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AJ Allmendinger is Fading Into Obscurity

#16: AJ Allmendinger, Kaulig Racing, Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet Camaro

When Kaulig Racing announced AJ Allmendinger would compete full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season, it raised some eyebrows. While Allmendinger moved over to Xfinity, Daniel Hemric moved up to Kaulig’s NASCAR Cup Series team.

The team’s second Cup car has run a rotating cast of characters that includes Allmendinger along with Derek Kraus, Ty Dillon, Josh Williams and Shane van Gisbergen.

Rumors are swirling about Kaulig potentially merging with another team. The implications of that could heavily impact Allmendinger. He’s sworn loyalty to Kaulig and has been a good soldier. If the team were to merge with another or go away completely, how can we be certain there would still be a ride for the ‘Dinger? Could his loyalty come back to bite him, resulting in no chairs left to sit in when the music stops?

Switching Allmendinger and Hemric was questionable, but reported to be understandably based on sponsorship. Kaulig lost one of its biggest sponsors, Nutrien Ag Solutions after the 2022 season. After 2023, it lost the partners Chandler Smith took with him to Joe Gibbs Racing. Despite what could easily be viewed as a demotion on a team that had seemed to have peaked, there was a silver lining for 42-year-old Allmendinger: the opportunity to win races and a championship.

Through the first third of this Xfinity season, Allmendinger has been an also-ran, looking nothing like a threat for the Championship 4, let alone the actual title. Through 11 races he remains winless with only one finish in the top five, at Texas Motor Speedway of all places.

The Los Gatos, Calif., native did have a strong run going early in the season at Circuit of the Americas. He led 20 laps and was heading toward a second-place finish behind van Gisbergen. In the first of two overtimes, Allmendinger was penalized for cutting the esses. He had to restart 26th and rebounded to salvage 10th.

COTA aside, he’s led just 12 laps on the rest of the season. For some perspective, the last time Allmendinger ran full time in Xfinity was 2022. That year he led a total of 142 laps in seven of that season’s first 11 events.

So why the regression? At 42 years old, is Allmendinger just hitting his inevitable decline in performance? Based on his early dominance at COTA and strong run at Texas, I think we can rule that out.

Has the depth of the Xfinity field improved so much that Allmendinger can no longer compete regularly inside the top five…

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