WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Austin Cindric’s dad never wanted him to be a racer. Dad might want to change his mind now.
Cindric won on the road course at Watkins Glen in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series on Saturday, holding off veteran AJ Allmendinger in the final two laps. It was the first series win in 54 races for the 20-year-old Penske Racing driver, and he outran one of the best road racers in NASCAR.
“It’s fantastic. It means so much in the playoffs,” Cindric said. “To be able to execute today, that’s what we need with six or seven races left before the playoffs. It’s a momentum shift.”
Allmendinger moved out to a big lead with five laps left in the 82-lap event, but Cindric, with fresher tires in his No. 22 Ford, slowly began closing the gap and was within two car-lengths with three laps to go. He closed to the back bumper of Allmendinger’s No. 10 Chevy in the inner loop but Allmendinger held his ground.
On Lap 81, Cindric tried again to pass going up through the esses and dogged Allmendinger coming out of the carousel turn, a sweeping right-hander, then made the pass.
Not finished yet, Allmendinger bumped Cindric back, forcing him wide, and briefly retook the lead before going wide into the final turn, allowing Cindric to recover. He then made it through the tough first turn and up through the esses as Allmendinger finally faded, finishing 1.16 seconds behind.
Christopher Bell was third, Justin Allgaier fourth and Ryan Blaney fifth.
After the race, Allmendinger’s car failed postrace inspection and was disqualified for height. NASCAR said it didn’t meet the minimum height and said the team had until noon Monday to appeal. The car also was disqualified at Daytona in July with Allmendinger driving.
Verstappen wins F1 pole
After his brilliant win at the rain-soaked German Grand Prix last weekend, Max Verstappen had a near-perfect lap at the Hungarian GP to take the first pole position of his Formula One career on Saturday.
The Red Bull driver set a track record with 1 minute, 14.958 seconds and then beat it again with 1:14.572.
“Big thanks to the team, the car was flying,” said Verstappen, who became the 100th F1 driver to take a pole.
“This one was missing. ... It was only a matter of time.”
It was another boost for the 21-year-old Verstappen, who has won two of the past three races to creep into outside contention for the title race although defending champion Lewis Hamilton — who qualified in third place behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas — remains comfortably ahead.