Austin Cindric survives war of attrition in Xfinity Daytona opener

The 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season begun with the opener at Daytona International Speedway. Despite qualifying being rained out, the race was a full go as it started on time. It was a caution-filled race with Austin Cindric winning in overtime to begin the new season.

Cindric was pushed by Riley Herbst at the start of the race and Justin Allgaier was pushed by Justin Haley, forming the two lines to begin the race. While these lines were battling, Alex Labbe spun out, bringing out the caution flag. Noah Gragson came down pit road during the caution for adjustments. Another caution saw A.J. Allmendinger and Michael Annett pit to get an advantage later in the race.

Halfway through the first stage, Herbst passed Cindric for the lead as a dominant single line formed before Josh Williams brought out a second caution. This remained the case through the restart as Herbst led over Cindric on the restart. Brett Moffitt and Ty Dillon worked their way into the top five as the stage came to a close. Brandon Jones, who hung around the top five for most of the stage, beat Herbst in a photo finish to win the first stage.

To begin stage 2, Ryan Sieg and Brandon Brown started out on top as they pitted before the stage break. Haley pushed his way toward the front of the pack, but Sieg led the single-file train as stage two approached its halfway point. With three laps to go in stage 2, Moffitt took the lead as he formed the inside line followed by Dillon. The second stage ended in chaos as Jones took a hard crash as he spun and crashed into the wall. The crash, that also involved Cody Ware and Labbe, brought out a red flag for fluid as Moffitt won the stage.

After the red flag, Sieg’s car suffered issues that forced a lengthy pit stop, pushing him back to 36th place. Dillon and Cindric only took two tires during the caution, leading them to start the final stage in the lead.

To start the final stage, Cindric and Dillon led the two lines but were closely followed by Gragson and Allgaier. As green-flag pit stops started to commence, there was a big wreck involving Gragson, Annett and many others with those two’s evenings coming to an end.

After the pit stops, Haley and Harrison Burton started on the front row with 37 laps to go in the race. With 30 laps left, Burton led a single-file train. Burton and Daniel Hemric led the lines with 17 laps to go after a caution flag.

With 15 laps to go, Dillon tried to pass Hemric to lead the front line, then made contact with Hemric that caused Dillon to turn, causing him to spin and take out other drivers such as Allgaier, Haley, Josh Berry and Herbst.

On the restart, Cindric and Burton led the two lines. With six laps to go, Landon Cassill crashed, bringing out another caution to force an overtime restart.

In overtime, Cindric held off a huge push from Moffitt and Burton to pick up the season-opening win and his first career win at Daytona in the Xfinity Series. This is also Team Penske’s first win at the Daytona oval in the Xfinity Series. Moffitt, Harrison and Jeb Burton finished second through fourth behind Cindric as they could not push their way past him. This was Moffitt’s second career top-five finish in the Xfinity Series. Allmendinger finished fifth and Brown finished sixth.

Myatt Snider finished seventh and Brandon Gdovic finished to eighth to pick up his first career top-10 finish. Despite damage to his car, Hemric finished ninth and Jason White finished 10th, achieving a top-10 finish in his first ever Xfinity Series start. Joe Graf Jr. finished 11th, his best career finish in the Xfinity Series.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will return next Saturday for the Super Start Batteries 188 at the Daytona Road Course.

Race results:

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