The Round of 12 Playoff Drivers and What’s Next
The regular-season cutoff race also set the final positions for the Round of 12 in the Xfinity Series Playoff. With no new winner, Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst, and Jeremy Clements clinched the final three spots on points, as expected, as the series heads for the Playoff opener Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Herbst finished third behind the wrecking cars of Allmendinger and Cindric. Allgaier fell to fourth on the final lap, with Jones and Haley running fifth and sixth. Harrison Burton, Myatt Snider, Mayer, and Hemric completed the top-ten finishers
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 40th Annual Food City 300
Bristol Motor Speedway
Friday, September 17, 2021
1. (10) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 306.
2. (9) Austin Cindric, Ford, 306.
3. (8) Riley Herbst, Ford, 306.
4. (2) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 306.
5. (16) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 306.
6. (5) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 306.
7. (6) Harrison Burton, Toyota, 306.
8. (17) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 306.
9. (22) Sam Mayer #, Chevrolet, 306.
10. (4) Daniel Hemric, Toyota, 306.
11. (3) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 306.
12. (1) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 306.
13. (13) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 306.
14. (11) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 306.
15. (31) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 305.
16. (32) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 305.
17. (36) Joe Graf Jr., Chevrolet, 305.
18. (39) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 305.
19. (14) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 305.
20. (18) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 305.
21. (21) Brandon Gdovic, Toyota, 305.
22. (27) Stefan Parsons, Toyota, 304.
23. (23) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 304.
24. (7) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 303.
25. (29) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 303.
26. (37) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 303.
27. (30) Jade Buford #, Chevrolet, 302.
28. (25) Jesse Little, Chevrolet, 302.
29. (19) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 301.
30. (24) David Starr, Toyota, 300.
31. (33) Spencer Boyd(i), Chevrolet, 298.
32. (34) Carson Ware, Chevrolet, 297.
33. (38) Chad Finchum, Toyota, 282.
34. (12) Ryan Sieg, Ford, Fuel Pump, 259.
35. (15) Josh Berry #, Chevrolet, 215.
36. (26) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, Accident, 108.
37. (28) Ryan Vargas #, Chevrolet, Brakes, 94.
38. (40) Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 53.
39. (35) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Electrical, 40.
40. (20) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, Accident, 9.
The Food City 300 Stats
Average Speed of Race Winner: 75.026 mph.
Time of Race: Two Hrs, Ten Mins, 26 Secs. The Margin of Victory: 0.082 Seconds.
Caution Flags: Ten for 72 laps.
Lead Changes: 11 among seven drivers.
Lap Leaders: N. Gragson 1-4;D. Hemric 5-35;J. Allgaier 36-108;D. Hemric 109-135;J. Allgaier 136-153;D. Hemric 154-173;J. Burton 174-180;S. Mayer # 181-229;A. Cindric 230-241;J. Allgaier 242;A. Cindric 243-305;A. Allmendinger 306.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Justin Allgaier three times for 92 laps; Daniel Hemric three times for 78 laps; Austin Cindric two times for 75 laps; Sam Mayer # one time for 49 laps; Jeb Burton one time for seven laps; Noah Gragson one time for four laps; AJ Allmendinger one time for one lap.
Stage 1 Top-Ten: 7,18,9,11,8,16,22,19,54,20
Stage 2 Top-Ten: 18,7,9,11,22,16,54,19,39,10