AJ Allmendinger Scores Special Win at Mid-Ohio

Indeed, AJ Allmendinger savors a victory for the hometown Kaulig Racing team at Mid-Ohio. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

Indeed, AJ Allmendinger savors a victory for the hometown Kaulig Racing team at Mid-Ohio. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

Sometimes, the most rewarding victories come with hard work such as the case for AJ Allmendinger at Mid-Ohio.

In this case, the 39-year-old Los Gatos, Calif. native charged his way to the front more than once.

Particularly, Allmendinger worked his way from his 12th starting spot to a stage one win. Seemingly in prime position ahead of stage three, Allmendinger and his No. 16 team faced another challenge. Specifically, Allmendinger received a penalty for not taking the mandatory 50 seconds on pit road for the modified pit road rules.

Namely, Allmendinger restarted 19th but toward the rear of the field on lap 56. Despite the setback, Allmendinger worked his way up to third by lap 72.

Significantly, AJ Allmendinger's victory proved sentimental for his Kaulig Racing crewmates. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

Significantly, AJ Allmendinger’s victory proved sentimental for his Kaulig Racing crewmates. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

By all means, Saturday’s BL Transport 170 intensified with Austin Cindric and Ty Gibbs facing a determined Allmendinger. Truly, Allmendinger retook the lead with a daring three wide pass over Cindric and Gibbs in turn 1.

Notably, Allmendinger proved relentless in his team’s hometown race at Mid-Ohio. Regardless, Allmendinger channeled some Sergio Perez energy when he passed Gibbs.

Markedly, the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contender survived an overtime restart, winning his second race of 2021.

By and large, Allmendinger, while enthusiastic, considered his championship prospects after his Mid-Ohio victory.

For one thing, Allmendinger continually adds to car owner Matt Kaulig's building NASCAR success. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

For one thing, Allmendinger continually adds to car owner Matt Kaulig’s building NASCAR success. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

“I think it is, but I’m not going to sit here and say that we’re, by any means, the team to beat,” Allmendinger said. “We’ve gotta keep getting better. But, what I’ve really felt like in every race, we’ve had a shot at the top five. If you look at the stats, I think I’ve either finished in the top five or something happens. And we’re gaining speed. Part of this is like, I’m not a rookie. But I feel like a rookie sometimes because a lot of these tracks I haven’t been to in three years. Nor have I been to them in an Xfinity car.”

Generally speaking, Allmendinger’s Mid-Ohio victory was his first since 2013. Moreover, while Allmendinger competes in his first full-time XFINITY campaign, he’s working hard with extracting the most from his cars.

“So, half of these races I go to for the first race, I’m trying to figure out, ‘OK, what do I need in the racecar to be better?'” Allmendinger mused. “‘And what do I need to tell them to be better in and outside of the racecar?'” So, I think every weekend is an improvement. We get a little bit better. We’ve gotta keep working on our execution. For sure, we have the speed to go out there and contend for the championship.”

Chiefly, Allmendinger backs up his sentiments with two wins, eight top fives and eight top 10 results. With an average finish of 10.3, Allmendinger realizes the work ahead of him and his team for this year’s championship.

“The way this works, though, all it takes is one bad race in that Playoff span,” Allmendinger said. “So, we’ve gotta work on our execution and keep working on our speed. And we know that the final race is at Phoenix.

“So, if the 22’s (Cindric) in it, he’s gonna be really good. If the 7’s (Justin Allgaier) in it, he’s going to be really fast. It’s not been our best racetrack. So, we’ve definitely gotta keep improving. But, we’re there. I love where we’re at right now.”

Conversely, Allmendinger shouldn’t sell himself short when considering his fifth place result in March. After all, he and crew chief Jason Trinchere continually make tremendous strides each weekend.

Presently, Allmendinger ranks second in the driver’s and Playoffs standings. Although he finds himself 96 markers behind Cindric, the gap closes to a 12 point difference in the Playoff standings.

Now, Allmendinger and his Kaulig Racing crewmates focus on next Saturday’s (June 12) Alsco Uniforms 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Ultimately, Allmendinger hopes his race at Texas winds up better than his betting skills at the golf course.

Expressly, AJ Allmendinger thanked his family after his win, including Xena and Mr. Tickles. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

Expressly, AJ Allmendinger thanked his family after his win, including Xena and Mr. Tickles. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

“I will say this,” Allmendinger offered with a laugh. “My betting skills of how much to give each guy on stroke is horrible. Because of that, I lost. And if you know Chris Rice (President of Kaulig Racing), he definitely let me hear about it for two straight days. Even up in victory lane, he said, ‘I’ve got two trophies now! You’ve only got one!'”

Be that is it may, Allmendinger earned another worthwhile trophy that boosts his championship efforts.

Race top 10 Finishers

Allmendinger-Haley-Gibbs-Brandon Jones-Lally/Brown-Annett-Berry-Sieg-Williams

Editor’s Notes

Stephen Conley contributed reporting with this feature from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

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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