Austin Cindric pours it on, secures Xfinity victory at Daytona Road Course

Sports

Air Force One, carrying President Donald Trump, makes a pass over Daytona International Speedway before the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Austin Cindric became a quick study in the first NASCAR national-series race on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, continuing his recent hot streak for his fifth Xfinity Series victory of the season.

Cindric led 21 of the 52 laps in Saturday’s UNOH 188, securing the seventh victory of his Xfinity career. His No. 22 Team Penske was 7.108 seconds ahead of runner-up Brandon Jones at the checkered flag. It marked his fifth win in the last six Xfinity Series races — matching a mark set by Sam Ard in 1983.

Noah Gragson placed third with AJ Allmendinger fourth and Andy Lally completing the top five.

Cindric led the opening 15 laps from the pole position to take Stage 1. Chase Briscoe prevailed in Stage 2, taking command on Lap 18 when Gragson spun from the lead in Turn 5 and then holding off Cindric in a frenzied final-lap battle. Cindric took exception to perceived blocking by Briscoe, tossing a water bottle at his rival’s car during the stage intermission.

The race provided a preview for Sunday’s doubleheader of Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and Cup Series events, with the Xfinity field encountering trouble spots multiple times in the two chicanes. Turn 1 also proved difficult in late-race restarts, with the field stacking up in a Lap 46 tangle that ended Briscoe’s day and knocked road-racing ace Preston Pardus from the picture.

Briscoe led a race-high 26 laps, but wound up 29th in the final rundown, retiring six laps short of the end.

The race was delayed by one hour, 50 minutes by lightning strikes just before pre-race ceremonies. When the race did start at 5:09 p.m. ET, NASCAR officials deemed the track damp, giving teams the option to add rain tires after the late-afternoon showers.

The Xfinity Series is set for a pair of races next weekend at Dover International Speedway, Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET. Both races are scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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