AJ Allmendinger climbs into his car before practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Allmendinger captures pole for Xfinity race at Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — AJ Allmendinger watched everyone else take their shots at his fast lap Saturday.

Then he waited to find out if it would hold up. It did.

The longtime Cup driver captured his first Xfinity Series pole of the season by posting a top speed of 97.744 mph on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. Points leader Austin Cindric will start second after going 97.389.

Allmendinger already has two wins this season but entered the weekend in second place, 80 points behind Cindric, the 22-year-old son of Team Penske President Tim Cindric.

Justin Haley, Justin Allgaier and Ty Gibbs round out the top five on the 36-car starting grid for the afternoon race. Eight cars did not qualify.

Allmendinger was part of last year’s Xfinity race, the first on the track’s road course. He finished fourth in a riveting finish, just ahead of Cindric. Now they’re back for another round.

It will be a busy weekend for the Cindric family on a rare crossover weekend that features three races from three different series on the same track.

The elder Cindric will call the race for two-time IndyCar champ Josef Newgarden in Saturday’s first race, the second Indianapolis Grand Prix of the season. Then Austin Cindric will try to pick up his fifth Xfinity win of the season.

On Sunday, the 22-year-old will be back on the track for Brickyard 200 qualifying. The race, run on the road course for the first time, is to start Sunday afternoon.