Noah Gragson and Austin Cindric combined to lead 128 of 136 laps in Thursday night’s Shady Rays 200 at Kentucky Speedway, but it was Cindric who emerged victoriously.
Cindric won after leading 41 laps, finishing third in the first stage and finishing second in the second stage. However, he did not lead until the final stage and had to avoid mayhem at the very start.
Prior to the start of the race, drivers complained about the track being dirty. In the first turn of the first lap, No. 8 Jeb Burton spun and was hit by No. 19 Brandon Jones.
Jones’ crew was unable to get the car repaired but Burton’s crew was. Burton was able to run 45 laps before falling out of the race, finishing 34th.
The race ran clean for the rest of the first stage with the only other caution being a competition caution on lap 17.
Noah Gragson won the first stage and was followed by Harrison Burton, Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain, Anthony Alfredo, Michael Annett, Justin Haley, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Sieg and Brett Moffitt, who rounded out the top 10.
Gragson also won the second stage, which ran caution-free. He was followed by Cindric, Briscoe, Chastain, Riley Herbst, Allgaier, Annett, Sieg, Brandon Brown and Alfredo, who rounded out the top 10.
Heading into the race’s final stage, Gragson appeared to be untouchable; that is until a lap 90 caution, involving No. 11 Justin Haley and No. 68 Brandon Brown in turn three, shook things up for him.
Under caution, Haley took two tires while Gragson took four, causing Haley to take the lead from Gragson. On the lap 95 restart, Haley was joined on the front row by No. 51 Jeremy Clements who had also taken two tires. Haley briefly took the lead but he was passed by Cindric, who had gotten by Clements and Gragson.
Cindric took control of the race but had to survive a slew of cautions in the final 31 laps of the race.
On lap 104, No. 10 Ross Chastain slid into No. 02 Brett Moffitt causing them to slide and Moffitt to hit the wall, bringing out the caution and causing tempers to flare.
On lap 121, No. 15 Colby Howard spun and hit the wall in turns one and two after racing closely with No. 21 Anthony Alfredo for several laps. Howard made a gesture to Alfredo before entering the ambulance to the infield care center.
On lap 131, No. 20 Harrison Burton spun in turn three after contact with No. 1 Michael Annett, causing an overtime restart.
On the overtime restart, No. 98 Chase Briscoe restarted to the inside of Cindric and challenged in turn one, but fell back after getting loose on the exit of turn two.
After this, Cindric was virtually untouchable, with a final-lap backstretch wreck, involving Ronnie Bassett Jr., Justin Allgaier and Timmy Hill, sealing the win for Cindric.
Bassett and Hill were treated and released at the infield care center while Allgaier was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. No word has been said yet on Allgaier’s condition.
Cindric’s win was his third career Xfinity Series win but his first on an oval. It was also his first win of the season and virtually locks him into the Xfinity Series playoffs.
Briscoe finished fourth after challenging Cindric for the win in turns 1 and 2 on the final restart.
Kyle Weatherman finished eighth in his no. 47 Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet Camaro, which is his best career Xfinity Series finish.
The top ten finishers were as follows: Austin Cindric, Riley Herbst, Ross Chastain, Chase Briscoe, Michael Annett, Anthony Alfredo, Justin Haley, Kyle Weatherman, Ryan Sieg and Brett Moffitt.
Noah Gragson, who led the most laps of any driver Thursday night (87), finished 11th.
Briscoe leads the Xfinity Series points by 16 over Gragson, as the series races at Kentucky Speedway again tomorrow night for the Alsco 300 (8 p.m. ET; TV: FS1).
The top 15 finishers will be inverted to form the lineup for Friday’s Alsco 300. This means that No. 93 Myatt Snider will start on the pole with No. 4 Jesse Little in second.