The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers have one more opportunity to push through and lock up a spot in the playoffs. Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger have both achieved this goal with wins, but they continue to fight for something even bigger. They are going after the regular-season championship.
The driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro currently has the lead with one race remaining in the regular season. However, his advantage over Cindric is very slight. The Team Penske man is only five points behind his peer heading toward a track where he has two top-five finishes in six starts. Allmendinger, on the other hand, only has one start at Bristol in his Xfinity Series career, a 10th-place finish in 2020.
The winner of the regular season championship automatically locks up a fancy trophy, as well as 15 bonus playoff points. This amount provides an early advantage during the Round of 12 and essentially guarantees that the champion will move past the first round of cuts and into the Round of 10.
Cindric Had the Lead for Most of the 2021 Regular Season
Allmendinger may have the points lead after the race at Richmond, but he did not have control for the majority of the regular season. In fact, he only overtook Cindric during the Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang kicked off the season with two wins in the first five races before locking up the top spot on the leaderboard. He made five total trips to Victory Lane — at Daytona International Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The situation changed for Cindric after he won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He crashed at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway while Allmendinger won one race and finished behind teammate Justin Haley at Daytona. These two performances combined with two other wins to launch him into the top spot. Now Allmendinger and Cindric will battle with each other in the regular-season finale for the regular-season championship.
Cindric Won the Title During the 2020 Xfinity Season
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford previously locked up the regular-season championship during the 2020 Xfinity Series season. He built up a 71-point advantage after the race at Richmond on Sept. 12, 2020, ensuring that he would not have to stress about accruing points in the regular-season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I’m not much of a goal-setter,” Cindric said told reporters after the race, per NASCAR Media. “The goals are pretty straightforward in NASCAR these days and that’s winning races. But, as a team, we sat down and I put it at the top of my list: regular-season championship. That pays off the biggest playoff points and that’s a real mark of how strong your team is and how consistent you’re able to be that strong.”
Cindric entered the 2020 playoffs as the No. 1 seed and steadily moved through the rounds. He posted sixth-place finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Charlotte Roval. He added a fourth-place run at Texas Motor Speedway and a 10th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway to lock up a spot in the championship race. Cindric then held off Noah Gragson to win at Phoenix and secure his Xfinity Series title.