A late-race caution at NASCAR’s regular season finale left Austin Cindric in what appeared to be a great position to take victory — but those two laps of overtime proved otherwise.
In that short span of time, A. J. Allmendinger pushed his way up to second place after Cindric’s excellent restart, and soon after, the addition of Justin Allgaier brought the drivers three-wide into the final lap. It was a tight battle, but it wasn’t a clean one.
Allgaier and Cindric made contact, which let Allmendinger slip into the lead of the race. Cindric wasn’t ready to let that go, pushing on to challenge Allmendinger for the win. Then those two made contact, sending both drivers sliding sideways over the finish line for a frankly unbelievable finish:
It was a bit of a disaster, all things said. Allmendinger was ultimately credited with the win by a mere 0.082 seconds. His car was towed to inspection, and Allmendinger was ushered to the infield care center. His victory-lane interview took place outside that center once he was cleared.
“The adrenaline is running so I feel fine. Tomorrow, my whole body’s really going to hurt,” Allmendinger said of that final wreck. “It was an opportunity. Austin and that No. 22 team was really quick. I went for it on that restart and knew contact was coming.
“I knew we’d won the race and then all hell broke loose. It’s something to talk about, for sure, tomorrow. We won, so I’m going to smile, but afterwards you’re frustrated. You take a break and think about it, and you know it’s just racing.
“Honestly, I hope that at Phoenix, it’s us two doing that for a championship. He’s made me become so much better as a race car driver.”
It’s a great sentiment, and one that will likely create some great battles as playoff season progresses.
Interestingly, though Allmendinger won the regular series championship, he’s seeded second in the playoffs, behind Cindric. This is because playoff points are calculated differently than regular season points.
With Bristol being the final race of the regular season, that also means the Playoff grid has been set for the upcoming races. The drivers involved are:
- Austin Cindric
- A. J. Allmendinger
- Justin Allgaier
- Noah Gragson
- Justin Haley
- Daniel Hemric
- Jeb Burton
- Harrison Burton
- Myatt Snider
- Brandon Jones
- Riley Herbst
- Jeremy Clements