Allmendinger surprises with first NASCAR oval win at Atlanta
A rash of speeding penalties collected the top contenders and A.J. Allmendinger turned that opportunity into the first oval track victory of his NASCAR career.
During the final round of pit stops, Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe and Justin Allgaier – who all had contended for the win – were caught speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field on the final restart.
That left Allmendinger in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 130 of 163. He held off a serious challenge from last week’s winner, Noah Gragson, but held on for the win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“Matt Kaulig, if you’re listening, I love you,” Allmendinger said over his team radio as he took the checkered flag. “Thank you guys so much. All I ever wanted to do was win on a damn oval!”
The win is Allmendinger’s third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and fourth overall in NASCAR national series competition.
The three previous victories had all come on road course for Allmendinger, who started his career in open-wheel racing. He has been running a part-time schedule in the Xfinity Series this season.
“This car was awesome. It’s Atlanta and you’re trying to figure out how much tire to use early. The car was so good on long runs – the car was better than the driver,” Allmendinger said. “Once I got in the lead, I was just trying to hit my marks, which is hard to do.
“Matt Kaulig, you’re the man let’s party!”
Gragson finished second and collected the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus after overcoming a pit road penalty of his own. Justin Haley finished third, Daniel Hemric was fourth and Harrison Burton completed the top-five.
Allmendinger, Gragson, Haley and Hemric are all qualified to compete for the $100,000 bonus again next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Josh Williams spun in Turn 3 on Lap 98 after contact from Joe Graf Jr. to bring out a caution. Most of the lead-lap cars elected to pit but Michael Annett stayed out and inherited the lead. Briscoe was first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 103, Annett led the way followed by Briscoe, Allgaier and Cindric. Gragson had to start from the rear of the field for driving through too many pit boxes.
Cindric powered into the second spot shortly after the restart.
Vinnie Miller spun off Turn 2 on Lap 125 to bring out a caution. All the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Briscoe the first off pit road. However, Briscoe, Cindric and Allgaier were all penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.
That left Allmendinger as the new leader when the race returned to green on Lap 130. He was followed by Gragson, Haley and Brandon Jones. Allgaier restarted 24th, Briscoe 25th and Cindric 27th.
With 25 laps to go, Allmendinger held a 1.2-second lead over Gragson as Haley ran third.
With 15 laps remaining, Allmendinger had settled into a 1.7-second lead over Gragson while Haley remained in third. Of the three drivers who suffered speeding penalties on the previous stop, Allgaier had improved the most positions, running in eighth.
Cindric completed a sweep of the first two stages, holding off Briscoe for the Stage 2 victory.
Ross Chastain was third, Hemric fourth and Allmendinger completed the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Cindric the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 48, Cindric led the way followed by Chastain, Briscoe and Gragson. Haley had to restart from the rear for having a crew member over the wall too soon during his pit stop.
With 25 laps to go in the second stage, Cindric had built up a 2.5-second lead over Chastain while Gragson had moved into third.
On Lap 62, Briscoe moved into third, while Hemric took over the fourth spot and Gragson dropped to fifth.
Riley Herbst spun off Turn 2 on Lap 68 to bring out a caution. A handful of drivers elected to pit and Cindric continued to lead the way on the restart on Lap 74.
With five laps to go in the second stage, Cindric maintained a small lead over Briscoe while Chastain moved into third.
Cindric, on fresh tires, made short work of the field after his pit stops and cruised to the Stage 1 win, claiming victory by more than 9 seconds over Chastain.
Haley was third, Allgaier fourth and Hemric was fifth.
Gragson, who started on the pole due to a random draw, led the first five laps until Cindric got around him to take the lead on Lap 6.
On Lap 17, Tommy Joe Martins spun around on the backstretch to bring out a caution. NASCAR elected to designate this the competition caution. Most of the lead-lap cars remained on the track but Cindric and Briscoe pit.
On the restart on Lap 22, Haley led the way followed by Hemric, Allgaier and Gragson.
Cindric, who restarted 22nd on fresh tires, got up to second in four laps and reclaimed the lead on Lap 26.
With 10 laps remaining in the first stage, Cindric had built up a nearly 4-second lead over Chastain while Haley ran third, 4.8 seconds behind the leader.
Martins had to start the race from the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments after impound.
|19||36||Ronnie Bassett Jr.||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||18|
|20||4||Jesse Little||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||17|
|21||0||Jeffrey Earnhardt||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||16|
|22||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||15|
|23||99||Mason Massey||Toyota||162||1 lap||14|
|24||07||Garrett Smithley||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||13|
|25||6||B.J. McLeod||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||12|
|26||08||Joe Jr.||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||11|
|27||90||Alex Labbé||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||10|
|28||92||Josh Williams||Chevrolet||162||1 lap||9|
|29||93||Myatt Snider||Chevrolet||161||2 laps||8|
|30||5||Matt Mills||Chevrolet||161||2 laps||7|
|31||78||Vinnie Miller||Chevrolet||156||7 laps||6|
|32||47||Joe Nemechek||Chevrolet||129||34 laps|
|33||61||Timmy Hill||Toyota||87||76 laps|
|34||13||Chad Finchum||Toyota||50||113 laps||3|
|35||39||Ryan Sieg||Chevrolet||47||116 laps||2|
|36||66||Stephen Leicht||Toyota||8||155 laps||1|
|37||52||Kody Vanderwal||Chevrolet||3||160 laps||1|
Noah Gragson wrecks teammate, takes Bristol win in OT
Despite early season success, Noah Gragson "fighting for a job"