The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers faced off on Saturday, Aug. 14, at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Defending champion Austin Cindric continued his quest for another title with a dominant performance during the final stage, locking up his fifth win of the year.
Cindric achieved his goal of winning by implementing a smart strategy. He headed to pit road before the end of Stage 2 for fuel and tires while Kaulig Racing drivers Justin Haley and AJ Allmendinger remained out on the track to lock up some points. Cindric then recaptured the lead after a late caution and built up a lead of more than three seconds over his fellow drivers. Allmendinger finished second while Haley, Chase Elliott, and Noah Gragson all rounded out the top five.
With his win, Cindric capped off a perfect Saturday for Team Penske. Driver Will Power won the IndyCar race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his first of the year. Hours later, Cindric delivered another win for track owner Roger Penske. The driver will now strive to give Penske a perfect weekend when he joins the Cup Series for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday, Aug. 15.
The Trackside Curbs Sent Several Stock Cars to the Garage
Several drivers had the opportunity to gain some critical points at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but they saw their days come to an early end. The reason for their trips to the garage was the placement of the curbs on the side of the track.
These obstacles had the purpose of keeping drivers out of the grass, but they actually served as ramps that sent several stock cars up into the air on the first lap of the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard. Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones, and Kevin Harvick all hit a curb on Turn 6 and went airborne. They crashed back down to the track surface and damaged their respective stock cars. Harvick and Jones both went to the garage without completing a lap while Burton’s team managed to make repairs on pit road.
The incidents continued with Kris Wright. The driver of the No. 26 Sam Hunt Racing Toyota Supra hit another curb between Turns 5 and 6 and flew higher than his peers. The stock car slammed violently back onto the track and somehow slid between Riley Herbst’s No. 98, Jeb Burton’s No. 10, and Sage Karam’s No. 31 without hitting any other vehicles.
Like his peers, Wright headed to the garage after making it back to pit road. His race came to an end midway through Stage 2, much earlier than he hoped at the start of the day. Fortunately, Wright avoided any injuries and received clearance to depart the infield care center.
A Collision Ruined Sam Mayer’s Promising Day
The rookie driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports entered the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard with raised expectations about his performance. As a driver with considerable experience on road courses, as well as a top-10 finish at Watkins Glen, Mayer expected to achieve success at Indianapolis and potentially contend for the win.
The 18-year-old impressed throughout the race, cracking the top-five midway through Stage 2. He finished the segment 22nd after pitting early in order to get four tires and enough fuel to reach the end of the race. He remained in the top 10 at the start of Stage 3 but did not remain in contention for a top finish.
Mayer’s day came to an end after a collision with Chase Elliott, who replaced Michael Annett in the No. 1 JRM Chevrolet Camaro. The two men fought for position while navigating through Turns 5 and 6 but collided near the edge of the track. Elliott swerved left toward the middle of the track while Mayer swerved right to avoid the curb that sent several drivers to the garage.
Mayer lost control of the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet Camaro and went sliding through the grass at the edge of the track. He could not stop the stock car before it slammed violently into the tire barrier. The collision destroyed the front of the stock car and sent Mayer to the garage early with a 27th-place finish. He showcased his frustration after climbing out of the stock car by slamming his hands on the roof.