Xfinity Drivers Battle at MIS
Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in Michigan was nothing short of entertaining as the day was filled with wreckage and chaos. Before the race, the 1 of Michael Annett was sent to the rear because of a driver change with Josh Berry. The 22 of Austin Cindric lead the field to green with the 16 of AJ Almendinger beside him at the drop of the green flag. Cindric quickly loses the lead to the 16 after getting loose in turns 1 and 2. The competition caution came at lap 15 and the 90 of Caesar Bacarella gets the free pass. Several cars pitted on lap 17, including the 23 of Tyler Reddick, who had to pit again the next lap after missing his pit box.
AJ Almendinger leads the field to green laps later with the 11 of Justin Haley on the inside. Austin Cindric comes back to snag the lead after diving into the middle from the 6th position. The caution is brought out by the 90 car after Bacarella gets into the turn 4 wall. In the pits, the 7 of Justin Allgaier received a penalty for an uncontrolled tire and the 61 team took a hit as well for being over the wall too soon.
Cindric leads the field to green with the 2 of Myatt Snyder on the inside and Almendinger maintaining the 6th position. On lap 31, the stage ends, and Austin Cindric wins his 9th stage of the season. A majority of the lead lap cars pit and the 54 and 2 make slight contact on pit road and the 2 hits the curb hard. The 1, 5, and 6 teams all received penalties for being over the wall too soon. The 8 car ends his race in the garage after an issue with the transmission.
The 10 car leads the field to green on lap 36. Myatt Snyder comes up through the field and makes contact with the 68, who was falling back and an accident ensues on the backstretch involving several cars, including pole winner Austin Cindric. Bacarella receives the free pass again and the 2 gets a penalty for improper fueling after the gasman did more than fuel the car, violating the damaged vehicle policy.
Jeb Burton leads the field to green on lap 46. On lap 54 the 16 car regains the lead after winning a battle between the 10 and 54 cars and goes on to win stage 2. Ryan Sieg gets the free pass and the lead lap cars pit. Ty Gibbs is blocked from getting into his pit box by the 92 after entering in 2nd place. Almendinger leads the field to green again with the 10 car beside him. The 9 of Noah Gragson starts the stage 3rd and the 20 of Harrison Burton starts 4th. Several laps later, the 20 maintains his position but reports a vibration and smoke inside the car and pits on lap 73. On lap 87, the top three, the 16, 7, and 1 are right on top of each other battling for the lead. The 7 is victorious in swiping the lead from the 16 car, but on lap 88 the 1 car goes from 3rd to 1st demonstrating a beautiful pass on the 16 and the 7.
Harrison Burton is lapped by the 1 car on lap 101 after pitting on lap 73 and the 9 pits from 6th, the first of the leaders to come in for green-flag pit stops. Ty Gibbs pits, but has a long stop and an uncontrolled tire, pushing him further back into the field. On lap 107, Josh Berry pits from the lead with over 2 seconds over the 7 and 16. On lap 111, the 36 spins on pit road and ends up sideways. Shortly after, the 10 runs out of fuel and the 98 pits, cycling the lead back to Justin Allgaier in the 7. On lap 117 the caution comes out after Jeb Burton stalls on the track. Allgaier pits from the lead for tires and Harrison Burton pits with the 98, 51, and 54.
Berry takes the first position and leads the field to green with Almendinger on the inside. Allgaier lines up 3rd and the 16 briefly takes the lead before Berry takes it back after passing Almendinger on the outside. On lap 122 the 16 passes Berry again, alongside the 19 car of Brandon Jones and the caution comes out for the 99 and 74 after the 99 of Jesse Little spins and hits the 74 of Bayley Curry. On lap 128, we see the first attempt at Overtime as Almendinger leads the field to green with Berry on the inside. The 2 restarts 3rd and Brandon Jones starts 4th. The 78 stalls in turn 2, bringing out the caution after getting in the wall on the restart, giving the 61 the free pass.
The 2nd attempt at Overtime Almendinger restarts in first with Berry on the inside again. Gragson starts 3rd in the 9 car with Ty Gibbs in 4th. Ty Gibbs spins from 5th and hits the wall to bring out the yellow flag, giving the 39 the free pass. In the third and final attempt at Overtime, Almendinger maintained his lead and Gragson moved up to 2nd on the inside of Almendinger. The 98 lines up 3rd with Brandon Jones in 4th in the 19 car. Almendinger goes on to win the longest NASCAR Xfinity race ever at Michigan International Speedway. Brandon Jones finishes second with Noah Gragson behind him in third. Josh Berry earns fourth after taking over for Michael Annett and after a race full of adversity, the 20 of Harrison Burton fights to earn a top-5 position.
After this race, Austin Cindric continues to lead the playoff standings with 5 wins this season while AJ Almendinger takes 2nd with 3 wins. Allgaier holds 3rd, Daniel Hemric holds 4th, and Harrison Burton is 5th. Myatt Snider holds the 12th and final playoff position with Michael Annett 41 points behind him in 13th before the regular-season finale at Daytona.
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