For the first time since 2019, the NASCAR Xfinity Series took on the left and right turns of the Watkins Glen road course on Saturday, August 7th. Even though the weather posed a constant threat to the race, the drivers were able to complete all 82 laps. This came as a welcome sight to all NASCAR fans as this was the first Xfinity race since July 17th due to the Olympic break.
While the drivers hadn’t been to the Glen in two years, there was still no practice or qualifying held. This meant that the starting lineup was decided by the formula that has been used since the beginning of the 2020 season. Starting position is determined as 25% driver’s finishing position from the previous race, 25% owner’s finishing position from the previous race, 35% team owner points, and 15% fastest lap from the previous race. This put the 7 of Justin Allgaier on the pole with the 22 of Austin Cindric on his outside. Rounding out the rest of the top five were the 18 of Daniel Hemric, the 20 of Harrison Burton, and the 11 of Justin Haley.
Prior to the drop of the green flag, all 40 cars were put through pre-race inspection. In this inspection, it was discovered that the 39 of Ryan Sieg and the 78 of Jesse Little had unapproved adjustments. This sent them to the rear of the field for the start of the race.
With the truck race being called prematurely due to rain and lightning in the area, the start of the Xfinity race was delayed. While it was scheduled to begin at around 3:00 p.m., it was pushed back until 4:00 p.m. With Allgaier on the inside and Cindric on the outside, the green flag was waved. On the start, Cindric quickly took the lead from Allgaier and held it. On the next lap, the 39 of Sieg and the 52 of Dave Smith spun out, but the field stayed green. On lap four, the 6 of Michael Munley (subbing for Ryan Vargas) wrecked hard into the tire barrier, bringing out the caution.
On the restart, it was Cindric on the outside and Allgaier on the inside. Allgaier quickly lost his position to the 16 of road course veteran AJ Allmendinger. On lap 12, the competition caution came out with the 61 of Stephen Leicht as the free pass. Six cars chose to pit at the caution with all others staying out.
Cindric once again led the field to green on the restart with Allmendinger on his inside. The 99 of Kyle Tilley got some contact with the 5 of Matt Mills after some mechanical issues, and spun into the wall. The field stayed green, however. One lap later, the 26 of Kris Wright spun but was able to restart and keep the field green. On lap 17, some cars started their green flag pit stops, but most stayed out. Just four laps later, the stage ended with Cindric in the lead. Leicht was again the free pass.
Most cars pitted at the stage break with the 16 winning the race off pit road. Still under yellow, the 36 of Alex Labbe lost an axle. On the restart, the 20 of Harrison Burton led the field to green with the 19 of Brandon Jones on his inside. He quickly took the lead from Burton on the esses. On the next lap, the 54 of Ty Gibbs took the lead while the 18 of Daniel Hemric spun after contact with the 8 of Sam Mayer. On another round of green flag pits, Burton and Jones pitted with Jones getting a speeding penalty.
On lap 34, Labbe got stuck in turn one and brought out the caution. The 39 of Sieg was the free pass. A quarter of the field pitted on the caution with all others staying out. On the restart, it was Gibbs on the inside and Allmendinger on the outside. Allmendinger quickly took the lead at the esses and held off Gibbs to earn the stage two win. The 6 of Munley was the free pass.
About half the field pitted at the stage break, including the stage winner. With Gibbs on the outside and Cindric on the inside, the field went back to green. On lap 47, the 2 of Myatt Snider spun at the bus stop, but the field stayed green. The 5 of Mills got stuck two laps later, bringing out the caution. The majority of the field pitted at this caution, with the 98 of Riley Herbst being penalized for speeding and the 8 of Mayer for a crew member over the wall too soon.
On lap 52, Hemric led the field to green after staying out of the pits. On lap 53, the 23 of Austin Dillon came to pit road with an issue and was sent to the garage shortly after. Three laps later, Hemric pitted for the first time since lap 22, giving the lead back to Gibbs. On lap 59, the 51 of Jeremy Clements spun as the field stayed green. After running in the top five most of the day, the 11 of Justin Haley began to report transmission issues and fell to eighth. A few laps later, the 7 of Allgaier fell after mentioning a tire may be coming down.
On lap 66, the 26 of Wright spun after contact with the 8 of Mayer. The field stayed green yet again. Two laps later, the 31 of Erik Jones got into the wall after losing his brakes, bringing out the caution. On the restart, Gibbs led the field to green with Cindric on his inside. On lap 77, the 47 of Kyle Weatherman experienced some issues and ran out of his car which brought out the caution yet again.
The race restarted on lap 79 with Gibbs on the inside and Allmendinger on the outside. Allmendinger quickly took the lead back, but lost it again just a lap later. Gibbs held off Allmendinger for two more laps, earning his third Xfinity victory of the year and his career. Only minor issues arose in post-race tech inspections – loose lug nuts for Gibbs and Brandon Jones. The crew chief of Alex Labbe will be suspended next week for the lost axle. The next race will be on August 14th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Featured photo from @NASCAR_Xfinity on Twitter.