AJ Allmendinger Strengths Title Run at Charlotte

AJ Allmendinger has the eyes of the tiger. (Photo: Michael Guargilia | The Podium Finish)

AJ Allmendinger has the eyes of the tiger. (Photo: Michael Guargilia | The Podium Finish)

By all means, AJ Allmendinger continually showcases his incredible talents with Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 Hyperice Chevy. While the 39-year-old Los Gatos, California native triumphed in the Verizon 200 at Indianapolis, his performances in the NASCAR XFINITY Series proves quite remarkable.

Still young and tenacious as ever, Allmendinger continually brings it against the young lions on the track. Even after starting from 14th in Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, the seventh year XFINITY racer was encouraged about his chances.

Nevertheless, Allmendinger and crew chief Jason Trinchere understood the challenges that faced them ahead of the race.

“Yeah, I mean, early on, it was tough having to start 14th,” Allmendinger said, “And knowing that, I mean, just one small mistake, not even for myself, but you get caught up in something, that could really make a challenge to make it to the next round. And to kind of pace ourselves, I had to be aggressive at times to get to the front and then be cautious at other times.”

Allmendinger’s poise and maturity proved quite vital in the 68 lap race. After starting 14th, Allmendinger rocketed his way to a second place finish in stage 1.

After placing outside of the points in stage 2, Allmendinger worked his way back into contention. Up to the second spot on lap 48, it seemed like Watkins Glen deja vu with Ty Gibbs leading the way.

However, Gibbs overcooked the backstretch chicane due to brake issues. Indeed, Allmendinger capitalized on the opportunity.

AJ Allmendinger capitalized in the final moments of the Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte ROVAL. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

AJ Allmendinger capitalized in the final moments of the Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte ROVAL. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“Once we got into the lead, we put a lot of work into this setup to try to, as I said, keep evolving it, trying to make it better,” Allmendinger shared. “And, in traffic, it wasn’t perfect. But once we got in the lead, that thing had a lot of speed. So, I think that’s what for me is the biggest accomplishment from Kaulig Racing. …that we keep working hard and I think we showed, once we got in the lead, how much faster we were than everybody. And that’s what I liked the most about it. We could just pace ourselves and keep pulling away, kind of at will, and that was a lot of fun.”

Certainly, Allmendinger had plentiful fun for the remainder of the race. Even after a caution for Tommy Joe Martins‘ accident in turn 1 on lap 65, Allmendinger and his Kaulig crewmates proved quite relentless.

Following a NASCAR Overtime restart, Allmendinger bested Austin Cindric and Daniel Hemric to the stripe while Justin Haley, Brandon Jones, Noah Gragson, Preston Pardus, Myatt Snider, Justin Allgaier and Sam Mayer rounded out the top 10.

Meanwhile, Snider, Jeb Burton, Jeremy Clements and Riley Herbst saw their championship hopes end. Moreover, Allmendinger, Cindric, Allgaier, Gragson, Hemric, Haley, Jones and Harrison Burton advanced into the Round of 8.

Ahead of the Bank of America ROVAL 400 on Oct. 10, Allmendinger expressed confidence with his chances in the Cup ride. Flexing his muscles with a second place finish in stage 1, his efforts were curtailed by engine issues on lap 57.

Nevertheless, he seemed quite optimistic about his chances with his Kaulig Racing team’s Cup efforts.

Despite engine issues during Sunday's race, Allmendinger was quite competitive in his No. 16 Chevy. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Despite engine issues during Sunday’s race, Allmendinger was quite competitive in his No. 16 Chevy. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“Yeah, that’s gonna be a challenge,” he reflected. “You know, I think we’re trying to go out there and and win the race. But on the Cup side of it, in a way, it’s a combination of what an amazing year that I could never imagined. You know, the road course races that we’ve done, we’ve been really top six, top seven in all of them except Road America. We got some damage early. I felt like we could have been top five there as well. So, we’ve had a lot of speed and to be able to win at Indy was a dream come true.

“So yeah, today (Oct. 9) was the important day. Tomorrow’s like the fun day of going out there and trying to drive up front. You know, I respect, like I was in the same position, I respect the guys that are going out there with a lot more on the line tomorrow of trying to make it to the next round. So, I’ll try to be smart around those guys. But, for sure, if we got a fast car to go up there and and contend inside the top five and maybe win the race, we’ll definitely go win late on the line.”

Win or lose, Allmendinger counts on his ardent and diligent team with the ups and downs prevalent in NASCAR. When asked about how he tries to eliminate doubts from his mind, he answered with his refreshing honesty.

“I don’t know,” he shared. “I’ve never figured that out. I try. And it’s not a joke. Like I’d never I’ve never figured it out. You get the right people around you, you know my wife Tara and my parents, like it starts with them. But when it comes to the professional side of it, you know, it’s Matt (Kaulig) and Chris (Rice) and all the men and women for allowing me to be me,. But like, OK, you’re not like, you know, like that whole scene.

“But I’ve never figured out how to get out of my own head. It’s a constant battle, but I look at it now. I’m almost 40, like still driving cars professionally. Like it’s no reason to change it now. I’m not going to change that. It’s about trying to have more good days than bad. And enjoy the people that you’re around. And that’s why it makes it so many more good days than bad now.”

In the meantime, Allmendinger shared one of the greatest virtues that he learned from his parents that’s impacted him as a person and racer.

Allmendinger shares some introspective advice on perseverance. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Allmendinger shares some introspective advice on perseverance. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“To be accountable and to never give up,” Allmendinger recalled. “Like, it was always. …my parents always. ….you know, if I made a mistake, they made sure I knew that I made a mistake and to learn from it and be accountable for it. And then, through all the ups and downs, when sometimes you feel like it’s not gonna happen or all that, to never give up because the moment you give up is the moment that you never had a chance to begin with.

“So that’s that’s what they’ve always done and honestly just having the best marriage and loving family I could have ever imagined that were so supportive good and bad. So you know, I’ve had a great life on that.”

Editor’s Notes

Stephen Conley contributed to this feature regarding Allmendinger’s perspectives on eliminating doubts from his mind.

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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