NASCAR: Austin Cindric came one lap away from a record

Brandon Jones’s pass of Austin Cindric on the final lap of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kansas Speedway denied Cindric an all-time record.

Just a few weeks ago, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric was on a 25-race win drought and had still never won a NASCAR Xfinity Series oval race, despite having secured the first two victories of his career last August.

Then came the sport’s trip to Kentucky Speedway for a doubleheader. Cindric won the first race of the doubleheader, and he came back the following night and dominated en route to his second straight win.

It appeared as though the 21-year-old Columbus, Ohio native would see his two-race winning streak end at Texas Motor Speedway, when Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in front of him in second place.

But after the race, Busch’s #54 Toyota failed inspection, disqualifying him and promoting Cindric to his third consecutive victory.

Kansas Speedway, like Kentucky Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, is a 1.5-mile oval, so Cindric figured to be in the mix in his #22 Ford. Indeed, he was more than in the mix; he dominated the race, leading 130 of the first 157 laps. However, he was passed late for the lead by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton, whose #20 Toyota was the car to beat on long runs. But then a caution flag came out, giving Cindric a chance to win in overtime.

Cindric ended up ahead of Burton after they both made pit stops during the caution flag period. RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg stayed out on the track to inherit the lead alongside Cindric on the front row.

Moments after the ensuing restart, Cindric appeared to have taken the lead from Sieg, but the caution flag flew again, and it was deemed that Sieg still had the lead at the most recent timing line.

On what turned out to be the final restart, Cindric was able to take the lead from Sieg. He took the white flag as the leader. But Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones, who seemingly came out of nowhere after restarting all the way back on the fourth row in seventh place, was able to run him down on the final lap and make the winning pass.

Jones’s 0.405-second victory over Cindric in second place denied Cindric what would have been an all-time Xfinity Series record.

Cindric was seeking his fourth consecutive victory. Only one driver at NASCAR’s second highest level of competition has ever won four races in a row, with that being the late Sam Ard.

Ard pulled off this historic feat back in the 1983 season when the series was known as the Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series. He won the races at South Boston Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Orange County Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway late in the year.

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Cindric is slated to attempt to begin a new winning streak on Saturday, August 8 at Road America, a road course where he finished in second place last year following two consecutive road course wins. The Henry 180 is set to be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET.