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News

AJ Allmendinger wins wild NASCAR Xfinity race at Charlotte ROVAL

CONCORD, N.C. – AJ Allmendinger stole the thunder from a series of intense battles among NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff drivers to win Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

Allmendinger muscled his way past series leader Christopher Bell as the cars climbed from the infield section onto the banking on Lap 48 of 67 and held the top spot through three subsequent restarts in the action-filled second race of the Xfinity Round of 12.

The road course ace scored his third victory in 16 starts in his series, finishing 2.386 seconds ahead of Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick during a three-lap run to the finish.

“Whooo! Damn, I’m tired—thank you everybody!” Allmendinger said during a postrace interview beneath the flag stand. “I can’t thank (owner) Matt Kaulig enough, first of all. He put his belief in me, wanting me to come here and help build this team.

“I have to thank Tyler Reddick– he’s phenomenal. He told me when I got here I needed to get better on the road courses, because he out-qualified me in every race lately and even beat me in a couple.

“I knew with him behind me (for the last two restarts), I could be defensive on the right side and give myself an angle, and Tyler wouldn’t shove down in there. I appreciate that. I tried to change the restarts up enough each time, but you can only do so much. I knew once we got into clear air, this thing was good. In traffic, it was a struggle.”

For the final two restarts, Allmendinger lined up next to Playoff driver Austin Cindric, who broke a rear shock and lost the runner-up position to Reddick on the penultimate lap. Cindric held third over Justin Allgaier, with Noah Gragson securing the fifth position after starting from the rear of the field in a backup car.

“I wish I had a chance to fight the 10 (Allmendinger) there at the end, but under caution I felt a shock mount break,” Cindric said. “The right-rear shock was clean off the race car before I even restarted the race, so I’m glad I didn’t wreck, and I’m glad I finished third.

“I guess all of that is positive, but at the same time, I felt like we had a good shot, especially if the thing would have gone green, to try to pressure him into a mistake or getting a good lunge, but, all in all, a great points day, a great day for the MoneyLion Ford Mustang. We’ve got to keep it going this way.”

While Allmendinger was enjoying the clean air at the front of the field, the top drivers in the Xfinity Playoffs were busy salvaging respectable finishes from a litany of troubles.

After giving up the lead to Allmendinger, Bell drew a penalty for blowing the final chicane while racing side-by-side with Chase Briscoe, but not before contact between their two cars sent Briscoe spinning between Turns 2 and 3 on Lap 58.

Already qualified for the next round of the Playoffs after last week’s victory at Richmond, Bell recovered from a rear-of-the-field penalty to finish 12th and maintained a 10-point advantage Cole Custer, who came home eighth after spinning in Turn 1 during a multicar mashup on Lap 44. Despite the wild day, Custer was able clinch a spot in the Round of 8 on points.

After his spin on Lap 58, Briscoe charged through traffic to finish ninth and heads for next week’s elimination race at Dover sixth in the standings—46 points behind Bell but 35 ahead of ninth place John Hunter Nemechek, who ran seventh on Saturday. The Playoff field will be cut from 12 drivers to eight at Dover.

Nemechek is 11 points behind Michael Annett in eighth place, tied with Brandon Jones (16th Saturday). Ryan Sieg finished 30th after suffering fuel pressure issues and enters the Dover race 37 points below the cut line. Justin Haley, Allmendinger’s Kaulig Racing teammate broke a track bar mount early in the race and finished 31st, six laps down and 39 points behind Annett.

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NASCAR Cup Series

A Few Key Drivers Left with Significant Finishes After ROVAL

Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ended with a breathtaking ending that had some drivers appalled with their Playoff results.

Fans witnessed one of the craziest finishes in NASCAR history and the talk after the event was the last lap and the Playoff results going into the round of 12.

Ultimately, there were a few drivers that ended the race with a strong result that was much needed.

Jamie McMurray scored a second-place finish, which is crucial as it was announced in early September that his 12th-full time season with Chip Ganassi Racing would be last with them.

After missing the Playoffs, McMurray did everything in his control to stay out of trouble at the ROVAL. Although he did not finish in the top-10 at the end of the first two stages, McMurray was in the right place at the end of the event.

The 42-year-old captured his second top-five finish of the season.

“Yeah, our DC Solar Chevy was really good all day long,” McMurray said. “We got a little bit off in the last pit sequence. We got a little bit behind, but had a really good car and then we had the one restart when Brad (Keselowski) was on the front row and I happened to be on the inside and that was the lane to be in so you could avoid the wreck.”

Luck was on a few drivers side this past Sunday and McMurray was one of those that took full advantage of it.

As the season winds down, McMurray may be one of the drivers without a ride next year and his performance at Charlotte and the upcoming weekends may open opportunities for the veteran.

Last week, it was announced that AJ Allmendinger would not be returning to JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger brought the team its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and handled the situation with much positivity and honesty when he met with the media.

“Nobody likes being without a job,” he said. “The possibility of not having a paycheck coming can be scary. But change can also be a very good thing. The more time I sit and think about it and talk about it with my family, it’s literally been a year and a half I’ve not been happy. We’ve struggled (as a team). It hasn’t been fun. It’s hard on everybody.”

The 36-year-old put the busy news week behind him and got off to a hot start on Friday at the ROVAL. Allmendinger qualified second and was looking like he was in route to having a promising weekend and maybe capturing the win. After surviving the race and a couple strong restarts, Allmendinger finished seventh in the inaugural event.

Rumors circling the garage are that Allmendinger is either going to run Sports Cars or join the Verizon Indy Car Series. But whatever is in Allmendinger’s future, finishing the season off with momentum will be a boost in wherever he is racing next year.

Another driver that had a key finish was Grass Valley, California’s Matt DiBenedetto. The 26-year-old captured his sixth top-20th finish of the season at the mysterious ROVAL.

Mysterious it was for DiBenedetto.

DiBenedetto was of those drivers that never tested at the track and went into the weekend with knowledge from a simulator.

As crazy as that sounds, DiBenedetto stated in his race recap video that his No. 32 Superior Logistics Services Ford Fusion had speed which lead him to a 13th place finish.

DiBenedetto announced in early September that he would be leaving Go Fast Racing at the end of the season. Strong finishes with the No. 32 team to end the year off could be huge for DiBenedetto and possibly have an impact on the future of his career.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary

RAPID REACTION: GEICO 500

The unpredictability of restrictor plate racing that excites fans and keeps drivers on edge throughout the event produced one of the wildest races in recent years at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.

Through the “big one” that collected 16 cars, an Overtime finish, and a first-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner, the 2.66-mile oval showcased all that it’s known for in the GEICO 500.

For the First Time

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. entered Talladega following the best start to a season in his career, finishing in the top-10 four times through the first nine races. He continued to demonstrate his car’s speed and strength throughout the weekend by winning the pole and capturing his first career victory.

Through 157 starts, the 29-year-old’s best result of second came twice at Bristol in 2014 and 2016. He has performed well at Talladega before, scoring his first career top-five at the track in October 2013.

The improved performance out of Roush-Fenway Racing this season allowed the No. 17 Ford to remain up front throughout the race. Stenhouse Jr. then made the right move on the last lap to pass Kyle Busch and celebrate in Victory Lane.

The ‘Big One’ Strikes

The GEICO 500 was relatively clean for much of the afternoon before trouble struck with 20 laps to go. While running second, Chase Elliott received a bump from behind by AJ Allmendinger, and it sent Elliott spinning into the oncoming pack.

Both Elliott’s and Allmendinger’s cars were lifted off the ground, with Elliott’s landing on all four-wheels and Allmendinger’s resting on its lid. 

Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski had three of the strongest cars in the field and were also among the drivers collected. Keselowski and Harvick made repairs and continued, but last October’s Talladega winner Logano went to the garage.

All competitors involved walked away safely.

Making the Right Call

Green flag pit stops are challenging at restrictor plate tracks as teams must communicate with other crews to ensure multiple cars pit at the same time to allow for drafting help off of pit road.

Kyle Busch worked this strategy to perfection during his final stop of the day as he went from running outside the top-10 to leading once all cars cycled through.

Busch maintained the top spot until the final lap when Stenhouse Jr. passed by, and he was unable to challenge for the lead again, ultimately placing third.

Not His Day

After narrowly avoiding the 16-car crash on Lap 169, Dale Earnhardt Jr. looked to be in a position to contend for the victory in the closing laps.

However, once the race resumed, he reported a loose wheel and made an unscheduled pit stop that put him a lap down. When the second to last caution came out with 10 laps to go, he earned the free pass and a chance to mount a final charge to the front.

With the field running three and four-wide ahead of him, he was unable to make up much ground and finished 22nd.

He will now have one final opportunity to capture a seventh victory at his best track on the schedule when the series returns to Talladega in October.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

AJ Allmendinger Records Another Strong Martinsville Finish

AJ Allmendinger picked up his second top-10 finish of 2017 in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, his third consecutive at the half-mile.

The driver of the No. 47 started 30th and methodically raced his way into contention, recording a sixth-place finish. After the event, Allmendinger attributed his success to his road course background.

“It’s for sure a little bit like road course racing,” Allmendiner told POPULAR SPEED. “I just think driver can make a bit more of a difference here.  You know, get to the mile-and-a-half, two mile racetracks, aero is a lot of it.  That’s something we’re continuously working on.  We worked hard on the west coast swing.  We learned a lot.  Finishes didn’t show it but felt like we learned a lot aero-wise for those bigger racetracks.  Coming here, it’s just about, got to have a good car.  This car was freaking hooked up.  Once we got it right, long runs, it was just an awesome racecar.”

Allmendinger added this was the first race back for crew chief Randall Burnett, who got suspended for three races due to a lug nut violation at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Can’t thank everyone at Kroger, Click List, all of our associates, everybody at the shop, Randall Burnett, have him back after the suspension,” he added.  “I wish we would have stayed green for about 120 laps because I think I could have ate these guys alive.  All in all, solid day.”

While he leaves Martinsville pleased, Allmendinger feels there is still work to be done before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway.

“Texas is so different, brand new racetrack now,” Allmendinger stated.  “More aero-dependent.  We’ve got to work on it.  These Cup races, they’re hard to have great runs in.  So, any time you can have a great run, especially after the west coast swing, the penalty, all that, any time you get a good run, it’s important.”

Allmendinger unofficially sits 26th in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points after Sunday’s STP 500.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News

Suspensions, Points Penalties Levied Following Atlanta

Following last weekend’s NASCAR event Atlanta Motor Speedway, three teams have been handed down penalties.

The No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing team of AJ Allmendinger was assessed an L1-level penalty for lug nuts not properly installed following Sunday’s Cup Series races.

Allmendinger’s crew chief Randall Burnett was fined $65,000 and has been suspended for the next three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. The team was also docked 35 owner’s and driver’s points. The penalty drops Allmendinger from 11th to 35th in the driver’s standings heading into this weekend’s race at Las Vegas.

The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing XFINITY Series team was assessed an L1 penalty for failing to meet ride height requirements following Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at Atlanta.

Crew chief Scott Graves was fined $10,000 and was suspended for this weekend’s XFINITY Series race at Las Vegas. The No. 18 team was also docked 10 owner’s series points. Additionally, it makes the race victory an “encumbered finish,” meaning playoff-point perks from the win are meaningless in the XFINITY Series Owner’s Points  Standings as part of NASCAR’s new rules for 2017.

The No. 23 GMS Racing Truck Series team, which finished fifth with Chase Elliott, also was penalized following Saturday’s Truck Series race at Atlanta.

Crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz was fined $5,000 and suspended from the next Camping World Truck Series points race after the truck failed to meet post-race ride height requirements. Additionally, the team was assessed a safety violation for having lug nuts improperly installed. Stankiewicz was fined an additional $2,500 for that violation.

EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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NASCAR Cup Series

ALLMENDINGER: “It Was Just A Solid Speedweeks”

While 35 of the 40 drivers got caught up in at least one crash during the race, and 15 of those found their days done early in the garage, A.J. Allmendinger wasn’t among those drivers – which was a nice change of pace compared to the past couple of years.

Over the previous five years, every trip to Daytona International Speedway except last July has resulted in a finish of 20th or worse (last July he finished 13th). It also seemed every year when they came down for Speedweeks, he wrecked in practice or Duel, forcing the team to unload a backup car. Instead, he managed to avoid all three big wrecks today en route to a third place finish.

“If you don’t win, it doesn’t feel like an achievement. It’s just a solid day,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “The last couple of years here, we’ve come out with 20th-place finishes and went to our backup car every time. It was just a solid Speedweeks, and that was a bigger deal.”

Throughout the race, Allmendinger ran towards the middle to the back of the field, keeping himself in contention but not up there dicing for the lead. After completing the second segment in sixth for four points, he managed to thread the needle through the second half of the event, missing both wrecks which took out over 10 cars apiece.

With many of his fellow contenders eliminated, Allmendinger worked his way back into the top-10, poised for a strong result. Knowing he lacked the outright speed compared to his competitors, he made the decision to ride as the laps closed near the end, saving fuel.

“I knew everybody was close,” he said. “I knew my best chance to have a good result was to sit there and try to run half throttle. Stay in line and not let anybody kind of slide up. Every time Ryan (Blaney) and Joey (Logano) would make a move, I tried to keep the gap close. I was just kind of holding half throttle there. And knowing this would probably come down to fuel or if somebody tried to check up in front of us, who could miss it.”

It worked out as he had enough fuel at the end, unlike some of his competitors, allowing him to break into the top-five and finish third.

Now Allmendinger will look to carry the momentum into the next couple of weeks, where Allmendinger feels his team can do well after having a fast car there last year despite a bad finish.

“These races are hard to get great finishes in. Any time you get one, you take it. It helps a ton,” he said. “The Daytona 500, it’s the biggest. It’s at least a kickstart into Atlanta for our team knowing we don’t have to do anything crazy. We just keep doing what our jobs are and see where we fall into place, see where that is.”

*Jason Schultz contributed to this article

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News

Truex, JTG Teammates Fail Post Duel Inspection

The first official race of the season is not in the books yet, and there’s already technical inspection issues as three drivers failed technical inspection following the Can-Am Duels.

Martin Truex Jr., along with JTG Daughtry teammates A.J. Allmendinger and Chris Buescher each were found too low in the inspection. As a result, all three will start from the back of the field for the Daytona 500, and any points earned in the Can-Am Duels are taken away.

Truex finished the first Duel in seventh (13th starting spot for Daytona 500), which would’ve given him four points, while Buescher finished 16th (32nd starting spot for Daytona 500) which equates to no points. Allmendinger was in the second Duel, posting a fourth place finish (eighth starting spot for Daytona 500) which would’ve equaled seven points.

For Truex, it marks a continuation of inspection issues his Furniture Row Racing team has faced throughout Daytona Speedweeks so far. He only made three laps in The Clash practice as a result of being stuck in pre-inspection, while both he and teammate Erik Jones only made a couple runs in pre-Daytona 500 qualifying practice due to not passing inspection.

The issues this past weekend resulted in Truex’s crew chief Cole Pearn, as well as other crew members, returning to the team’s home base to adjust the grid they have in the shop, so future cars do not face the same problem.

“It’s been a big issue,” Truex said on Wednesday. “It’s just definitely a setback that you don’t want this early in the season, especially for us. We were building all new cars because we changed the body style this year.”

Furniture Row Racing GM Joe Garrone stated on Sunday that the team was not trying to panic as they “have plenty of time. We know now what we have to do back at the shop, we’ll move forward.”

Truex is no stranger to starting at the back of the Great American Race, though. He began last year’s Daytona 500 at the back following a wreck in his Duel. The starting position didn’t hold him back, though, as he challenged for the race lead throughout the race, losing by a nose at the line to Denny Hamlin.

Meanwhile, this marks the first inspection issue for JTG of the season since making a move from a single-car team to two cars for 2017. The Daytona 500 hasn’t treated Allmendinger and Buescher well in the past, though, with Buescher crashing out last year in his first attempt while Allmendinger only has two top-10s in 15 starts.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – A.J. Allmendinger

A.J. Allmendinger is one of those drivers who may take in the off-season for all it’s worth, and be thankful for a reset going into next year after a frustrating season.

 

Car No.: 47

Crew Chief: Randall Burnett

Team: JTG Daugherty Racing

Wins: 0

Top-Fives: 2

Top-10s: 9

Points Finish: 19th

2016 Quick Summary: For Allmendinger, the season certainly didn’t start out as planned with only one top-10 finish in the first four races. However, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope when he was able to finish eighth at Auto Club Speedway, followed by a runner-up at Martinsville Speedway. For the California, it marked his first top-10 finish since the summer of 2015.

“I feel like we’ve been at our best at the end of the races,” Allmendinger said post-race at Martinsville. “We’ve maximized. That’s the biggest thing we said – if we just maximize our finishes … that’s what you have to do. In Atlanta, we had some problems. I’ve really felt like the last four races we’ve been able to put together whole races. Fontana and here, we had really fast race cars. We’re getting there. There are ups and downs. This is a long season. The biggest thing, especially with a team like ours, is when you have a good race car; you’ve got to capitalize on it. Fortunately, today we were able to do that.”

Though while there seemed to be a glimmer of hope, it never paid off into the results in which Allmendinger had hoped for with only one top-10 – eighth at Kansas Speedway – in the next 13 races. As a result, the frustration mounted, and in the summer, it came out in a series of interviews.

The hope would return, however, as Allmendinger followed up those races with four straight top-15s, including a fourth at Watkins Glen. It looked as though Allmendinger was going to win at the Glen, too.

The driver of the No. 47 Kroger/Kingsford Chevrolet SS quickly put himself inside the top-five in the early stages and looked to be set to challenge for the victory. However, a speeding violation at Lap 27 resulted in Allmendinger being mired back deep in the field. The road course ace dug himself out of the hole, working his way back into the top-10 in the late stages. Through the final four restarts in the final 25 laps, Allmendinger ran as high as third at one point. He ended up crossing the finish line in fourth.

The small glimmer of hope would result in a mixed series of results for Allmendinger in the final 12 races to close the season as he posted four top-10s, including a pair of eighths.

2016 Highlight(s): The runner-up at Martinsville Speedway and the drive back through the field at Watkins Glen proved Allmendinger can still get the job done, despite his last win coming in 2014.

2016 Lowlight(s): As noted above, the long streak through the summer with only one top-10 in 13 races, resulting in frustration for Allmendinger.

2017 Outlook: While Allmendinger struggled throughout the season, he was able to pull together four top-10s in the last 12 races. As a result, it could appear JTG is en route to finding the missing piece of the puzzle. It’s just a matter of whether it’ll pay off when the season starts.

However, there’s another twist as the team will expand to two cars, with Chris Buescher driving the second entry. With the results questionable throughout the year, it has some wondering whether the move will pay off for the organization. It’ll depend on how quickly they get things quickly, and how well they utilize their partnership with Richard Childress Racing.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

 

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XFINITY

Questions Abound for RCR’s XFINITY Program in 2017

When it comes to this year’s Silly Season and Richard Childress Racing, it seems most of the questions focus on the Sprint Cup Series.

One of the biggest questions is whether Cup-bound Ty Dillon will race for his grandfather’s RCR team or Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. So far this year, Dillon has made Cup starts for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing, which has a technical alliance with RCR. The next biggest question for RCR is, if Ty does join brother Austin Dillon driving for RCR in Cup, what does that mean for Ryan Newman? Could RCR expand to four cars in 2017 or could Newman be the odd man out?

However, the question no one seems to be asking is what does RCR intend to do with its XFINITY program in 2017? With Ty Dillon heading to Cup next year, that takes away perhaps the strongest point of RCR’s XFINITY program. In each of the last three years, Dillon has been a strong contender for a championship.

A move for Ty Dillon to Cup, no matter which team he drives for, would create a gaping hole in RCR’s XFINITY program, one compounded by a possible retirement by Brendan Gaughan. A fixture with RCR since 2012, Gaughan is now 41, and many say his father, Michael, wants him to retire and could withdraw his South Point Casino sponsorship at the end of 2016.

There is a bit of a youth movement at RCR with the arrival of Brandon Jones. After sharing rides with Austin Dillon and Paul Menard in 2015, Jones was given a full-time ride in the #33 for RCR this year. This season, he has eight Top 10s. Jones is pretty much a lock to continue to drive for RCR next year.

RCR’s fourth entry, the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro, has featured a multitude of drivers in 2016 including the elder Dillon, Menard, Sam Hornish, Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Michael McDowell and Ben Kennedy. While such an “All-Star lineup” could continue in 2017 (not unlike JR Motorsports’ No. 88 entry), that could also open the door for RCR to bring someone like Kennedy up to the XFINITY Series full-time next year. Kennedy currently races full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, where he sits 9th in points while competing for GMS Racing, which has a technical alliance with RCR.

What may hurt RCR in its hunt to fill XFINITY seats in 2017 is their lack of a Truck program. Both of the Dillons spent time in the series before moving up, with Austin winning the series championship in 2011. Unfortunately, Richard Childress Racing eliminated their Camping World Truck Series program in 2013, which means they must go elsewhere to find XFINITY series talent.

With only one seat spoken for (Jones), another dependent on a postponed retirement (Gaughan) and a third being used for Cup regulars, there are as many questions for RCR regarding their XFINITY program as there are for their Cup program for 2017.

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Categories
Development Journalists

Larson on Allmendinger: ‘Flat Out Stupid’

Kyle Larson had  a promising day going during the Cheez-It 335 at Watkins Glen – till the final corner on the last lap.

He started second and was poised for a solid finish until disaster struck.  Larson’s potential top five finish was ruined in a matter of seconds after A.J. Allmendinger spun him out coming into turn 7.  Rather than finishing fourth, Larson finished 29th. 

“We were about a 10th place car, and we were going to get a top five day out it,” Larson said. “We were running sixth coming to turn 7; the No. 47 was behind me. He is always aggressive. I figured he would be smart. Obviously, the No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr) was spinning in front of us. That is a free spot for both of us, and he just dumped me.”       

Allmendinger was not pleased with himself after the race, apologizing to Larson,  saying he did not mean to turn him on purpose.    

“The No. 78 started to spin, and Kyle and I were racing for fifth there,” he said. “He defended on the inside, which he should have. And I  tried to cut under him off of the last corner, and No. 78 was coming back across the race track. I was under him. He turned. And I just clipped him.”

The apology didn’t mean anything to Larson, who made it clear that payback would be coming.

“He wrecked me earlier in the year at Vegas,” Larson said. “He has ran me hard, but we always race pretty well, but today was flat out stupid. It just sucks they are going to have start building some more race cars because he has got a few coming.”

Following his first finish outside the top-20 since Kansas, Larson is 16th in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship Sprint Cup Series standings, only eight points ahead of Trevor Bayne for the last spot. It’s worth noting if Chris Buescher crack the top-30 in points, Larson will drop outside of the Chase to 17th due to Buescher having a win this year. Notably, the Chip Ganassi team lost 25 points because of the spin.  

Despite Sunday’s disappointment, the No. 42 team should not hit the panic button just yet as with only four races to go before the Chase starts it is still possible for the team to make it in on points. But if he could win, it’d be a blessing as it’d take the pressure off with him being locked in.

Larson is still searching for his first win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and could get it in the next two races  Bristol and Michigan. His best finish at Bristol is seventh, and his best finish at Michigan came back in June when he finished third.

Emily Spink is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.