LONG POND, Pa — Daniel Hemric was riding his second to last stint out long as he knew that he had a shot at his first career NASCAR victory. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was leading late in Sunday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Pocono Raceway but still had one more stop to go.
The guy he’d be battling for the win with was Austin Cindric. The Penske driver pit way prior but was 12th, 34 second behind Hemric in the final laps. With everyone in front of Cindric having to pit, could Cindric be in the spot to win?
Well, Hemric’s plan was to just come down pit road and get Sunoco Racing Fuel only. No tires. The team felt like they’d come out at least 2-3 seconds ahead of Cindric if doing so. Unfortunately, that plan quickly went out the window. Hemric ended up pitting from the lead but he was speeding in his No. 18 Toyota.
That put him back to sixth instead.
Cindric, took over the lead with 15 to go and would never look back en route to his 12th career NXS victory. He’s also the sixth different winner in six Xfinity Series races at the Tricky Triangle. This was his fifth top five finish in his No. 22 Ford in the last seven races too.
Still, the ending was closer than what it was going to be as Ty Gibbs was charging hard in his No. 54 Toyota. Gibbs, inherited second place after the final pit sequence concluded and he chased down Cindric and nearly beat him.
Gibbs, finished just .331-seconds behind for his seventh top five result in eight tries this season in this ride. The grandson of Joe Gibbs, four top two results in those races and in all four, Cindric was either first or second himself.
The duo shared Row 7 at the start of the race too.
Second place starter Justin Allgaier finished third in his No. 7 Chevrolet for his sixth top three result in his last eight starts on the season. His JR Motorsports teammate of Noah Gragson was fourth in his No. 9 Chevrolet for a much needed top five finish. This was his first in the last seven starts of the year.
AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five in his No. 16 Chevrolet for his sixth top six in the last seven NXS races.
Hemric had to settle for sixth with his teammate Brandon Jones in seventh. JGR holds the top three wildcard spots in the playoffs with Hemric being +211, Harrison Burton at +155 and Jones +105.
Burton crashed early and finished a disappointing 37th. Justin Haley is ninth in points (+101) but he too crashed early and finished 38th. While he would climb out okay, Haley laid on the ground in pain after a hard crash in Sunday’s race. He’d end up being okay, but out of precaution, he sat out the Cup race after.
Brandon Brown trails Jeremy Clements by 50 points for the final wildcard spot heading to Road America next weekend.