The 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series came to a close Saturday evening at Phoenix Raceway. After a season full of schedule changes and doubleheaders, Austin Cindric came out on top as the champion as he held off Justin Allgaier in an overtime restart to pick up the victory.
Justin Allgaier started on the pole and took the lead at the start of the race. Cindric and Chase Briscoe were battling for second and third place when the caution came out after Jeffrey Earnhardt crashed. Briscoe took the lead on the restart over Cindric and Allgaier. Briscoe and Cindric engaged in a battle for the lead. Despite making contact with the wall, Briscoe held off Cindric to lead heading into the competition caution.
Briscoe took the lead after the competition caution over Allgaier and Cindric and would do so again after another caution toward the back of the pack. Cindric passed Allgaier for second place with five laps left in stage one. Cindric fought for the stage one win but narrowly lost to Briscoe. Briscoe picked up his 13th stage win of the season. Allgaier finished third and Justin Haley finished seventh.
Allgaier won the race off pit road, followed by Noah Gragson, Briscoe and Cindric. On the restart, he won the battle over Briscoe to begin stage two. Gragson was fighting for track position despite not being in the Championship 4 as he battled for third with Briscoe. Cindric was chasing down Allgaier and they battled for the lead midway through stage two with Allgaier maintaining his position when the caution came out with 15 laps left in the stage.
Allgaier led on the restart but Cindric passed him with seven laps to go in stage two. Cindric won stage two, his 11th of the season. Allgaier and Briscoe finished second and third, while Haley finished seventh. Brandon Jones, who won the previous race at Phoenix back in March, won the race off pit road, followed by Briscoe, Cindric and Allgaier.
Allgaier had a strong restart as he took the lead from the fourth position. Cindric passed Briscoe a few laps later for third, behind Allgaier and Jones. Once again, Cindric ran back into second place and attempted to chase down Allgaier once again. With 70 laps to go, Cindric took the lead over Allgaier. Allgaier slid to fourth as he continued to suffer on the long runs.
Allgaier came to pit road with 40 laps to go and Haley came one lap later. The leaders came to pit road one lap later. With 31 laps left, a caution came out, forcing the drivers to make critical pit decisions. Allgaier came to pit road to get fresh tires while Cindric stayed out. Briscoe came in for an adjustment but took no tires or fuel.
Cindric restarted in the lead over Allgaier but the two continued to battle as the final stage wound down. As Cindric was pulling away from Allgaier with six laps to go, Briscoe spun, bringing out the caution and ending his championship hopes. Cindric and Haley went to pit road. Cindric took fresh tires while Allgaier had to run out on older tires as he took his last set of tires on the second-to-last caution.
On the overtime restart, Cindric worked his way in front of Allgaier on the final lap to win the 2020 Xfinity Series championship. It is his first championship in the three major NASCAR series and he will add this to his resume as he will be promoted to the No. 21 car in the Cup Series in 2022.
This is the second Xfinity Series championship Team Penske has won, the other being Brad Keselowski in 2010. Harrison Burton finished sixth in this race, clinching the 2020 Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
Championship 4 results:
Austin Cindric: 1st
Justin Allgaier: 5th
Justin Haley: 8th
Chase Briscoe: 9th
The 2021 Xfinity Series season will begin Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway.