AJ Allmendinger Excels With Fifth at COTA

Undoubtedly, AJ Allmendinger excelled at COTA with less than ideal conditions. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Undoubtedly, AJ Allmendinger excelled at COTA with less than ideal conditions. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Without doubt, AJ Allmendinger thrives in the most challenging of conditions in a racecar. Whenever Mother Nature tasks drivers at the track, Allmendinger takes his superb driving toward another level.

Nevertheless, the 39-year-old Los Gatos, Calif. native seemed up for this latest challenge last Sunday. This time, Circuit of the Americas awaited for Allmendinger and his Cup comrades.

Still, AJ Allmendinger fired off his No. 16 Hyperice Chevrolet Camaro with the 22nd fastest effort in Saturday’s practice.

Despite the somewhat surprising effort in that session, the 2014 Watkins Glen winner was ready for the challenge.

Moreover, Allmendinger logged valuable time at COTA last Saturday afternoon. Starting from the seventh position, Allmendinger placed second in the Pit Boss 250.

After logging the 22nd fastest time in practice, AJ Allmendinger showcased speed in qualifying. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

After logging the 22nd fastest time in practice, AJ Allmendinger showcased speed in qualifying. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Earlier last Sunday, Allmendinger posted the seventh fastest time in qualifying, repeating his feat from Saturday. Before lining up alongside Chase Elliott, the Kaulig Racing stalwart enjoyed pranking Joey Logano on pit road.

Rainy Days and Sundays

Before the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix kicked off, Allmendinger and 34 other drivers switched from wet to slick tires. However, this decision backfired for Allmendinger and his rivals on the soggy track surface.

Following a 19th place finish in stage 1, Allmendinger and his team worked their way back into the top 10.

In this case, Allmendinger avoided two grinding accidents in the backstretch between turns 11 and 12. Moreover, Allmendinger rocketed from 22nd spot to place eighth in stage 2 in less than ideal conditions.

Afterwards, the road course warrior stayed on track during the stage break to restart in sixth.

Following stage 1, AJ Allmendinger maximized on opportunities in stage 2. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Following stage 1, AJ Allmendinger maximized on opportunities in stage 2. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Needless to say, Allmendinger and crew chief Matt Swiderski set their sights on a strong finish at COTA.

Of course, standing water on the track remained a constant threat for the drivers.

Indeed, after pitting for tires and fuel in the race’s waning moments, Allmendinger rejoined the fray in the top five.

Naturally, Allmendinger set his focus on maximizing track position in the final laps. Ultimately, visibility issues and standing water on the track cut this race short just 14 laps from its scheduled distance.

Despite the race’s early finish, Allmendinger, improved on his seventh at the Daytona road course in February. This time, he logged a strong fifth at COTA.

The Road Ahead

More importantly, Allmendinger tallied Kaulig Racing’s first top five finish in the NASCAR Cup Series. Certainly, the typically optimistic Allmendinger expressed pride and elation with his team’s performance.

In contrast with stage 1, AJ Allmendinger ran toward the front. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Ultimately, AJ Allmendinger ran toward the front when it mattered. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

“COTA was very slick in the rain!” Allmendinger said following Sunday’s race per a Kaulig Racing report. “It was a challenging race track. But I felt like once we got up front and figured out which corners I could push, we were able to stay in a good spot.

“We had a lot of speed. I’m proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing and the program they have put together. To race against full-time Cup teams and some of the best drivers in the world, is awesome. It was fun to go out there and run up front.”

Primarily, Allmendinger further illustrated his might on the track with his formidable Kaulig Racing equipment. Nonetheless, Allmendinger’s next Cup start takes place on July 4 for the JOCKEY Made in America 250 at Road America.

In the meantime, Allmendinger can take heart that he can challenge the best Cup racers on any given race day. This time, the Californian knows he’s got his hardy crew ready for battle, no matter the weather.

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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