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For the second time in three races, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will visit a road course—this Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the running of the B&L Transport 170.
The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s Xfinity race at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit in Lexington, Ohio, but the series is back this year for its eighth appearance at the track.
Saturday’s race is scheduled for 75 laps (169.35 miles) and will be divided into three equal stages of 25 laps each. In 2019, Austin Cindric won the most recent running of an Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio.
|B&L Transport 170 Information|
|Race||B&L Transport 170 NASCAR Xfinity Series race|
|Location||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course|
|Time||Saturday, June 5, 1 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FS1|
When the NASCAR Xfinity Series ran its first race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2013, AJ Allmendinger was an unquestioned master of the road courses.
In 2012, he drove in the anchor position for the overall winners of the 50th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. A year later, at Mid-Ohio, Allmendinger didn’t disappoint. Driving the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, he won the inaugural race there by 1.164 seconds over Michael McDowell.
Allmendinger knows how to win at the track, and he’s willing to use his natural penchant for aggressive driving to get the job done.
“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,” says Allmendinger, who has claimed four of his six Xfinity victories—and his only NASCAR Cup Series win—on road courses.
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 out 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.
According to PointsBet Sportsbook, Allmendinger is tied for the second choice with part-time rookie Ty Gibbs at +360. Though Gibbs has been more than impressive in his limited appearances this season, we give the nod to AJ.
Reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric has won three races in 12 starts this season, though, surprisingly, not one of his victories has come on a road course.
If oddsmakers are right, that’s likely to change on Saturday, when Cindric defends his 2019 victory in the B&L Transport 170 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there was no race at Mid-Ohio in 2020.
In 2018, Cindric became the youngest pole winner at the track at 19 years, 11 months, nine days. A year later, he became the youngest race winner at 20 years, 11 months, eight days in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
For the third straight event at Mid-Ohio, Cindric will start from the pole, with the starting order being set this year by NASCAR’s metric qualifying formula. As the heavy favorite to win the race, Cindric (+145) simply must maintain track position, rather than improve it.
Besides Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger, the only other former Mid-Ohio winner in the field for Saturday’s race is Justin Allgaier, who beat Cindric to the checkers by 2.095 seconds in 2018.
Though he comes to NASCAR racing from a dirt-track background, the 34-year-old veteran from Riverton, Illinois, is a proficient road racer, having claimed three of his 16 victories on road courses.
In five starts at Mid-Ohio, Allgaier has scored four top 10s, including his 2018 win. At +800, Allgaier offers an attractive alternative to Cindric and Allmendinger. He will start fifth on Saturday, two positions are better than he did when he won three years ago.
A word of caution: there’s one statistic arguing against Cindric, Allmendinger, and Allgaier. The seven races at Mid-Ohio have produced seven different winners. If that trend continues, Ty Gibbs (+360)—already a road course winner this year at Daytona—might well be the choice.
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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