Three Big Stories: Bristol (XFINITY)

BRISTOL, Tenn. — It’s Bristol, baby!

The regular season for the NASCAR XFINITY Series concluded, Friday, in the most NASCAR way possible, with two drivers spinning at the finish line. Austin Cindric came up on the short-end of the finish. Justin Allgaier dominated the night, but sped on pit road.

Also, it’s great to see some semblance of normalcy in the campgrounds, again.

Without further adieu, here’s Three Big Stories from the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Three Big Stories: Bristol (XFINITY)

No. 1: The finish

BRISTOL, Tenn. – SEPTEMBER 17: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Barger Precast Chevrolet, celebrates as he assisted by the NASCAR safety after an incident at the finish line to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 17, 2021, in Bristol, Tennessee. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Cindric stood next to a white fence by the media bullpen outside pit stall No. 1 on the frontstretch, as beads of sweat covered his face. The reigning XFINITY Series champion lost the regular season title, in that spin with AJ Allmendinger.

“I’m surprised we were able to not cut a tire down in that situation,” he said, “but just a lot of hard racing and a lot of guys wanting to win the race.”

I’m surprised he didn’t cut a tire at all.

In the final two laps, Cindric hit/got hit five different times. And that’s before the spin at the line.

“Five Star Bodies definitely made their money’s worth today,” he said.

The final two laps encapsulated the beating and banging that fans crave with short track racing. And that’s not even including Josh Berry putting Cindric in the wall, while fighting for the lead, or Cindric almost slamming into the back of Ryan Sieg.

This finish will go down in the annals of great Bristol moments.

Three Big Stories: Bristol (XFINITY)

No. 2: Justin Allgaier’s night

BRISTOL, Tenn. – SEPTEMBER 17: Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 BRANDT Chevrolet, spins in front of Joe Graf Jr., driver of the #07 Chevrolet, Brandon Gdovic, driver of the #26 SnapMobile.Shop Alternate Toyota, and Daniel Hemric, driver of the #18 Poppy Bank Toyota, during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 17, 2021, in Bristol, Tennessee. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Allgaier slouched over the white fence, with his left foot resting on the bottom and hands held together.

He was disappointed he turned Sam Mayer in the closing laps.

“I saw the lapped cars up there,” he said. “We had tried to get by and tried to get by. I felt like we hopefully had a good enough car if there was a caution to come out we could battle Austin if we were in second there and just had a run on the front straightaway.”

He planned to pin Mayer behind lap traffic and drive underneath him. Mayer, however, turned in on him and Allgaier spun him.

“Just disappointing,” he said. “I hate that we got together. I’ve been on the other end of that here at Bristol and it’s disappointing. I feel terrible for Sammy. He did a great job tonight. He ran a fantastic race and we should have finished second (or) third unfortunately.”

In fact, Allgaier was “on the other end of that” in this same race.

On Lap 154, while leading, he came up across the nose of Joe Graf Jr., got loose and spun down the track in Turn 1.

He rebounded to finish second in Stage 2, but he was busted for speeding on pit road. So he worked his way back up through the field and finished the night in fourth.

Allgaier’s night was the definition of an elevator ride.

Three Big Stories: Bristol (XFINITY)

No. 3: Some semblance of normalcy

BRISTOL, Tenn. – SEPTEMBER 17: Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, and Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 BRANDT Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 17, 2021, in Bristol, Tennessee. Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

As I departed the press box and walked to my car in Lot B, the aroma of campfires permeated the hallways. When I peeked out the open windows, I saw the lights of campers and campfires.

I thought back to July 2020. I worked the XFINITY Series double-header at Kentucky Speedway. Which was a fan-less race weekend.

That was the creepiest and most jarring race(s) I’ve ever worked, and I hope I never experience another situation like that, again.

Yes, the campgrounds at Bristol aren’t as jam-packed as yesteryear. Yes, the attendance numbers at the Last Great Coliseum aren’t what they used to be.

With that said, however, I’ll take half-full campgrounds over none at all, any day of the week.

TOP IMAGE: Logan Riely/Getty Images