Motorsport News

New Sonoma, Same AJ Allmendinger

#16: AJ Allmendinger, Kaulig Racing, Action Industries Chevrolet Camaro

Top Dog: AJ Allmendinger

NASCAR wrapped up its FOX Sports portion of the broadcast schedule by heading out west to The Golden State of California for its annual trip to Sonoma Raceway (June 9).

However, this wasn’t the same Sonoma that teams have grown accustomed to over the years.

The track received a repave, its first pavement makeover in over two decades.

That new asphalt produced more grip, higher speeds and one of the wildest Sonoma races we’ve seen in a while. To give you a preview, the first two stages had a combined eight cautions, one short of the track record.

But while there were a lot of new aspects to the weekend, one thing remained the same: AJ Allmendinger‘s success at road course racing.

Allmendinger scored a sixth-place finish after strategy fell his way, allowing him to capitalize on the opportunity.

Starting in 11th, Allmendinger quickly cracked the top 10 before Denny Hamlin‘s engine expired on lap 3 to bring out the caution. By the next caution on lap 15, Allmendinger’s had reached eighth.

After pitting following the second caution, the Los Gatos, Calif. native restarted in 21st, avoided a melee in the esses and finished off the stage in 15th.

Once again, crew chief Travis Mack called Allmendinger to pit road under the stage break, setting him up in 31st for the restart. Chaos ensued with three cautions in just over 10 green flag laps, but the 42-year-old slipped through them all and rejoined the top 15. With several cars short pitting before the end of the stage and Allmendinger passing more cars, he wrapped up the second frame stoutly in fifth.

As strategy placed most of the race’s frontrunners mired back in traffic, track position worked in the No. 16’s favor, as Allmendinger reached third. Then, pit stops by the top two drivers saw the Californian take the lead at his home track for three laps.

Allmendinger made a pit stop and quickly engaged in a fierce battle with Kyle Busch, causing him to lose grip. Still, he cycled to fourth following green flag stops before losing a couple more spots down the stretch. Issues for both Busch and Martin Truex Jr. allowed Allmendinger to capture the top 10 result at his home track.

The showing matches Allmendinger’s best finish of the season and third top 10 in five starts. Just like his 2022 season, Allmendinger is excelling at his part-time Cup Series gig. In that year, he scored eight top 10s in 18 starts, more than his…

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