'I love this race track': AJ Allmendinger wins on IMS road course again, this time in Xfinity
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NASCAR Xfinity Series ran it's third race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Saturday afternoon. The race was won by last year's Verizon 200 winner, AJ Allmendinger, who held off Alex Bowman in the closing laps to seal his second win on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
"Any time you win at Indy it's a big deal, at least for me," said Allmendinger post-race. "This place is special. I love this race track."
The first stage of the race was relatively calm. Allmendinger was in control of the early laps, leading from the pole and stretching out to nearly a two-second lead prior to the first caution. Not long before the end of the first stage, Parker Kligerman had a brake failure at the end of Hulman Boulevard. Kligerman's car struggled to slow down and collided with Ryan Ellis' No. 44 Chevrolet. Both drivers were medically cleared in the incident, but Kligerman's race was finished. This triggered a full-course yellow that led to strategic pit stops. Allmendinger lost the lead and valuable track position after a slow stop during the caution period.
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Ty Gibbs, who will run in the Verizon 200 in relief of Kurt Busch, spent the first stage running in the top-5 and ultimately finishing the stage 6th. Gibbs' race however was derailed when he was spun by Josh Berry in Turn 1 of the first lap of Stage 2. Noah Gragson, the Stage 1 winner, collected damage on the same restart in a separate incident and was forced to pit for repairs, dropping him to the rear of the field. Gibbs' Stage 2 went from bad to worse when he was penalized for a commitment line violation during a scheduled pit stop.
Allmendinger, however, was able to rebound during the second stage and regained his lost track position. Allmendinger didn't win Stage 2, as he elected to pit prior to the stage break. Josh Berry won Stage 2 ahead of Alex Labbe and Kaz Grala. Allmendinger retook the lead on the ensuing restart.
Time was running out when the final stage began. On-track aggression became more common causing fenders to get bent and tempers to flare. Justin Allgaier picked up damage after a brush up with Sheldon Creed before Creed was spun by Ross Chastain. Chastain, driving for DGM Racing, has been in the center of controversy in the Cup Series over his aggressive driving style.
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As the race drew to a close, Allmendinger continued his stranglehold on the field. The win is Allmendinger's third of the year with the first two coming at Circuit of the Americas and at Portland. He finished 6th at Road America after starting last.
Allmendinger was humble after the race. The 40-year-old Californian reflected on the photo shoot with previous Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 winners stating that he he wasn't even the best person named AJ in the group in reference to racing legend AJ Foyt.
"That's the coolest picture I'm ever gonna have in my life," said Allmendinger. "And I got to be there because of something I accomplished, not because I snuck into the photo."
The win moves Allmendinger higher in the playoff seeding as he now has 3 victories on the season. Despite leading the points standings, Allmendinger is lower in the playoff seeding as Ty Gibbs has four wins to Allmendinger's three.
"No matter what you race here if you're able to win at this track, that's something that will last in your memories forever," Allmendinger said.