Sunday, August 10, 2014

AJ Allmendinger Wins Wild Race at Watkins Glen

Originally written for CLNS Radio.
AJ Allmendinger won his first career Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen on Sunday afternoon.

Photo courtesy Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Allmendinger had to run away from Marcos Ambrose, who was the favorite to win the race going into the weekend. 

“I wasn’t going to let Marcos take that from me,” Allmendinger said.  “If he could get to me, he’d move me out of the way just like I’d move him.”

“It wasn’t rough.  He didn’t try to wreck me, just tried to move me.”

The victory was the first of Allmendinger’s career, and it also locks him into the Chase.  

“I just wanted it so bad for them, for this team,” Allmendinger said.

Jeff Gordon won the pole for the Cheez-It 355, and he led the field to the green flag.  He and Ambrose raced side-by-side through the first corner before he finally cleared the No. 9 to take the lead.

The first caution came out on lap 10 when Cole Whitt’s car failed to slow down and he hit the tire barrier hard in Turn 1.

Gordon led the field back to the green flag on lap 15, and he led until the first round of green-flag pit stops began.  Gordon made his pit stop on lap 30, and that allowed his teammate Kasey Kahne to take the lead.  Kahne pitted under the first caution so he could go farther on fuel than most of the leaders.
When Kahne pitted on lap 33, Ambrose took the lead for the first time of the race.

On lap 51, Gordon’s car lost power while he was running second, and he brought out the caution after he was unable to get to pit road.  Ambrose brought most of the leaders down pit road, but the top 7 cars stayed out to take the lead.

Jimmie Johnson led the field back to the green flag on lap 55.  

On lap 57, a big wreck erupted when Ryan Newman made contact with Greg Biffle.  Newman spun hard into the wall, and then came back across the track into traffic.  He made hard contact with Michael McDowell, which tore the rear axle apart and sent him hard into the wall.  The race was red-flagged so that track workers could fix the guardrail.

After a red-flag that lasted for over one hour, the yellow flag came back out and the leaders brought their cars down pit road.

Carl Edwards stayed out under the caution, and he led the field back to the green flag on lap 60.  Edwards held off the field for the first lap, but Allmendinger was able to get around him to take the lead on lap 61.

On lap 78, Josh Wise stopped on the track to bring out the caution.  Allmendinger led the field back to the green flag, but the leaders didn’t make it through the first corner.  Kyle Larson got into Matt Kenseth, which spun Jimmie Johnson in front of the entire field.  Johnson was clipped by Regan Smith, and the caution came back out.

Allmendinger led the field back to the green flag on lap 86, and he and Ambrose raced side-by-side for the lead, and both cars made contact with each other.  

Allmendinger worked his way back around Ambrose before the caution came back out on lap 87.  Denny Hamlin was spun at the pit entrance, and Ben Kennedy was spun coming out of Turn 1.  The race was red-flagged for 20 minutes while track crews cleaned up the accidents.

Allmendinger led the field back to the green flag, and he was able to get ahead of Ambrose for the lead.  Ambrose fought back and got beside Allmendinger coming to the white flag, but Allmendinger was able to pull away from the No. 9 to get his first victory.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. AJ Allmendinger
2. Marcos Ambrose
3. Kurt Busch
4. Kyle Larson
5. Carl Edwards
6. Joey Logano
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Greg Biffle
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Brian Vickers
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12. Kasey Kahne
13. Martin Truex Jr.
14. Jamie McMurray
15. Casey Mears
16. Austin Dillon
17. Justin Allgaier
18. Aric Almirola
19. David Ragan
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21. Danica Patrick
22. David Gilliland
23. Reed Sorenson
24. Denny Hamlin
25. Boris Said
26. Nelson Piquet Jr.
27. Clint Bowyer
28. Jimmie Johnson
29. Landon Cassill
30. Joe Nemechek
31. Michael Annett
32. Paul Menard
33. Alex Kennedy
34. Jeff Gordon
35. Brad Keselowski
36. Alex Bowman
37. Regan Smith
38. Josh Wise
39. Ryan Truex
40. Kyle Busch
41. Ryan Newman
42. Michael McDowell
43. Cole Whitt

Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400.  The race can be seen next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Photo courtesy Jerry Markland/Getty Images

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