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AJ Allmendinger Grinds Out 6th Place Finish at COTA

AJ Allmendinger

AJ Allmendinger showcased some love to the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix faithful at COTA. (Photo: Cody Porter | The Podium Finish)

DEL VALLE, Texas — For an opportunity that came together in recent weeks, AJ Allmendinger and Kaulig Racing had a competitive showing in Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at COTA.

After all, it may have come as a surprise for Kaulig Racing to field a third NASCAR Cup Series entry for the sixth round of the season. Prior to COTA race weekend, the thriving organization announced its intentions to run the No. 13 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with Allmendinger.

The 42-year-old Los Gatos, California, native explained how the No. 13 entry went from a thought to reality before Sunday’s 68-lap race.

“On the Cup side of it, we unloaded pretty good,” Allmendinger observed. “People probably don’t know much about the third car. We kind of made the decision a few weeks ago to run it. So, we haven’t been planning all this. I was really happy just kinda putting the team together and unloaded real quick. The Cup series is so difficult.

“We just didn’t quite hit that sweet spot throughout practice and qualifying. Tried to make some changes. Didn’t really get the right direction out of it which I think is OK for the race. Qualifying is so tight. We missed it just a little bit and because of that, we didn’t make it to the second round.”

In Allmendinger’s case, working with crew chief Eddie Pardue, the combination fired off 17th fastest in practice before qualifying 14th for Sunday’s race. Needless to say, the three-time Cup race winner recognized how he and his team motivate each other such as the on track sessions before the big show on Sunday afternoon.

AJ Allmendinger

It was evident that AJ Allmendinger had a good car for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at COTA. (Photo: Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

“I feel like we pick each other up in moments of this weekend where I feel like I’m struggling a little bit,” he said. “The guys are always there to pick me up and make me feel better. They always give me the confidence that the reason I’m doing all these races is to keep trying to help them.”

The hard work and effort were evident from the start of the race as Allmendinger worked his way inside the top 10. Opting to pit before the end of Stage 1, the two-time XFINITY series regular season champion finished 14th.

A slow pit stop relegated Allmendinger to a 22nd place result in Stage 2 although he had the patience and poise to battle back in the final stage. Picking off positions in a race that essentially was devoid of cautions, save for stage breaks, Allmendinger rocketed his way from 22nd to sixth in the final results.

After taking time to decompress and cool off following the first Cup race at COTA to finish at its scheduled 68-lap distance, the Californian offered his thoughts on his afternoon.

AJ Allmendinger

A sixth place finish is a solid outcome for AJ Allmendinger and his Kaulig crew following Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at COTA. (Photo: John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

“It was a really solid day for the No. 16 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy team,” Allmendinger said. “We started 14th and got up into the top six or seven. Track position is so critical. On one of the pit stops, we got hung up there and lost about five or six spots, and that kind of put us to the next group of cars.”

By all means, Allmendinger tipped his cap to his team and the Kaulig organization with the No. 13 ride coming together for the COTA race weekend in a quick, turnaround time.

“We were able to fight back through that,” he said. “Just really proud of everybody at Kaulig Racing. Of course, you always want to win, but it went about as good as it could.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson 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 is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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