AJ Allmendinger made a mistake and owned up to it.
The mistake was making contact with and sending Kyle Larson nose-first into the wall near the pit entrance at Watkins Glen International as the checkered flag waved in the Cheez-It 355.
Allmendinger streaked by Larson and the spinning car of Martin Truex Jr. to a fourth-place finish, his second top five of the season. Larson finished 29th.
Allmendinger, the 2014 winner at WGI, had hoped to win again to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup but was anything but happy with himself on pit road.
“I can’t say sorry enough,” Allmendinger said. “It doesn’t help the case, I spun him out. I didn’t mean to spin him out. ”
Allmendinger saw Martin Truex Jr. being spun by Brad Keselowski as they exited Turn 7, and dove to Larson’s right hoping to initiate a “drag race” to the checkered flag.
“(Larson) was turning to come back down, but it was my fault,” Allmendinger said. “I tried to cut under him off of the last corner and the No. 78 was coming back across the race track. I was under him. He turned and I just clipped him.”
Larson has been in position earn his fifth top-five finish of the season before his No. 42 Chevrolet wound up crumpled on pit road.
“(Allmendinger) is always aggressive,” Larson said. “I figured he would be smart. Obviously, (Truex Jr.) was spinning in front of us. That is a free spot for both of us and just dumped me. He had already ran me down to the front stretch wall once with about 15 to go or so. Pretty dumb move right there too, but I was the smarter one racing for points, lifted, could have wrecked him, but didn’t. I don’t know. He wrecked me earlier in the year at Vegas. He has ran me hard, but we always race pretty well, but today was flat out stupid.”
But Allmendinger continued to beat himself up over the incident, which resulted in Larson limping across the start-finish line via pit road to avoid his third DNF of the season.
“I’m just not very happy with myself on that,” Allmendinger said. “I don’t want to do that, especially for fourth place. And he did a great job. It’s on me. I never meant to do it. It’s not going to help the case. I know he’s going to be pissed off and he should be pissed off. I’d be.”
Larson started the race in second and Allmendinger in ninth. Larson had drifted back in the pack throughout the race while Allmendinger had fought his No. 47 Chevrolet back from a speeding penalty on Lap 26.
“I fought hard to get back and restarts, I was aggressive, but I was going to be okay with that,” Allmendinger said. “I don’t want to race like that. If we’re going for the win, it’s all good. But not like that. I just cost Kyle a good finish. I’m just pissed off at myself.”
Neither Larson and Allmendinger have qualified for the Chase and now Larson is 15th in the point standings, eight points up from the cutoff. Allmendinger is 19th in the standings, 26 points behind Trevor Bayne in 16th. Allmendinger has only four races left to win or earn his way into the Chase via points.