Austin Cindric butchers field in OT for Beef 300 win, Penske NXS team meats Daytona Victory Lane for first time

Fresh off his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, Austin Cindric is already steak-ing his claim for a repeat. Starting from the pole, he held off Brett Moffitt in overtime to win the season-opening Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

Cindric was placed on the pole after qualifying was cancelled due to rain, and the use of 2020’s owner points meant championship runner-up Justin Allgaier started second. While Cindric and Riley Herbst would see early success by spending time in the lead, the same could not be said for DGM Racing as their drivers brought out the first three cautions: Alex Labbé spun on lap five after being clipped by Ty Dillon, followed by Josh Williams‘ car stopping on the backstretch on lap 11 for a flat left-rear tyre and a spin eight laps later.

Although Herbst, new to Stewart-Haas Racing, led for much of the opening stage, he would lose the segment win to former Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Brandon Jones by just .004 of a second. Dillon, the fastest driver in Friday’s practice, finished third in the stage ahead of Cindric, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Allgaier, Harrison Burton, Ryan Sieg, and Brandon Brown.

Sieg, who switched to Ford beginning in 2021, led for much of Stage #2 before being passed by Camping World Truck Series full-timer Moffitt. On lap 62, as Moffitt crossed the line for the stage win, the first major wreck of the day took place when Jones came down in the tri-oval and clipped by Myatt Snider, sending him through the grass and into the outside wall; as his car slid down the track, Cody Ware was unable to avoid him. Labbé also collided with Jones.

Dillon finished second in the stage, followed by Cindric, Haley, Brown, Sieg, Jeremy Clements, Snider, Gragson, and Josh Berry.

Cindric led the field to the start of Stage #3. After ten laps, as much of the field prepared to pit under green, Michael Annett spun up the course, triggering a multi-car crash that collected Sieg, Robby Lyons, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding, Colby Howard, and Bayley Currey. Lyons collided with a safety truck after a miscommunication with his spotter, who was subsequently ordered to the NASCAR hauler.

“Thankful that everyone on the AMR safety crew are safe after last night. I wasn’t made aware that the apron in T3 was impassable. Tower had communicated multiple instructions to the spotter but I was told nothing. LF tire came apart as my car enters T3,” Lyons began in a Twitter thread. “I knew that if I had locked up the brakes, I was going to be pointed toward the back of the ambulance. I let off the brakes to turn the car right and get away from it and slow the car on the the banking, and there was nothing I could do to keep it from sliding down.

“I personally requested to meet with the head of the AMR safety crew following the incident to express my sincere apologies and cover the incident in detail as I had earlier with series Director Wayne Auton. I’m thankful that when we all left the race track last night, we were all able to put the incident behind us and that everyone was safe in what was a scary yet preventable situation. I know myself and my team will make the necessary changes moving forward.”

Burton would enjoy the longest stretch in the front as the race hit the triple-digit mark, leading twenty-eight laps. Yet another Big One took place on lap 106, this time featuring the leaders, when Dillon got loose while receiving a push from Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Hemric in turn three. Allgaier, Herbst, Brown, Justin Haley, Timmy Hill, Jeb Burton, Josh Berry, Danny Bohn, among others were also victims of the wreck.

Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Cindric took the lead as the race resumed on lap 113, but what would be the final wreck occurred two laps later when Landon Cassill was hooked by Burton and Tommy Joe Martins by Jeremy Clements in the tri-oval, sending Cassill and Martins spinning and the latter through the infield; Martins’ splitter dug into the wet grass, destroying his front end. Cassill and Martins, both racing for small teams, had been fighting for top-ten positions.

“Hated that for Landon and his team,” Burton tweeted. “I don’t just wreck people. I believe he wasn’t aware I was outside of him.”

In overtime, a strong restart kept Cindric in front while Moffitt and both Burtons were unable to catch up as he pulled away for his ninth career victory. Besides being Team Penske‘s first Xfinity win at Daytona, Cindric also became the second driver to win an Xfinity title followed by the Daytona opener the following year, joining Randy LaJoie who won the 1996 championship and 1997 opener. LaJoie, father of current Cup Series driver Corey, would also go on to win the 1997 title.

The win continues what has been an eventful Speedweeks for Cindric, who will make his Cup début in Sunday’s Daytona 500 for Penske.

“What an awesome race,” Cindric stated. “What a really fast Verizon 5G Ford Mustang. Unbelievable effort by everyone at Team Penske. Obviously, coming off a lot of momentum winning that championship last year, but nothing is guaranteed and keep working hard.”

With Daytona’s reputation for underdog success, other notable finishes included Brandon Gdovic and Sam Hunt Racing scoring their maiden top ten in eighth and Jason White finishing tenth in his first NASCAR race since since 2014. Joe Graf Jr. came up short of a top ten but recorded his career best finish of eleventh, a feat also accomplished by Caesar Bacarella in twelfth. Brown’s sixth-place finish ties his best on a superspeedway, coincidentally also at Daytona, in 2019.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 1 22 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford 122 Running
2 15 02 Brett Moffitt* Our Motorsports Chevrolet 122 Running
3 8 20 Harrison Burton Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 122 Running
4 7 10 Jeb Burton Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 122 Running
5 31 16 A.J. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 122 Running
6 14 68 Brandon Brown Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet 122 Running
7 11 2 Myatt Snider Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 122 Running
8 39 26 Brandon Gdovic Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 122 Running
9 12 18 Daniel Hemric Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 122 Running
10 40 23 Jason White RSS Racing Ford 122 Running
11 18 07 Joe Graf Jr. SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 122 Running
12 38 90 Caesar Bacarella B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 122 Running
13 36 99 Stefan Parsons B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 122 Running
14 32 54 Ty Dillon Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 122 Running
15 34 47 Kyle Weatherman Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet 122 Running
16 27 5 Matt Mills B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 122 Running
17 24 78 Jesse Little B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 122 Running
18 21 6 Ryan Vargas JD Motorsports Chevrolet 122 Running
19 28 48 Danny Bohn* Big Machine Racing Chevrolet 122 Running
20 37 66 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Ford 121 Running
21 17 92 Josh Williams DGM Racing Chevrolet 120 Running
22 16 51 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 120 Running
23 33 4 Landon Cassill JD Motorsports Chevrolet 114 Accident
24 22 44 Tommy Joe Martins Martins Motorsports Chevrolet 114 Accident
25 23 61 Robby Lyons MBM Motorsports Toyota 105 Accident
26 4 98 Riley Herbst Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 105 Accident
27 9 8 Josh Berry JR Motorsports Chevrolet 104 Accident
28 2 7 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 104 Accident
29 3 11 Justin Haley Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 104 Accident
30 26 13 Chad Finchum MBM Motorsports Ford 104 Accident
31 13 39 Ryan Sieg RSS Racing Ford 81 DVP
32 5 9 Noah Gragson JR Motorsports Chevrolet 76 Accident
33 30 74 Bayley Currey* Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet 75 Accident
34 35 52 Gray Gaulding Jimmy Means Racing Chevrolet 75 Accident
35 20 15 Colby Howard JD Motorsports Chevrolet 75 Accident
36 10 1 Michael Annett JR Motorsports Chevrolet 74 Accident
37 25 0 Jeffrey Earnhardt JD Motorsports Chevrolet 74 Accident
38 6 19 Brandon Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 60 Accident
39 29 17 Cody Ware* SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 60 Accident
40 19 36 Alex Labbé DGM Racing Chevrolet 60 Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points

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