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AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric are a pair of bookends at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Driving the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske, Allmendinger won the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race there in 2013. Cindric, the reigning series champion, is the most recent winner there, also in a No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
Cindric’s victory came in 2019, before adjustments to the Xfinity Series schedule necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic removed Mid-Ohio from the 2020 slate of events.
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Cindric and Allmendinger — the latter now driving the No. 16 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing — are both expected to contend for the victory in Saturday’s B&L Transport 170 at the 2.258-mile road course (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Because of the difficulty in passing on the tight, technical course, Allmendinger favors an aggressive approach.
“You’ve got to make your own passing zones,” Allmendinger says. “It’s for sure a challenge to pass at this race track. With an Xfinity car, with the way the tires go away, from start to finish you get a big difference in lap times from the start of a run to the end of a run, so it gets a little easier to pass.
“If you get through Turn 1, you can get a good run up toward Turn 2, and you can make a passing zone out of that. At the end of the back straightaway, there’s a good passing zone there as well. In the infield, you’re kind of single file, (but) with our cars, you have the luxury of being able to use the bumpers a little bit and being able to force somebody into a mistake, if that’s what you have to do.”
Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports is the only other former Mid-Ohio winner in the field for Saturday’s race, having taken the checkered flag in the 75-lap event in 2018. Another potential contender is road course ace Miguel Paludo, who will drive the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet on Saturday.
“I’ve always really enjoyed racing at Mid-Ohio,” Allgaier says. “It’s a challenging-but-fun road course. We had a strong run just a couple weeks ago on the road course at COTA (a third-place finish), and I feel extremely confident that we will have that same kind of speed with our Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet on Saturday.
“It’s a big weekend for (sponsor) Brandt with Miguel back in the No. 8, so hopefully we can both have a strong day and battle it out for the win in the end.”
Preview notes: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has hosted seven NASCAR Xfinity Series races dating back to the inaugural event on August 17, 2013. The first Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio was won by Allmendinger driving for Team Penske. … The seven Xfinity races have produced four different pole winners, led by Sam Hornish Jr. with three poles (2014, 2016, 2017). … Austin Cindric leads all active Xfinity Series drivers in poles at Mid-Ohio with two (2018, 2019). … The seven Xfinity races at Mid-Ohio have also produced seven different winners — AJ Allmendinger (2013), Chris Buescher (2014), Regan Smith (2015), Justin Marks (2016), Sam Hornish Jr. (2017), Justin Allgaier (2018) and Austin Cindric (2019). … Jeremy Clements in the only driver to make all seven NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Mid-Ohio. … Chris Buescher (2014) and Justin Marks (2016) both won their first NASCAR national series race in the Xfinity Series at Mid-Ohio. … The youngest Xfinity winner at Mid-Ohio is Austin Cindric (08/10/2019 – 20 years, 11 months, 8 days) and the oldest is Sam Hornish Jr. (08/12/2017 – 38 years, 1 month, 10 days).