AJ Allmendinger continues victorious roll with triple-overtime Xfinity winner at Michigan

0 Comments

BROOKLYN, Michigan — AJ Allmendinger survived three overtime restarts Saturday to emerge as the Xfinity Series winner at Michigan International Speedway for his second consecutive NASCAR victory.

It’s the third victory of the season and second on an oval for the Kaulig Racing driver, who scored one of the biggest wins of his career last Sunday in the Cup Series race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Brandon Jones finished second, followed by Noah Gragson, Josh Berry and Harrison Burton.

STATS PACKAGE: Points and results after Michigan

“Wow, what a hell of a six days,” Allmendinger told NBC Sports pit reporter Dave Burns after a typically exuberant celebration that had the crowd chanting “AJ! AJ! AJ!” after he climbed the frontstretch catchfence. “Oh my goodness. This is what’s awesome, though, to have all the fans back. Indy last weekend was spectacular. Michigan, thank you guys. You guys make it fun.”

“I’m more tired from the celebrations than I am from driving.”

Allmendinger took the lead from Berry (who was driving in place of injured Michael Annett) on a restart with five laps to go when a caution sent the race into overtime.

Two more yellow flags before the white flag kept the pressure on the No. 16 Chevrolet, but Allmendinger held the lead for his eighth career victory in Xfinity by choosing the outside lane on the 2-mile oval for each restart.

“Front row, the outside was the place to be,” Allmendinger said. “You just had to be pushed. Brandon Jones, thank you so much. He pushed me every time.

“I don’t want to wake up from this dream.”

The race ended on Lap 139, 14 laps beyond its scheduled distance after the three attempts at a green-white-checkered that left the outcome in doubt for a race that already was up for grabs.

The list of contenders was thinned considerably by a Lap 37 caution for a wreck shortly after the restart to begin Stage 2.

Myatt Snider seemed to lose control of his No. 2 Chevrolet in Turn 2 and slid up the track under pressure on the bottom from Ty Gibbs.

Snider slammed into Brandon Brown and clipped points leader and Stage 1 winner Austin Cindric in a wreck that also collected Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley and Bubba Wallace.

“I watched the replay, and it sort of looked like a racing incident,” Snider told MRN. “I’m a little more confused now than in the race car. We had a really fast car, so it’s too bad we are out that early. These are the toughest pills to swallow when you have a really fast race car.”

Cindric’s No. 22 Ford lost its hood and was unable to make minimum speed after two attempts to fix nose damage and return to the track. The Team Penske driver, who won last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said his team just tried to get every point because “that never give up attitude is what wins championships.

“We just got collected in a wreck by the cars that decided to stay out” without pitting after the first stage, Cindric said. “Unfortunately, that is something you see often in this series. It is enough that I am not going to complain about it, you just have to understand it is possible. We had some guys get loose and spin out and I couldn’t miss them. I thought we had the fastest car out there today. In some ways,

“I feel like that is a bold statement coming from me but our guys did an amazing job on this Ford Mustang, and I wish we could have contended for the rest of the race because I think we would have had a shot.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Austin Cindric

STAGE 2 WINNER: AJ Allmendinger

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Brandon Jones tied his season-beset with his secnd runner-up finish this season. … Josh Berry led 25 laps in his first Xfinity start at Michigan in place of injured Michael Annett. … Harrison Burton rallied from a lap down for his fourth consecutive top 10, his longest streak of the season. … Jade Buford finished ninth for his first oval top 10 in the Xfinity Series. … Bubba Wallace was 10th in his first Xfinity start since 2017.

NEXT: The series will race Aug. 27 at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).