Despite the NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers and teams having never driven the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course before, they put on a stellar show at the Brickyard. Coming into the weekend, though, there were a few frontrunners to keep an eye on. With a few road course aces in the field, many thought that they could predict the top three: AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, most likely in that order.
The Dinger’s Coming in Hot
Allmendinger, a NASCAR veteran and road course specialist, was on a hot streak, despite only running four races so far this season up to that point, all in the month of June. However, in those four races, he finished tenth or better in each race, won the $100,000 payout in the Dash For Cash, and won his first-ever NASCAR oval race. What could be better than heading to a road course, his bread and butter?
Despite a setback or two, AJ Allmendinger was in his element at the Brickyard. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
A Speedy Cindric’s Winless in 2020
Of course, Austin Cindric, running in his third full-time season in the XFINITY Series, wasn’t going to make it easy on the Dinger. Cindric cut his teeth mostly on road courses before entering NASCAR. This has benefited him mightily at the road courses since entering NASCAR. Of his six NASCAR wins, five of them have been at road courses. Despite six top five finishes entering Indy, Cindric hadn’t won so far in 2020.
Austin Cindric confers with veteran Mike Wallace, who made his return at Indy! (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The Hometown Kid Takes the Hardware
However, neither driver would take victory in the inaugural Indianapolis Road Course event. That honor would go to hometown kid Chase Briscoe. Mistakes by both Allmendinger and Cindric opened the door for Briscoe to lead the most laps in the event, but victory did not come easily. Helped by a late-race caution, Allmendinger and Cindric roared to the front, making it a three-car battle for victory in the waning laps of Saturday’s event. The win nearly slipped away after Briscoe overshot turn 10 with only four laps remaining, falling to third behind Allmendinger and Cindric. Cindric, who now ran second behind Allmendinger, battled the Dinger tooth and nail, allowing Briscoe to close back in. As they crossed the finish line with only two laps remaining, Briscoe took the inside of three-wide and outbraked the other two into turn one to retake the lead.
The hometown kid won! What could be better than that? (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The Titans Clash
Needless to say, Allmendinger and Cindric weren’t too happy with one another as the win slipped away. As Briscoe pulled away, the other two bounced off each other, falling to fourth and fifth respectively. While Briscoe had his dream of winning at his home track come true, the blame game was on between the other two over the radio. “AJ lost us both that race,” exclaimed Cindric, unhappy with the part-time driver’s defensive moves in the closing laps. “Ain’t a whole lot you can do when you’re up off the ground on the last corner with the longest straightaway on the damn racetrack,” mused Brett Griffin, spotter for Allmendinger.
For Briscoe, though, there was no conflict, only glory, as he captured his second consecutive win, and his third in his last four starts. Unsurprisingly Briscoe leads the series in points and wins, with five victories. Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton are the only others with multiple wins, each with two.
As the season rolls on, Briscoe looks to continue his momentum while his competitors fight just to stay in the same zip code. Next up, the NASCAR XFINITY Series heads to Kentucky Speedway for a Thursday-Friday doubleheader on July 9th and 10th. The races can both be viewed on Fox Sports 1 at 7:30 pm and 8 pm eastern time respectively.