WATCH: AJ Allmendinger wins wild NASCAR Xfinity race at Bristol sideways
Also wins the regular season championship
When it’s all on the line NASCAR drivers tend to push it to the limit. Never was a truer statement spoken than the NASCAR Xfinity series race at Bristol Motor Speedway Friday night.
In a finish that will be seen on highlight reels for years to come AJ Allmendinger took the lead on the final lap from Austin Cindric and coming to the line Cindric and Allmendinger got together with Allmendinger sliding sideways across the line to win.
The race was the final one of the regular season for the Xfinity series and Cindric had the championship lead much of the race and led the most laps.
A caution on Lap 297 of the 300-lap race at the .533-mile concrete oval bunched up the field and set up an overtime restart. Cindric held the lead for the restart; Allmendinger restarted on the inside of the front row.
Allmendinger spun his tires but was able to get back alongside the No. 22 Ford of Cindric, passing him after taking the white flag. Cindric made a move on the inside at the exit of Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag when he made contact with Allmendinger’s No. 16 Chevrolet, sending both cars into the inside wall after Allmendinger crossed the line first for victory.
“I expected to get run into,” Allmendinger said. “It happened that previous corner. It’s frustrating getting hit that hard coming to checker, but we’re battling for the win. It’s Bristol, baby. That’s what it’s all about.
“I haven’t had a lot of chances to get a win at Bristol, so you know what? When you have a chance to do it, you’ve got to go do it. If I don’t take that chance, I don’t belong in a race car, because my team deserves the win.”
Cindric seemed restrained in his post-race interview.
“I thought we had a great battle all season long up to this point, so congratulations to Kaulig and AJ,” said Cindric, who led 75 laps, third-most behind Allgaier’s 92 and Daniel Hemric’s 78. “Those guys didn’t want us to win really bad, and I hate that it completely destroyed our Ford Mustang.
“That’s all I’ve got, man… It’s looks like the 7 (Allgaier) just got loose there (in spinning Mayer), and AJ obviously just drove straight through us. You’ll have that in green-white-checkered racing.”
Allmendinger was able to clinch the regular season Xfinity title with the win over Cindric. Allmendinger came into Saturday night’s race just five points ahead Cindric.
The 12-driver playoff field is now set for the Xfinity Series. Drivers include Allmendinger, Cindric, Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Justin Haley, Daniel Hemric, Jeb Burton, Harrison Burton, Myatt Snider, Brandon Jones, Jeremy Clements and Riley Herbst.