While Austin Cindric had nine top-10 finishes on the season coming into Thursday’s Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway, the 21-year-old had yet to collect that elusive victory.
The narrative would quickly lose all steam as Cindric would come out victorious in overtime Thursday evening.
The win locks Cindric into the playoffs and is his third career victory in the Xfinity Series. It is also his first win on an oval (the other two wins came on road courses at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio last season).
Through turn one on the first lap, the caution flag would wave for the first of nine times, as Jeb Burton would spin out of turn two and collect Brandon Jones in the process. It would be the second time out of three races where Jones would not complete a lap.
Noah Gragson, who started on the pole, would lead through the competition caution and would maintain the top position until Cindric would take the lead for a fraction of a second with seven to go in stage one. However, the 21-year-old would get loose and quickly give the lead back to Gragson.
Gragson would pick up his sixth stage win on the year and would win the race off pit road to maintain the lead at the start of stage two. Despite having vibration issues through the latter half of the stage, Gragson would prevail and pick up his second stage win of the evening and seventh of the season.
Gragson would again come out of the pits in first and would use clean air to his advantage. While Cindric would continue to get up close and personal with Gragson’s bumper, the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske would not be able to cash in and take the lead as lap traffic squandered a clearance opportunity.
A Brandon Brown spin on turn four would bring out the caution on lap 88. While Gragson and Cindric would remain in the top 10 coming out of pit road, Justin Haley and Jeremy Clements would only take two tires come out in front. However, the speed and aggressive maneuvering of Cindric would eventually pay off, as he would take the lead on lap 95. However, contact between Brett Moffitt and Ross Chastain would bring out the caution with 32 laps to go.
Haley would come out ahead on the restart with 27 to go, but Cindric would use speed and timely drafting to retake the lead on the same lap.
Despite pushing to a two-plus second lead, the field would yet again be packed together as Colby Howard would slam into the wall after contact with Anthony Alfredo on lap 119. However, Cindric would again use the PJ1 Traction Compound to his advantage, as he would hold the outside lane to get a run by Briscoe to vault back into first with nine to go. Harrison Burton would spin on turn three and would send the race into overtime.
While a caution involving Justin Allgaier and Ronnie Bassett Jr would occur on the final lap, Cindric would win under caution.
Riley Herbst picked up his second top-five finish on the year with his second-place finish. The top-five finish is the second of his Xfinity career (he finished second Feb. 23 at Fontana).
Chastain extended his top-10 finish streak to seven races with his third-place run. Briscoe, meanwhile, would finish fourth. The finish for Briscoe is his seventh top-10 finish in his past eight races.
Michael Annett would round out the top five. His fifth-place finish is his second top-five finish on the year (June 28 at Pocono).
Kyle Weatherman scored Mike Harmon Racing their first ever top-10 finish after an eighth-place run.
The lineup for the second Xfinity race will be inverted from the first through 15th-place finishers. Coverage for the race will begin Friday at 8:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and the Performance Racing Network.