Cindric Wins Friday Night’s Alsco 300 AT Kentucky, Burton, Gragson Fight, Main Takeaways

SPARTA, KY — Austin Cindric put on a clinic this week at the Kentucky Speedway. The Team Penske driver had never won on an oval before, but after a doubleheader here on the 1.5-mile track, he leaves Kentucky 2-for-2.

Cindric, led 41 of 136 laps on Thursday night en route to his first victory of the season. 24 hours later, Cindric dominated in leading 130 of 200 laps in earning back-to-back victories in his No. 22 Ford.

He took over the lead on Lap 62 and would lead the next 87 laps. The only time he gave up the lead was for the final pit sequence, as he’d lead 130 of the final 137 laps. He now has scored four top five finishes in his last five starts on the season.

But, the win was shaping up to be a blowout on Friday. Brandon Jones moved low to pass Daniel Hemric in Turn 1 with 18 laps-to-go, but lost control of his No. 19 Toyota and crashed for a second straight night. That brought out the yellow, and erased a 14.172 second lead Cindric had over Hemric and a 16+ second lead over fourth place Chase Briscoe.

Under the caution, the eight lead lap cars hit pit road which saw Cindric come out first and never relinquished the lead again. What he said that was most impressive was that they went with two completely different setups on his car in both nights and they won each race.

Briscoe, finished runner-up, 2.262-seconds back, in his No. 98 Ford for back-to-back top five finishes at Kentucky and seven top 10 finishes in his last nine starts on the season.

The two Kaulig Racing teammate finished third and fourth respectively with Justin Haley in third in his No. 11 Chevrolet and Ross Chastain in fourth in his No. 10 Chevrolet.

Haley, said that the two teammates were just missing something here this weekend but was happy to salvage two top 10’s. He now has five top seven finishes in his last six tries on the year.

For Chastain, he was third on Thursday night too as he’s now had four top four finishes in his last five starts overall and eight consecutive top 10’s overall.

Justin Allgaier rebounded from being a lap down all night to finish fifth in his No. 7 Chevrolet.

Here are my main takeaways.

JGR Frustrated Again

Riley Herbst gave Joe Gibbs Racing a shot in the arm on Thursday night. The rookie driver brought his No. 18 Toyota home runner-up in the opening race of a doubleheader week at the Kentucky Speedway for the Xfinity Series.

See, heading into the twinbill that was on tap here on the 1.5-mile northern Kentucky race track, JGR was reeling in the series. Brandon Jones, then suffered his second first lap crash in three races and would come home 36th last night. His last four finishes now were 16th, 36th, 37th and 36th respectively.

Harrison Burton had an early race pit penalty on Thursday then spun on Lap 129 while running well inside of the top 10. He’d finish 17th for his best finish in his last four with being 32nd, 32nd and 25th respectively in the previous three.

So, as you can see, Herbst gave them life.

On Friday night, they had a great overall “team” night for 95-percent of the race. All three cars were top five contenders. Then, the final pit sequence happened.

Riley Herbst was speeding on pit road while coming into the final sequence in second. He fell a lap down as a result. He took the waive around on the final caution to finish 10th. Jones, crashed with 22 laps-to-go in Turn 2 while trying to pass Daniel Hemric for second. He finished 30th for his fourth straight sub 30th place result.

Then, Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson made contact on the final restart which saw both get into the wall. Burton, limped home 12th for his fifth straight finish outside of the top 10.

JGR has shown to have fast race cars this year, but the finishes aren’t there.

Herbst Finding His Groove, Speeding Penalty Costs Him A Top 5 Finish On Friday Though

Riley Herbst hears the criticism thrown in his direction. He knows that he has been handed a great opportunity in driving for a top team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing. He knows that the finishes so far this season have been less than desired.

But, he’d like to note though that he’s not raced on most of these tracks before. Other than a few ARCA starts, he’s only raced in eight Truck Series events too. So, being a rookie without any practice, well it was proving difficult to get the finishes that the No. 18 Toyota deserved.

Now that he’s had some seat time though, he’s starting to heat up.

Herbst, finished runner-up in the first night of the doubleheader this week at the Kentucky Speedway and was running there on the final pit sequence before making a costly mistake. Herbst, was speeding while exiting pit road, as he went from a top two or three finish to 10th.

Leaving Kentucky, Herbst has now scored five top 10 finishes in his last seven tries and if not for his mistake, he would have two straight top fives. He’s starting to climb further and further up the playoff standings as he heads to Texas next weekend +69 in 10th.

Great Drive For Hemric

Daniel Hemric needed this. The start to his tenure with JR Motorsports has been filled with ups and downs. He finished second in Charlotte back in May which was the middle of a four race stretch of consecutive top six finishes, but he’s also finished 28th or worse in four races too.

Last year’s NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year was left hanging when Richard Childress Racing had no other choice but to move two-time defending Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick up to a Cup ride. Reddick, was a free agent and made it clear, he was going to Cup in 2020 whether it’s with RCR or not.

With Austin Dillon under contract with RCR on the Cup level and him also being Childress’ grandson, plus no money available to expand to a three car team, Hemric was the odd man out.

So, back to the Xfinity Series he went and JRM had a part-time opening. This was supposed to be the place where the North Carolina native finally won in NASCAR. JRM had been the dominating team over the last several years in the series and this was his opportunity to shine.

But, bad luck had gotten in the way more times than not.

He was 31st two starts ago in Homestead. 28th next in Pocono. Then, Jeb Burton wrecked this race car on the first lap last night, so to the back they went.

Hemric, still charged hard. He’d finish ninth in Stage 1, fifth in Stage 2. He’d finish ninth in his No. 8 Chevrolet overall for his sixth top 10 finish of the season in 10 tries. While he had a top five car, he had contact with Jones on that last caution which took the handling away from his car. Plus, the racing was intense there over the final 10 laps which saw him fade.

Dirty Air Cost Gragson Again

Noah Gragson started fifth but it only took 12 laps before he took over the lead again during Friday night’s Alsco 300. Gragson, led a race-high 87 of 136 laps in Thursday night’s Xfinity Series race at the Kentucky Speedway, but a bad pit call for him to take four tires prior to the final stage of racing put him in dirty air for the first time of the night and hurt his chances of winning.

Gragson, swept both stages but was on the wrong line on the final restart and faded to 11th in the end.

On Friday, he picked up where he left off at the end of the second stage last night. Gragson, led 37 laps at the beginning and took his third stage win of the week. Then, he was speeding on pit road. Instead of restarting the second stage in first, he’d restart at the back in 25th.

He’d struggle in dirty air from there and only came home eighth in Stage 2. They had to work hard to finish seventh.

The speed was far greater than the finishes showed here in Kentucky.

Allgaier Had Speed, Just Bad Luck At Beginning Of Friday’s Race

Justin Allgaier scared us all on Thursday night. He was involved in that scary last lap crash at the Kentucky Speedway, but his No. 7 Chevrolet took the lightest of the three car impacts and it was him being transported to the hospital for further evaluation.

No other updates were given until early on Friday morning that said that Allgaier had a non racing related health issue. Later, he’d get cleared to race tonight with Allgaier saying before the start of the Alsco 300 that his heart rate was higher than normal in the infield care center after the crash and needed to be taken for further diagnosis on what was going on.

Luckily, it was a false alarm and he was okay with nothing underlying.

Unfortunately, his night, or race winning hopes I should say, were short lived. Some how, a brake rotor hit Allgaier’s car early in the race and forced him to an unscheduled pit stop a few laps prior to the competition caution. He’d fall a lap down, but by time the Lap 20 yellow flew, a few other cars were also a lap down and earned the free pass. Without the leaders pitting on that competition yellow, Allgaier couldn’t take the waive around.

He was pinned a lap down all race but his speed was blazing quick. He was passing all the fast cars all night but never could get on the lead lap until the caution for the Brandon Jones crash with 22 to go. He took the waive around and would restart 11th with 14 laps remaining.

He’d finish fifth on old tires for his first top five since Charlotte (10 races ago). It just showed though that if he could have gotten on the lead lap, how scary good he would have been.

Briscoe Escapes Kentucky With Dual Top 5 Finishes

Chase Briscoe entered the doubleheader this week at the Kentucky Speedway on the heels of two straight wins and three in his last four NASCAR Xfinity Series races. But, he knew this upcoming three race stretch could be rough for them.

Briscoe, says two of his worst tracks on the schedule at the next two venues up. He never felt comfortable at Kentucky, nor next weekend’s race at the Texas Motor Speedway. With not one, but two races at Kentucky, all the momentum he’s found, could have derailed his efforts.

Instead, Briscoe brought his No. 98 Ford home in the top five in both races.

The Indiana native was fourth on Thursday night and runner-up on Friday. He now has four straight top five finishes, three of those in the top two, on the season and eight top 10’s in his last nine starts overall.

Alfredo Has Solid Week In Kentucky

Anthony Alfredo has very minimal NASCAR experience. Heading into this weekend at the Kentucky Speedway, he’s made only 13 Truck Series starts and just seven in the Xfinity Series.

But, following two more NXS starts in consecutive days, he showed great promise. Alfredo, finished sixth on Thursday night and again on Friday night in his No. 21 Chevrolet.

What’s even more impressive is, Alfredo was one of just three drivers to score stage points in all four stages. He was fifth and fourth respectively in both Stage 1’s and 10th and second in the second stages.

Points Battle

The points bubble is a tight one. Ryan Sieg, Brandon Brown, Myatt Snider and Jeremy Clements are battling for 11th and 12th in the playoff standings.

Clements, scored stage points in two of the four stages and finished 12th on Thursday and 11th on Friday. He moves up to 14th in the points now, 30 points out.

Snider, dropped out late and finished 31st. He went from +4 to -14 due to Brandon Brown finishing 27th on Thursday but rebounding to 13th on Friday to get back on the good side.

Sieg, had a rough night early and dropped out with a 35th place finish. He’s now 47 points to the good after entering tonight’s race +65.

Burton/Gragson Fight In The Garage

On the final restart, Noah Gragson drove his No. 9 Chevrolet into the Turn 3 corner deep. He got underneath Harrison Burton, but he got loose and got into him as a result. The two would slide up the track and into the Turn 4 SAFER barrier.

After the race, the two had a confrontation in the garage area which saw punches thrown and a drag out fight.

Gragson, didn’t have his mask on, so will that spark a fine or a points penalty?

Still, race winner Austin Cindric didn’t see what happened as he was well clear of the two in front, but he said that with a one groove race track and it being difficult to pass here, you have to be aggressive to make moves around the 1.5-mile track, so he wasn’t shocked to hear about a post race scuffle.

Alsco 300 Results

  1. 22 Cindric
  2. 98 Briscoe
  3. 11 Haley
  4. 10 Chastain
  5.  7 Allgaier
  6. 21 Alfredo
  7.  9 Gragson
  8.  1 Annett
  9.  8 Hemric
  10. 18 Herbst R
  11. 51 Clements
  12. 20 Burton R
  13. 68 Brown -1
  14.  4 Little R -2
  15. 92 Williams -2
  16. 07 Smithley -2
  17. 02 Moffitt -3
  18.  0 Earnhardt -3
  19.  5 Mills -3
  20.  6 McLeod -3
  21. 15 Howard -3
  22. 08 Graf Jr. R -3
  23. 99 Massey -4
  24. 36 Labbe -4
  25. 74 Currey -5
  26. 61 Hill -6
  27. 44 Martins -6
  28. 78 Miller -7
  29. 52 Vanderwal R -8
  30. 19 Jones OUT
  31. 93 Snider R OUT
  32. 90 Bassett Jr. OUT
  33. 13 Finchum OUT
  34. 66 Leicht OUT
  35. 39 Sieg OUT
  36. 47 Weatherman OUT

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