AJ Allmendinger’s win was a veteran’s performance.
A strategy call to get fresher tires allowed a disciplined Allmendinger to move through the field late in Saturday’s Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville Superspeedway and ultimately take the lead with twenty laps to go. It wasn’t just going to be a cruise, though, as he still had to retain the lead and hold off the pack in two overtime restarts to win by 1.3232 seconds.
“I love winning on ovals because I know a lot of people doubt me on an oval,” Allmendinger said.
“I just knew more than anything I needed a good re-start and to get in Turn 1 clean.”
He broke a streak of eleven different winners in a row this season, having already won at Circuit of The Americas. But it wasn’t without his share of adversity, too, getting involved in a wreck in the beginning of the second stage. His team was able to repair the car and keep him competitive.
“We got a little fortunate there, when the accident happened, it didn’t really do anything too bad to the quarter panels… and the guys did a good job of fixing it there,” Allmendinger said.
Despite moonlighting in the Xfinity Series, the Cup Series driver says he values this win as much as any top series win.
“I spent a lot of years not winning anything, so I need wins to make me mentally okay every week,” Allmendinger admitted. “Whether it’s Cup or Xfinity, this is why you go out there and do this. So I don’t take anything for granted… you never know when the last one’s going to be.”
Riley Herbst finished second, followed by Sam Mayer, Austin Hill, and Josh Berry respectively who all scored in the top five.
“This was a great weekend for the No. 98 Monster Energy team,” Herbst said, “and it was a great way to start off this new part of the season with Davin Restivo, my new crew chief. I walked into the shop on Monday this week and that’s the first time I had officially met him.”
“It’s going to take time to get our communication perfect, but he promised me fast racecars and he brought just that this weekend,” he added.
It was an intense race for all involved, with eleven different leaders and as many cautions, including the two overtimes.
“That was the most up and down day I’ve ever had in racing,” Mayer said.
It was eleventh-place finisher Parker Kligerman who decided to gamble, though, staying out in the closing laps and saving fuel in hopes of a caution. He didn’t get one before Allmendinger, who did pit, caught him and drove away.
The wreck that impacted Allmendinger ended Ty Gibbs’ day. The fellow Cup Series driver had won Stage 1 and was clearly in a fast car, but on the restart, he hit Austin Hill and was forced out of the race. The only driver he’s credited with beating is Stefan Parsons, who was forced out of the race after an opening-lap crash.
Chandler Smith, AJ Allmendinger’s Kaulig Racing teammate, won the second stage and led the most laps, 74, of the field. He ended up twelfth after being sent spinning on the first overtime restart, forcing the field to restart once again.
John Hunter Nemechek recovered from a 21st-place starting position to finish sixth. The result means he retains the points lead by nine points over Austin Hill.
“With the day that I had, I know we probably passed the most cars here today. I’m just glad we were able to make it back to sixth and salvage a very good points day on the two guys we are racing for the regular season championship,” he said. “We just have to keep being consistent.”
Truck Series regular Zane Smith finished seventh, while Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer, and Parker Retzlaff rounded out the top ten.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Chicago next week for the inaugural running of the new street course.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – Tennessee Lottery 250
Saturday, June 24, 2023
1. (11) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 196.
2. (5) Riley Herbst, Ford, 196.
3. (34) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 196.
4. (7) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 196.
5. (23) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 196.
6. (21) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 196.
7. (6) Zane Smith(i), Ford, 196.
8. (33) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 196.
9. (1) Cole Custer, Ford, 196.
10. (10) Parker Retzlaff #, Chevrolet, 196.
11. (13) Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 196.
12. (2) Chandler Smith #, Chevrolet, 196.
13. (12) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 196.
14. (26) Brett Moffitt, Ford, 196.
15. (16) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 196.
16. (20) Kaz Grala, Toyota, 196.
17. (19) Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 195.
18. (32) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 195.
19. (14) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 195.
20. (35) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 195.
21. (17) Joe Graf Jr., Ford, 195.
22. (24) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 195.
23. (28) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 195.
24. (15) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 195.
25. (9) Kyle Sieg, Ford, 195.
26. (27) Blaine Perkins #, Chevrolet, 194.
27. (30) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 194.
28. (25) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 194.
29. (22) Chad Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 194.
30. (36) David Starr, Chevrolet, 193.
31. (37) Joey Gase, Ford, 193.
32. (31) Mason Massey, Ford, 186.
33. (29) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Alternator, 111.
34. (3) Sammy Smith #, Toyota, Accident, 68.
35. (38) Connor Mosack, Toyota, DVP, 61.
36. (8) Carson Hocevar(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 53.
37. (4) Ty Gibbs(i), Toyota, Accident, 53.
38. (18) Stefan Parsons, Chevrolet, Accident, 0.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 97.542 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 40 Mins, 21 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.323 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 11 for 58 laps.
Lead Changes: 17 among 11 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Custer 1-13;S. Smith # 14;C. Custer 15-20;T. Gibbs(i) 21-48;A. Allmendinger(i) 49;A. Hill 50-52;C. Custer 53-64;S. Mayer 65;C. Custer 66;C. Smith # 67-110;D. Hemric 111;C. Smith # 112-141;A. Allmendinger(i) 142-145;J. Berry 146;S. Mayer 147-151;P. Retzlaff # 152-154;P. Kligerman 155-176;A. Allmendinger(i) 177-196.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Chandler Smith # 2 times for 74 laps; Cole Custer 4 times for 32 laps; Ty Gibbs(i) 1 time for 28 laps; AJ Allmendinger(i) 3 times for 25 laps; Parker Kligerman 1 time for 22 laps; Sam Mayer 2 times for 6 laps; Austin Hill 1 time for 3 laps; Parker Retzlaff # 1 time for 3 laps; Sammy Smith # 1 time for 1 lap; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 1 lap; Josh Berry 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,00,10,77,18,16,98,1,20,48
Stage #2 Top Ten: 16,00,11,1,98,20,28,8,31,25
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