A.J. Allmendinger capitalizes on penalties to win Xfinity Atlanta race

Photo by Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

After costly penalties among racing leaders with less than 35 to go, A.J. Allmendinger capitalized and came out victorious at Atlanta Motor Speedway Saturday evening. 

The win gave Allmendinger his first win in the Xfinity Series since September 28, 2019 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Roval). The win also gave Allmendinger the fourth of his career in the series.

Drivers within the top 10 quickly made moves through the first 10 laps of the race. Austin Cindric, who started the race in eighth, quickly moved into the top three and passed Noah Gragson on the outside to take the lead on lap six. Meanwhile, Ryan Sieg, who started the race in seventh, scraped the wall and was forced to the pits, where smoke began to heavily billow out of the No. 39 Chevrolet. Sieg would finish 35th

Justin Haley briefly took the lead after Cindric went to pit road at the onset of the competition caution, which took place after Tommy Joe Martins spun out on lap 16. Cindric would quickly reclaim the lead from Haley with 14 to go in stage one. Cindric would then gradually build his lead to over nine seconds before the conclusion of stage one. The stage win marked Cindric’s first on the year.

Cindric would again show dominant speed over the field at the start of stage two. The 21-year-old quickly created distance and capitalized on the short runs to vault out to a three-plus second lead. The dominance would continue until Riley Herbst spun out with 11 to go in the stage. While Chase Briscoe and Ross Chastain attempted to keep up with Cindric on the restart, Cindric would again maintain distance to win the stage and collect his second stage win on the year. 

Briscoe would win the race off pit road, restart in first at the beginning of the final stage and began pulling away reminiscent of what Cindric did through the first two stages. Briscoe would continue to cushion his lead over Cindric before Josh Williams spun out with 65 to go.

Once there was separation after the restart on lap 103, Briscoe quickly pushed to a second-plus lead over Cindric. With Vinnie Miller spinning with less than 40 to go, all drivers would go to the pits. However, Briscoe, Cindric and Allgaier would all be forced to the rear after speeding on pit road. As a result, A.J. Allmendinger would become the new leader at the wave of the green flag on lap 130. Allmendinger would then create distance over Gragson. Despite Gragson close to within a half-second with less than 10 to go, Allmendinger would maintain the lead and pull out the win. 

Gragson, who finished second, won the first of four races in the Dash 4 Cash series. The highest finish among the four qualified drivers netted the 21-year-old $100,000. The remaining Dash 4 Cash drivers in Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones and Briscoe would finish fifth, eighth and ninth, respectively. With the finish, Burton has finished in the top 10 in every race this season.

Allgaier, who turned 34 today, finished the race in sixth. The top 10 finish is Allgaier’s fourth on the year and the third out of his past four races.

Cindric would finish 16th. The finish is Cindric’s second consecutive finish outside the top 10 and his first finish outside the top 10 at Atlanta in the Xfinity Series.

The Xfinity Series continues onward with two races at Homestead Miami Speedway next weekend. Coverage for Saturday’s race will be on FOX, while coverage for Sunday’s race will be on FOX Sports 1. 

Race results: https://www.jayski.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/06/06/2020-08nxs-results.pdf

Driver points: https://www.jayski.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/06/06/2020-08nxs-points.pdf

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