Allmendinger still smiling

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 15: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet, qualifies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 15: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet, qualifies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – No one came to MIS happier than A.J. Allmendinger.

A week removed from his first career Sprint Cup victory and the automatic berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that came with it, the No. 47 Chevy driver still was flying high.

“Just enjoying it,” he said of the last several days. “Having my parents there was so special to be able to share that with them in victory lane.

“I’ve put so much pressure on myself whether it’s this year or the last few years to go out and try to be at my best and I felt like at times if I didn’t win it was a negative on me.”

The win came in his 214th career start and closed the book on a chapter of his life that saw him lose a job with Penske Racing after a positive drug test in 2012. He was reinstated later that season and started 2014 with JTG-Daugherty Racing.

He won’t be a favorite to win the championship and he doesn’t care.

“It can only help us to keep getting better,” he said of the win at Watkins Glen. “We know when it comes to the Chase as a championship contender, obviously our names aren’t going to be the first ones that are brought up. We know that.

“So when we get to the Chase, hopefully we can make just a little bit of noise in it as well.”

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