NASCAR on NBC podcast, Episode XXVI: A.J. Allmendinger


A.J. Allmendinger returns to his hometown track of Sonoma Raceway this weekend with the same winner’s confidence but a much different championship attitude.

After virtually needing a victory to qualify for the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup, the JTG Daugherty Racing driver said on this week’s NASCAR on NBC podcast that his No. 47 Chevrolet can make the 2016 playoffs on points this season – lessening the pressure of last year’s win or bust approach.

“By the time we came to Sonoma, we were already out of the points” last season, said Allmendinger, who was ranked 21st and 79 points behind the cutoff spot after 15 races last year. “That made Sonoma just that little bit more pressure knowing if you went there and won, it was great. But if you went there and finished second, it was a good day, but it really did nothing for us in points.

“This year, we’re right on that 16th place cutoff.”

Through 15 races this season, Allmendinger already has matched last year’s total for top 10s (three), including a season-best second at Martinsville Speedway. He is ranked 19th in the standings and a manageable 27 points behind Ryan Blaney, who holds the provisional cutoff spot for the Chase.

“Right now every week is a points race,” Allmendinger said. “It’ll make Sonoma a little bit easier knowing you come and have a solid day and finish second or third, that’s still big for us in the points. That’s how I look at this year. We’re stronger everywhere we’ve been.

“I don’t doubt Sonoma, even though we’ve had fast race cars the past two years, we’re not going to be stronger. I really feel confident that we will be, but it is a slightly different outlook than in the past. … You try and maximize each weekend. At this point last year, it wasn’t about maximizing Sonoma, it was about winning. Ultimately believe me, that is my goal. I would love to win my hometown race. I’d love for it to be a win. That’s still the ultimate goal, but it’s a slightly different outlook. If we have a 2nd or 3rd place finish, it makes a big difference in points, and that’s what we want.”

Last year, Allmendinger, whose lone Sprint Cup win in 2014 at Watkins Glen International catapulted him to the playoffs, swept the road-course pole positions at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. But he finished outside the top 20 in both because of mechanical problems.

“Last year we shot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “Our race cars, our attention to detail are a lot better.”

Allmendinger also discussed on the podcast:

–His racing roots in Northern California, and why the native of Los Gatos doesn’t have strong emotional attachments or memories of home;

–How his single-car team has been able to excel this season despite the odds;

–A poor round of golf with car owner Tad Geschickter that convinced him he had found the right team in Sprint Cup.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking below or download the AudioBoom app and listen there. You also can download and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here.

Stayed tuned for time cues to provide easy referencing while listening to the episode.

Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.