The NASCAR XFinity Series regular season came to an end at Bristol, with the race and title being decided in overtime. But what happened between the two contenders, and what did they have to say about it afterwards?
AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric race for NASCAR XFinity title in Bristol overtime
Team Penske’s Austin Cindric seemed set to take the XFinity regular season title at Bristol, before a late caution sent the race to overtime.
Cindric’s #22 machine got the better restart, but was soon pegged back by AJ Allmendinger’s Kaulig Racing entry.
Justin Allgaier joined the fun to make it a three-wide battle as they took the white flag.
Rounding the final corner, Cindric lunged at Allmendinger in a final attempt to grab the title.
He failed, collecting Allmendinger’s #16, spinning both to the inside.
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Allmendinger bounced back into the middle of the track, and was hit by a slowing car.
He jumped out his car to celebrate winning the race, and title, by 0.082s, having led just one lap.
Allmendinger then headed off to the infield care centre for a check-up.
What did Allmendinger and Cindric have to say about Bristol collision?
“That was crazy at the end. we had a fourth place car,” Allmendinger explained after being released from the care centre.
“I expected to get run into.
“It happened that previous corner. It’s frustrating getting hit that hard coming to [the] checker, but we’re battling for the win.
“It’s Bristol, baby. That’s what it’s all about.
“I haven’t had a lot of chances to get a win at Bristol, so you know what?
“When you have a chance to do it, you’ve got to go do it.
If I don’t take that chance, I don’t belong in a race car, because my team deserves the win.”
For his part, reigning XFinity Series champion Cindric was cordial in defeat.
“I’m sure everybody in the grandstands will remember this one,” he said.
“What happened on the last lap? The short summary is short track racing.
“The long summary is a lot of contact.
“I would say it was a bit desperate [his last corner lunge], but monkey see, monkey do.
“I don’t want to tear up race cars and can’t say I am the one who instigated any of that.
First title success for Allmendinger since junior career
Allmendinger’s regular season championship came on the back of four wins in the XFinity Series.
He took the chequered flags at Las Vegas, Mid-Ohio, Michigan and at Bristol.
In addition, he has also secured a further 13 top 10 results throughout the campaign in his Chevrolet.
2021 marks Allmendinger’s first full-time assault on the XFinity Series, and his first in any championship since Cup in 2018.
His regular season title is the first the affable Californian has won in his career since 2003.
He won the Champ Car Atlantic title that year.
Champ Car was the successor to CART after it declared bankruptcy following the CART/IRL split of 1996.
The Atlantic Series was essentially a junior series – think Formula Two, XFinity or Indy Lights to Formula One, Cup or IndyCar.
Despite Champ Car merging with IRL in 2008 to create IndyCar as we know it today, Formula Atlantic still races on.
It’s been going since 1974 under various guises, with Champ Car just one of these.