The NASCAR Xfinity Series took on Michigan International Speedway on Saturday in another tight battle for the championship. With wrecks, spins, and penalties throughout, it made for an intense race from lap one to lap 139.
Since this track was familiar to most of the drivers in the field, there was no practice or qualifying to determine the starting lineup. The lineup was determined by the same mathematical formula that has been used throughout the 2020 and 2021 seasons. A driver’s 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’s points, and 15% fastest lap from the previous race. This math put the 22 of Austin Cindric on the pole with the 16 of AJ Allmendinger on his outside. The rest of the top five included the 11 of Justin Haley, the 9 of Noah Gragson, and the 7 of Justin Allgaier.
Ahead of the race start, the field was put through pre-race inspection. All 40 cars made it through without issue meaning no one was sent to the rear for mechanical issues. The only driver that started the race from behind was the 1 of Josh Berry who was a last minute replacement for Michael Annett. Annett is still recovering from leg surgery.
The green flag flew at 3:51 p.m. with Cindric on the inside and Allmendinger on the outside. Allmendinger proved early that the outside line would be the way to go as he got a huge jump on Cindric who immediately fell after getting loose in turns one and two. After moving up to second place early, the 11 of Justin Haley fell back to third on lap five after getting loose and going up the track. Since there was no practice this weekend, there was a competition caution on lap 16 which gave the 90 of Caesar Bacarella a lap back as the free pass.
11 drivers pitted at the caution with the 23 of cup regular Tyler Reddick pitting twice after missing his box the first time through. The race restarted on lap 21 with Allmendinger on the outside and Haley on the inside. Cindric quickly took the lead after splitting the two leaders, and Haley lost momentum yet again on the bottom line. Two laps later, the yellow flag was waved after Bacarella got into the wall on turn four. Six cars pitted at this caution with the 7 of Allgaier and the 61 of Bubba Wallace serving penalties for an uncontrolled tire and a crew member over the wall too soon, respectively.
With Cindric on the outside and the 2 of Myatt Snider on the inside, the race restarted on lap 27. Just four laps later, Cindric earned his ninth stage win of the year. Most of the lead lap cars pitted at the stage break, with the 54 of Ty Gibbs making slight contact with Snider near the exit. The 1 of Berry was penalized and sent to the rear again for a crew member over the wall too soon. During the caution, the 8 of Sam Mayer was sent to the garage for transmission issues but would come back out later in the race.
For the restart, it was the 10 of Jeb Burton on the outside with the 44 of Tommy Joe Martins on his inside. Thinking he was clear, Snider slid up the race track and made contact with the 68 of Brandon Brown, causing a seven car accident. Cindric, Haley, Wallace, Daniel Hemric and Joe Graf Jr. were also involved. The 90 was once again the free pass, and Snider was forced to hold two laps for improper fueling. Brown, Hemric, Graf Jr., Cindric, and Snider were all forced out of the race due to the accident. However, that was not before Cindric – leaking fluid – took to the race track and was unable to make up speed.
The 10 of Burton once again led the field to green with Martins on his inside. Eight laps into the restart, Allmendinger once again took the lead after a battle with the 54 of Gibbs and the 10 of teammate Burton. With the stage ending seven laps later, Allmendinger earned his eighth stage win of the season. The 39 of Ryan Sieg was the free pass, getting a lap back. Most lead lap cars pitted at the stage break, and the 54 of Gibbs lost significant time as he got blocked in his pit stall after entering at an awkward angle.
Allmendinger was once again at the front with Jeb Burton on his inside as the field restarted for the final stage. The 20 of Harrison Burton had been running pretty strong all day and was in the fourth position when he reported a vibration and smoke in the cockpit. He pitted a lap later, taking two tires. On lap 87, the 7 of Allgaier took the lead from Allmendinger in a battle between the two and the 1 of Berry. Just a lap later, however, Berry passed both Allmendinger and Allgaier in a strong pass on the outside.
At lap 104, green flag pit stops began with the 9 of Gragson coming in first. The struggles for Gibbs continued as he had a long stop on top of a penalty for an uncontrolled tire. Allmendinger and Berry pitted together on lap 107, taking fuel and their last sets of tires. Allgaier pitted three laps later, but only took fuel.
The caution came out on lap 117 after Jeb Burton stalled on the track due to running out of fuel. Allgaier then pitted again for tires as the 16 and 1 stayed out. It was Berry in the lead for this restart with Allmeninger on the inside. Allmendinger took the lead back on the next lap just before the caution came out for contact between the 99 Jesse Little of and the 74 of Bayley Currey. During the caution, the 11 of Haley pitted from inside the top 15 to replace a flat tire.
In overtime, it was Allmendinger on the outside with Berry on the inside. It was looking to be an intense battle between the two until the caution came out yet again, this time for the 78 of Mason Massey who got into the wall. The 61 of Wallace was the free pass. On overtime attempt number two, it was yet again Allmendinger on the outside and Berry on the inside. Not even a lap later, the caution came out one last time for Gibbs who wrecked into the wall. The 39 of Sieg was the free pass.
On the third and final overtime attempt, Allmendinger led the field to green one last time with the 9 of Gragson on his inside. Berry lined up sixth. After 139 laps, the longest Xfinity race ever run at Michigan International Speedway, AJ Allmendinger claimed his second victory of the week, and third of the year. He is now just 35 points behind the points leader Austin Cindric.
Post-race tech was completed, and no major issues were discovered. Allmendinger’s car had one loose lug nut resulting in a fine, but he was officially declared the winner. The next race will take place on Saturday, August 28th at 7:30 pm at Daytona International Speedway.
Featured photo from @NASCAR_Xfinity on Twitter.