AJ Allmendinger Continues Road Course Domination With COTA Win

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 26: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

AJ Allmendinger scored his eleventh career  Xfinity Series win and seventh on a road course in Saturday’s Pit Boss 250 at the Circuit of the Americas. The veteran passed fellow Cup-series driver Ross Chastain late in the race then held off Austin Hill to cruise to victory. Allmendinger ultimately led more than half of the laps on the day in a dominant performance and took the checkered flag with a commanding lead of 2.039 seconds.

Getting out of the car, Allmendinger said, “All the men and women at Kaulig Racing have been working so hard. They aren’t sleeping a bit. They deserve to win more than anybody. I wanted to win so bad. I knew if I just drove right, it would have speed. Best way to show how hard this team works is to go win races.”

Allmendinger had hopped in the Xfinity car after running in Cup Series practice and qualifying. “Cup wasn’t the best,” he said, “but this was good, and we’ll go attack them again tomorrow.”

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 26: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win he NASCAR Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

“All in all, it was a solid effort for our Global Chevy Camaro,” Hill said. “I’ve always felt like I could get around road courses. I felt like I proved it last year in the trucks winning at Watkins Glen and it just kind of build the momentum and the confidence going forward into this year that when we come to road courses, we can get the job done. I guess A.J. was just a little bit better than us, because I felt we had a really good car, but this shows we can run with AJ.” 

Cup Series regular Cole Custer finished third, joining other drivers from NASCAR’s premier series who gained valuable experience in the Truck and Xfinity races. 

He elaborated: “It was good to get out there and get those laps. I think I overdrove the car a lot of the day, so it was good to get in a rhythm. The track gets really hot and slick in the afternoon, so it is good to know that for the Cup car. Hopefully, we can have another good run tomorrow in our Cup Mustang.”

He was competing up front for most of the race, but was forced to recover from a late speeding penalty. “I am pretty frustrated,” Custer said. “I think we would have had a really good shot to win that race and I just made a stupid mistake and sped on pit road.”

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 25: Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, and Cole Custer, driver of the #07 Bucked Up Energy Drink Ford, drive during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 at Circuit of The Americas on March 25, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Noah Gragson and Sam Mayer rounded out the top five for Jr. Motorsports. Chastain finished 17th.

Allmendinger tightened the race for the points lead in the Xfinity Series, with Gragson holding on by just a single point. The drivers will continue the battle next Saturday at Richmond. 

Photos: NASCAR at COTA Saturday March 26, 2022

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Results Pit Boss 250
Circuit of The Americas
Austin, Texas
Saturday, March 26, 2022

1. (4) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 46.
2. (8) Austin Hill #, Chevrolet, 46.
3. (3) Cole Custer(i), Ford, 46.
4. (12) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 46.
5. (10) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 46.
6. (21) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 46.
7. (13) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 46.
8. (16) Jade Buford, Chevrolet, 46.
9. (17) Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, 46.
10. (6) Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, 46.
11. (35) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 46.
12. (11) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 46.
13. (18) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 46.
14. (7) Preston Pardus, Chevrolet, 46.
15. (1) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 46.
16. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 46.
17. (2) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 46.
18. (38) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 46.
19. (23) Parker Chase, Toyota, 46.
20. (28) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 46.
21. (33) Stefan Parsons, Chevrolet, 46.
22. (30) Patrick Gallagher, Ford, 46.
23. (20) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 46.
24. (26) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 46.
25. (19) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 46.
26. (22) Riley Herbst, Ford, 46.
27. (25) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 46.
28. (15) Bubba Wallace(i), Toyota, 46.
29. (36) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 46.
30. (34) Ryan Vargas, Chevrolet, 46.
31. (14) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 46.
32. (32) Scott Heckert, Chevrolet, 46.
33. (9) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 46.
34. (31) Joe Graf Jr, Ford, 46.
35. (27) Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 46.
36. (5) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 41.
37. (37) Will Rodgers, Toyota, 34.
38. (29) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, Engine, 13.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 70.64 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 13 Mins, 14 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.039 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 8 laps.
Lead Changes: 8 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: R. Chastain(i) 1-3;A. Allmendinger 4-16;T. Gibbs 17;R. Chastain(i) 18-27;S. Mayer 28-30;J. Allgaier 31;R. Chastain(i) 32;A. Allmendinger 33-46.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): AJ Allmendinger 2 times for 27 laps; Ross Chastain(i) 3 times for 14 laps; Sam Mayer 1 time for 3 laps; Ty Gibbs 1 time for 1 lap; Justin Allgaier 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 16,36,11,35,7,91,48,26,51,54
Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,48,7,8,98,44,92,16,9,5

Owen Johnson