07/10 23:19 CDT Austin Cindric completes Xfinity sweep at Kentucky Speedway
Austin Cindric completes Xfinity sweep at Kentucky Speedway
By GARY B. GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
SPARTA, Ky. (AP) --- In two nights, Austin Cindric went from the cusp of
winning on ovals to showing his ability to dominate those layouts.
As Cindric threw his hands in the air after his most impressive win, Harrison
Burton and Noah Gragson threw punches at each other in the only real battle at
Cindric dominated Friday night to sweep the NASCAR Xfinity Series doubleheader
at Kentucky. A night after racing to his first career oval victory in an
overtime finish, the Team Penske driver was even stronger in the No. 22 Ford
Mustang in the 300-mile capper.
Cindric was third in the first stage, won the second and stretched it out in
the final segment. He trailed briefly on the final restart, then sliced through
two cars out of Turn 2 and rolled to victory by 2.262 seconds over points
leader Chase Briscoe in the No. 98 Ford.
"What we did tonight was really impressive because we ran one setup last night
and won the race and came with another setup and won the race again," said
Cindric, who started 15th. "That happens at the shop, that happens with the
guys on the box. All credit to them."
Just after Cindric celebrated his victory with a burnout, Burton and Gragson
argued before throwing punches in a fight that lasted several moments before
they were separated. Burton had on a mask, while Gragson didn't.
The two collided in the final laps, with both cars brushing the wall. The
frustrations spilled over after the race, first with the drivers arguing nose
to nose before they shoved each other and started duking it out.
"This has been two times since we've come back from the COVID-19 pandemic on
restarts," said Burton, alluding to previous clashes with Gragson. "Same
situation. We rallied all night to get our Supra into fourth place and then the
No. 9 (Gragson) happens to start in third and I don't know if he forgets what
race track we're at or what, but both times puts us in the fence --- Charlotte
and now here.
"I had a lot of people come up to me and say that was a long time coming, so I
guess that was the popular move. I was just frustrated, and sorry for our team
that that happened."
Gragson was seventh, and Burton finished 12th.
NASCAR talked to both drivers but doesn't anticipate any penalties or
"We're all racing hard," Gragson said. "I really don't have a comment, haven't
seen everything that happened."
Justin Haley was third, followed by fellow Chevy drivers Ross Chastain and
Justin Allgaier, who was cleared to race earlier in the day after being taken
to a hospital following Thursday night's race for a non-racing related medical
The 21-year-old Cindric, son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric, won twice
last year on road courses at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio. On Friday night, he led
the final 43 laps and 130 of 200 overall.
"He (Cindric) was in a league of his own," Briscoe said. "It seems like Penske
has always been really good here."
Gragson again showed early strength in taking the 45-lap first stage, his third
segment win in two nights on the 1.5-mile oval. The race belonged to Cindric
after that and the question was who would finish behind him.
The final restart on lap 188 offered some hope for Briscoe before Cindric
quickly took it away by darting down the banking and between two cars and
putting it out of reach.
It was much like the night before, just sooner and more thorough.