July 30, 2022:  at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN  (HHP/Jim Fluharty)
(HHP/Jim Fluharty)

Allmendinger Conquers Indy Road Course For Xfinity Win

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – In a race dominated by current and former NASCAR Cup Series drivers, A.J. Allmendinger once again found victory lane on a road course, handily winning Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Kaulig Racing driver led 43 of the race’s 62 laps around the 14-turn course, including the final 18. The effort gave Allmendinger his second consecutive NASCAR win on the IMS road course after he won last year’s inaugural Cup event.

He defeated Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman by two seconds.

“God, I love this place!” Allmendinger declared on the frontstretch afterward. “Indy, baby! Let’s go! … We’ve struggled, we’ve worked hard to get a little bit better. The Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevy was really good. I knew Bowman was really good on the long run, so I tried to gap him as much as I could.”

Allmendinger’s victory – his third of the season, and all on road courses – came after he lost the lead in the first stage due to an issue changing his right-rear tire during the first caution of the race.

He wouldn’t retake the lead until the final restart with 18 to go. Restarting behind Bowman, Allmendinger dove to his inside and cleared the No. 17 Chevy right as the field reach Turn 1.

“I was definitely too nice, right?” Bowman said on pit road. “I left him in room in (Turn) 1 and he left me zero room in (Turn) 2. That’s just hard racing. I think he was turning enough better than us on that restart that he was probably going to pass me off of (Turn) 14.”

For Bowman, it was his first Xfinity Series start since 2018 and his first top five since he won the 2017 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Among the three drivers behind Bowman were two other Cup drivers, Ross Chastain in fourth and Chase Briscoe in fifth.

Including Allmendinger, the only driver in the top five who won’t race in Sunday’s Cup race was third place Justin Allgaier.

Leading the back half of the top 10 was Riley Herbst. Rounding it out was Sam Mayer, Ty Gibbs, Austin Hill and stage one winner Noah Gragson.

Hill’s result was his worst finish of the season on a road course. He placed in the top five in the first three races.

The race’s first caution came on Lap 15 for a crash involving Parker Kligerman and Ryan Ellis in Turn 7.

Kligerman’s brakes failed while he was running a few car lengths behind Ellis. Kligerman’s car went into a spin and then met Ellis’ in the middle of the turn and knocked them both off track.

Both drivers were eliminated from the race.

When Allmendinger lost the lead in the pits due to his slow stop, Gibbs was first off pit road. Though Gragson had the lead on the restart with two laps to go in the stage after he and Myatt Snider stayed out.

Gibbs quickly lost three positions on the restart as Gragson kept the lead.

Gragson held on to win the stage over Snider, Bowman, Allgaier and Herbst. Allmendinger managed to gain three spots in two laps to place ninth.

Gragson and Snider pit, giving the lead to Bowman.

On the Lap 24 restart, Bowman held the lead into Turn 1 as Gibbs spun from contact with Josh Berry. Later on in Turn 8, Berry got into Herbst, sending the other Monster Energy car into a spin. No caution came out for either incident as Bowman lost the lead to Allgaier over the course of the lap.

The race was slowed for the third time on Lap 26 for debris in Turn 1.

Right before the restart on Lap 28, Gragson had to dive onto pit road for repairs to his left-front fender. As the No. 9 went to work on the car, Allmendinger shot to the lead again over Bowman with a three-wide pass into Turn 1 after restarting the second row.

Allmendinger would hold the lead until he and Bowman pit with three laps left in the stage during a green flag cycle. Bowman would beat him to the pit exit.

Berry inherited the lead during the cycle and went on to win Stage 2.

Once Berry and other pits, Bowman took over the lead ahead of Allmendinger, Allgaier, Creed and Chastain. The race went back green with 18 laps left as Allmendinger took back the lead.

A couple of laps into the run, Sheldon Creed was went into a spin in Turn 13 after Chastain got underneath him in Turn 13 and spun him.

“It was my own doing getting into (Creed),” Chastain said. “Sheldon’s a guy I work out with and prepare with. I tried to give him enough room and I got into him. I got onto the rumble (strips) and got in too deep into 13 there. …. He knows I would race him way better than I race other people.”

 

 

 

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