AJ Allmendinger won Friday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol in one of the wildest finishes in history, but was unable to go directly to victory lane. After an animated victory celebration, following climbing from his crashed car, Allmendinger was loaded into the ambulance for an infield care center trip at the conclusion of the Food City 300.
In a furious overtime battle with Austin Cindric for the race win and, more importantly, the regular season championship, Allmendinger got turned off of the final turn of the race.
As Allmendinger hit the inside wall, he collected the win, then he came back across the track and got hit from all angles.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 18, 2021
After being released from the infield care center, Allmendinger spoke to NBC Sports in one of the strangest victory interviews ever.
“That was crazy at the end, you know? We had about a fourth place car,” Allmendinger said. “My team did a great job, we just kept trying to work on it there. You got a chance on the bottom. I got in there and slid up into Austin trying to throttle up and stay on the bottom.
“And then going into 1, Allgaier had a run and there was contact there. Went down into the last corner, and I expected to get run into. It happened in the previous corner. It’s frustrating to get hit that hard coming to the checkered, but we’re battling for the win, it’s Bristol baby. That’s what it’s all about.”
Cindric, who finished second and initiated the final turn contact, placed blame on Allmendinger for the accident.
“Congratulations to Kaulig and AJ,” Cindric said. “Those guys didn’t want us to win, really bad. I hate that it completely destroyed our Menards Richmond Ford Mustang. That’s all I got, man.”
After making that statement, which aired on the track’s P.A. system, Cindric received a shower of boos from the fans in attendance.
But then Cindric redeemed himself with the fans moments later.
When asked about the regular season championship coming down to one single lap, Cindric said, that’s what it’s all about.
“That’s why there’s people in the grandstands,” Cindric said. They want to see that battle. As much as I hate it, it’s about them.”
The crowd, which had been angry at Cindric, reversed course and erupted in applause.
“I just got booed and then I got cheered. I don’t know what happened. It’s Bristol,” Cindric quipped.
Behind the crashed top-two of Allmendinger and Cindric was Riley Herbst in third, who just narrowly missed out on his first-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win.
Justin Allgaier, who played a big hand in the finish, came home fourth. And Brandon Jones was fifth.
Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Myatt Snider, Sam Mayer and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top-10 finishers on Friday night.
Mayer, who finished ninth, was running second with a handful of laps left, but made a misjudgment while trying to pass a lapped car and spun off the front bumper of his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier.
This race was a wild one, which featured 10 cautions on the night.
Playoff Field Set
With Friday night’s Food City 300 at Bristol being the final regular season event of the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, the Playoff field was set.
The 12 drivers, who will compete for a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship are: Cindric, Allmendinger, Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Haley, Hemric, Jeb Burton, Harrison Burton, Snider, Brandon Jones, Herbst and Jeremy Clements.