I think it’s safe to say that AJ Allmendinger is the best road course racer in NASCAR.
Coming into Saturday’s Pennzoil 150, Allmendinger had dominated COTA and put on the performance of a lifetime at Portland to win there. Dating back to last year’s event at the Charlotte Roval, he has won four of the last five Xfinity Road Course Races.
Outside of a bad pit stop that put him back to 13th, there was no stopping the 16 as he led all but 20 laps of the race, despite not winning a stage. As always AJ was emotional after his victory. “God I love this place,” Allmendinger said after hugging car owner Chris Rice. “We lost stage points a little bit there to the guys that were fighting for points, but points don’t mean a damn thing. We’re kissing the bricks!”
Behind him was the Hendrick Motorsports 17 of Alex Bowman, who ran impressively in his first Xfinity race since 2018. In his post race comments, Bowman reflected on his lack of aggression on the final restart.
“I was probably a little too nice on the restart,” Bowman explained. “We were running him down, just ran out of laps.” The run could provide a morale booster for Bowman, who has DNF’ed in three of his last four Cup Events.
Justin Allgaier, Ross Chastain, and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top five followed by impressive runs by Riley Herbst and Sam Mayer who were sixth and seventh respectively, as well as Ty Gibbs in eighth, Austin Hill came home ninth and last weekend’s winner Noah Gragson rounded out the top ten.
It wouldn’t be a race featuring Ross Chastain lately without a little drama. While racing hard with Sheldon Creed, Chastain refused to lift and got into Creed, sending him spinning and further adding to the misery this season for the rookie and former Truck Series Champion.
Chastain apologized, saying “I’m so sorry to Sheldon… he knows it, I’d race him way better than I’d race most people.” Radio traffic from Creed indicated that he was very upset, but I couldn’t find anything from him after the race.
Herbst and Gibbs both spun during the race but battled back to score valuable points. Noah Gragson and Josh Berry won the stages. Next week the Xfinity Series visits Michigan International Speedway for the 21st race of the season.
Photo credit to Pat, @Puffadda on Twitter