Motorsport News

AJ Allmendinger’s Dominant Day Undone by Late Race Drama at COTA

Nascar Xfinity Series

The three-peat wasn’t meant to be Saturday (March 23) at Circuit of the Americas for AJ Allmendinger.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro, tied for the most laps led with fellow Kaulig Racing Shane van Gisbergen. The two and Kyle Larson battled cleanly all day, unchallenged at the front of the field by others for the majority of the race.

Allmendinger, staying on the race winning strategy, sacrificed stage wins to Parker Kligerman and Riley Herbst in order to compete for the win against the two in a battle of road-racing mastery. Allmendinger restarted the final stage with the lead and looked to be pulling away at first, but van Gisbergen ran him down, passing the No. 16 with nine to go and began scooting away for what seemed to be his first career win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

“I thought SVG and I had the dominant cars,” Allmendinger said. “He was a little bit better on that last run there. I got too free, so we were probably going to come home one-two, and that was the way it was going to go.”

Or so he thought.

The race changed when Ed Jones spun, leaking oil on the track with four laps to go in regulation, sending the race into the second overtime finish of the day.

Allmendinger elected to restart on the bottom behind van Gisbergen and made the move to the middle of the track to battle for the lead, but Allmendinger would be caught on the outside off the racing line, forcing the California native back into heavy traffic and into Cup Series regular down to sixth around Kligerman and Cole Custer, battling into the esses that resulted in Allmendinger receiving a costly penalty.

The penalty became more severe when Herbst, Ryan Ellis, Leland Honeyman Jr. and Daniil Kvyat were involved in a multi-car pileup, brining out the caution for the final time of the day. This turned the penalty from a pass-through penalty to a tail of the longest line penalty

“Once the caution comes out in these late races, especially these road courses, anything could happen,” Allmendinger said. “So, you expect the worst and hope for the best, and we got the worst of it.”

Also under caution, him and Ty Gibbs ran into each other in what looked to be a disagreement on track.

“We got to talk about it,” Allmendinger said. “We were just racing. You’re racing for the win. Everybody’s on the edge and doing everything they can. I love Ty [Gibbs], and we’ll talk about it…

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