A.J. Allmendinger. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Lucky No. 2 On The Weekend For Allmendinger

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Though his car number may be 16 in both the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series, A.J. Allmendinger’s lucky number was 2 at Watkins Glen International. 

Allmendinger kicked off his double duty weekend with a stout second-place effort in the Xfinity race, padding his point lead in the series.

Then on Sunday, a rocky start for the Kaulig Racing driver turned into a fierce rally to finish one spot shy of his third Cup Series victory.

In both races at the 2.45-mile circuit, the driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet chased Kyle Larson to the checkered flag. 

Allmendinger rebounded from an early spin during the Go Bowling At The Glen. (HHP/Chris Owens)

“Finishing second sucks, let’s get that straight,” Allmendinger said. “But, when it’s to Kyle Larson, I’ve said it once and I’ve said it a thousand times, he’s the most badass driver on the planet right now, I don’t care what you put him in. He can go win and he showed it pretty much every day actually. It’s tough to finish second to him, but we were there.

“Yesterday (Saturday), we kind of got gifted a second place. Today (Sunday), we earned it. Honestly, I think it was the same deal. If I could’ve got in front of him, I don’t know if he passes me. We were pretty equal. It was just on different parts of the race track.”

After getting spun by Austin Cindric two laps into the Go Bowling At The Glen, Allmendinger had to win the strategy battle and use an aggressive approach to rebound from the incident.

“We had to fight hard getting spun early, use all the strategy,” Allmendinger said. “Honestly, it was probably one of the most fun race cars I’ve ever driven in my life. The thing was hooked up. (I) can’t thank everybody at Kaulig Racing and Action Industries and everybody that allows us to do this. God, it sucks finishing second, but it was a fun day.” 

The final restart with five laps to go gave Allmendinger an opening when Larson washed up into teammate Chase Elliott heading into turn one. 

Though for Allmendinger, it was difficult to position his car in the perfect spot to launch off of turn one, with contact from drivers all around. 

“I knew that they were gonna probably stove it down into the corner there, but you’re all getting shoved,” Allmendinger said. “I thought if I could get the car turned earlier, I had a chance. But I was getting run into from behind, too. So  I did everything I could. I was happy to kind of come out second and have a shot to be really be me and Kyle to go there and try and win the race.” 

In the closing laps, Allmendinger showed his nose to Larson multiple times, however, he couldn’t get close enough to give the No. 5 Chevrolet the bumper. 

“I could really get close to him through the bus stop and then I was a little bit too loose the last half of the race track,” Allmendinger explained. “He doesn’t really make any mistakes. I was pushing hard. These cars get aero-sensitive. That’s why I thought if I could get in front of him, I would probably be good. It is what it is and we had a shot to win a Cup race, so you can’t be too pissed off about it.”

Allmendinger’s second-place effort was his fourth of the season in a part-time effort in the Cup Series, and his seventh at the historic road course.