AJ Allmendinger Triumphs In Wild Indy Race

By all means, AJ Allmendinger enjoys his Verizon 200 at Indianapolis victory. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

By all means, AJ Allmendinger enjoys his Verizon 200 at Indianapolis victory. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Sometimes, it’s really about how you finish more than where you start, especially if you ask AJ Allmendinger.

In this case, AJ Allmenidnger, who started a respectable eighth, seemingly struggled with track position. Still, the driver of the No. 16 Hyperice Chevy Camaro fielded by Kaulig Racing knows his way around road courses.

All things considered, Allmendinger capitalized on a race changing moment on lap 74. A caution ensued as a result of debris lodged just near the runoff area of turn 6.

Suddenly, a race seemingly locked up for Kyle Larson and his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy team became wide open. While Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Matt DiBenedetto and Chase Briscoe, Larson and the frontrunners pitted for tires and fuel.

As the race resumed on lap 77, chaos ensued in troublesome turn six. James Davison, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, William Byron, Ryan Preece, Ross Chastain, Justin Haley and Daniel Suarez found themselves in stock car mayhem.

Notably, Davison, Bell, Logano, Byron and Suarez saw their race efforts end prematurely.

Meanwhile, AJ Allmendinger emerged as a late race contender. Climbing inside the top 10, the crafty Californian carved his way inside the top three on lap 94, the race’s ultimate restart.

Hamlin and Briscoe, seeking their first win of 2021, refused to yield heading into turn 1. Despite Hamlin cleanly working his way into turn 1, Briscoe ran off course.

Rejoining the field, Briscoe caught Hamlin just past the backstretch. However, both drivers tangled resulting in Hamlin spinning out of the lead.

Significantly, Allmendinger leaped at the opportunity, taking the lead with Ryan Blaney and Larson hot in pursuit.

On this day, AJ Allmendinger wasn’t denied that elusive Indianapolis victory. In fact, Allmendinger scored his second career NASCAR Cup Series win.

Following, from his perspective, a disappointing second in Saturday’s Pennzoil 150, Allmendinger seemed jubilant with his crowning achievement.

"Oh my God. We just won at Indy!" - AJ Allmendinger (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“Oh my God. We just won at Indy!” – AJ Allmendinger (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“Oh, my gosh, I was so mad yesterday,” Allmendinger said. “I wanted to win so bad. I mean, this is unbelievable. In my wildest dreams, I could never imagine the way that just played out. Matt Kaulig, I don’t even know what he’s doing right now. He can’t — he’s almost in tears. Chris Rice, the Hyperice Chevy was so good. We had to fight hard.”

Fittingly, Allmendinger dedicated his victory to a pair of two motorsports media greats linked with Indianapolis.

“Robin Miller, I saw him this morning, this one is for you, baby,” Allmendinger said. “We love you, Robin, everything that you do. In memory of Bob Jenkins.”

Furthermore, Allmendinger thanked those in his circles, saying, “Baby, I love you so much. Mom and Dad, all my friends and family, oh, my God. We just won at Indy.”

Remarkably, Blaney, logging his first podium since his Atlanta spring win, counts his blessings.

“Our car looks better than most,” Blaney said. “That was a wild race, especially towards the end. I feel like we could have run 10th-12th all day and that is where we were. We just kind of got a couple good restarts and dodged some mess and we had a good shot to try to win the race. I just couldn’t put together a good enough lap and a half to get to AJ (Allmendinger) to try to pass. We survived all day and did a good job. The whole team did a good job sticking in there. The race got pretty crazy at the end. We almost made it a perfect weekend for Penske Racing, just missed it by one spot.”

Although Larson came short of a prestigious Indianapolis win, the new regular season points leader seemed pleased.

“It was wild there at the end,” Larson observed. “My car was extremely good. Really proud of everybody on our Hendrickcars.com team. We had the best car for sure throughout the second and third stage, and then just we had the caution there with like 10 to go or something and then we had to come down, put tires on, and some guys gambled and stayed out, and that kind of just got us in the mess a little bit. Was able to find my way to the front row and then just got shoved around and put in the grass. Kind of ended my shot to win there. But able to salvage a third, so happy about that, and a good points day.”

Similarly with Al Unser Jr in the 1992 Indianapolis 500, Allmendinger initially sought for best in class. Ultimately, the versatile racer becomes the latest winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kiss the bricks. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Kiss the bricks. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“I mean, it was survival of the fittest,” he said. “We probably had like an eighth-, tenth-place car, sped on pit road. I thought we were going to finish 12th to 15th, and then those restarts were just insane. It’s great when you have a car owner that just says, ‘Go get me trophies.’

“He doesn’t care if that thing is torn up. Chevy, ECR horsepower, RCR, everybody that allows us to do that, all of our sponsors on the XFINITY side of it, we just won at Indy. What’s up! Thank you everybody for coming out. Let’s go!”

Verizon 200 at Indianapolis Top 10 Finishers

Allmendinger-Blaney-Larson-Elliott-DiBenedetto/Kurt Busch-Jones-Haley-Cindric-Newman

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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