SONOMA, Calif. – The same old song has become painfully familiar to AJ Allmendinger.
In 2014, the driver of the No. 47 JTG/Daugherty Racing Chevrolet started second at Sonoma Raceway, led 35 laps – and finished 37th, two laps down.
Last year, Allmendinger started on the pole and came home 37th again.
Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 brought another second-place start, and again the race fell apart for the Californian driver.
After pit stops on Lap 88 of 110, Allmendinger was poised to restart sixth, hoping to claim victory and gain entry into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. During the stop, however, his team incurred a penalty for an uncontrolled tire, and Allmendinger took the green flag on Lap 91 at the tail end of the field.
“I thought, whatever it was, 25 to go, we were coming,” said Allmendinger, who led 20 laps early and ultimately worked his way up to 14th at the finish. “So in the end, just a bad pit stop and let the tire get away and penalty.
“That took away our chance to win the race. Overall, I thought the car was pretty good. It was for sure a top-three, top-four car. We just needed to be up there at the end, and we weren’t.”
The road course ace tried his best to adopt a philosophical attitude after losing what may have been his best chance to qualify for the Chase.
“It’s racing,” Allmendinger said. “You know you are not guaranteed anything until the checkered flag. It’s part of life – we win and lose as a team.
“We have to get our stuff straight if we actually want to be a Chase team and consider ourselves a Chase team.”