Allmendinger cruises to NASCAR Nationwide Series win at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, OHIO - AUGUST 17: A.J. Allmendinger celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 17, 2013 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, OHIO - AUGUST 17: A.J. Allmendinger celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 17, 2013 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, OHIO – AUGUST 17: A.J. Allmendinger celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 17, 2013 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

LEXINGTON, Ohio — AJ Allmendinger wondered if he had enough fuel after a few extra laps were added to Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series stop at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but why worry?

His No. 22 Ford Mustang probably could’ve survived that, too.

He spent most of Saturday afternoon in front, then held on for an extra few laps to earn his second career NASCAR Nationwide victory in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200, the series’ first-ever race here.

Allmendinger had a comfortable lead over pole winner Michael McDowell but had to sweat out a green-white-checkered finish after Kenny Habul triggered a course-wide caution on the penultimate lap. It was no problem as Allmendinger sprinted away on a lap 93 green-white-checkered restart and stayed in front for the final two laps.

McDowell was second and Sam Hornish Jr. assumed the series points lead after finishing third. Max Papis and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five.

“The car was just amazing,” said Allmendinger, who won for the same team in his only other start June 22 at Road America. “It was so good those last 20 laps.”

It wasn’t too bad in the first 74.

Allmendinger started second and needed just eight laps to take the lead after the green flag. He led 27 straight laps midway through the race and was in front for the final 29. He led 73 of the race’s 94 laps. McDowell led the next most — eight.

Allmendinger lost the lead after a lap 58 pit stop and took it back five laps later. He kept his No. 22 Ford Mustang in front of the pack after a lap 67 restart and cruised to his second NASCAR Nationwide road-course win in as many tries this season.

He was worried about the last few laps — Allmendinger said he thought it took the car a couple of laps to feel comfortable — but did the same thing he did on five other restarts where he had the lead.

“The preferred line was the inside line and by the time I got clear, AJ was a few car lengths ahead,” McDowell said. “The 22 really had the car to beat.”

Allmendinger isn’t competing for the series title but those that are saw all sorts of changes at the top.

Hornish started the race three points behind series leader Austin Dillon but left Mid-Ohio with a 13-point lead with 11 races remaining. Dillon, who finished 21st, dropped into a tie for third with Regan Smith, who spun early in the day and fell out of contention.

Elliott Sadler jumped ahead of both of them to take over second in the standings. He’s two points  ahead of the duo. Brian Vickers remained fifth in the standings; right where he started.

The top five are separated by 18 points.

Hornish avoided trouble that helped keep Smith and Dillon out of the top 10 but almost lost his spot near the top in the final lap. He and Owen Kelly came together in turn 3 but Hornish kept his line and streaked away while Kelly, who briefly was third, spun and finished the race 23rd.

“He left the door open and kind of closed it,” said Hornish, who led three laps and appeared to have a car that could contend with Allmendinger’s early in the race.

Smith had a pair of spins and Dillon started near the rear of the field after another Jason Bowles qualified his car while he practiced in Tony Stewart’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 14 Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway.

McDowell led the first eight laps from the pole but gave way to Allmendinger, who dominated large stretches of the third and final road race on the NASCAR Nationwide schedule.

McDowell, in just his fifth NASCAR Nationwide start of the season, secured his second career Coors Light pole with a fast lap of 96.256.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Race – Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Lexington, Ohio

Saturday, August 17, 2013

1. (2) AJ Allmendinger(i), Ford, 94, $49350.

2. (1) Michael McDowell(i), Toyota, 94, $47450.

3. (8) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 94, $32500.

4. (10) Max Papis, Chevrolet, 94, $30900.

5. (7) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 94, $28000.

6. (14) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 94, $23500.

7. (19) Marcos Ambrose(i), Ford, 94, $15250.

8. (15) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 94, $21125.

9. (20) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 94, $20250.

10. (23) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 94, $21200.

11. (17) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 94, $20900.

12. (12) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 94, $19825.

13. (9) Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 94, $19725.

14. (4) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 94, $19600.

15. (6) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 94, $20500.

16. (16) Andrew Ranger, Dodge, 94, $13650.

17. (30) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 94, $19350.

18. (37) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 94, $19225.

19. (38) Tomy Drissi(i), Toyota, 94, $19150.

20. (39) Kevin Lepage, Chevrolet, 94, $19775.

21. (13) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 94, $19025.

22. (21) Michael Annett, Ford, 94, $18985.

23. (3) Owen Kelly, Toyota, 94, $18950.

24. (24) Jeff Green, Toyota, 94, $18890.

25. (11) Ron Fellows(i), Chevrolet, 93, $19295.

26. (29) Kenny Habul, Toyota, 93, $12785.

27. (5) Nelson Piquet Jr. #, Chevrolet, Accident, 92, $20750.

28. (34) Anthony Gandon, Ford, 91, $18720.

29. (22) Alex Kennedy(i), Toyota, 90, $18685.

30. (28) Chad Hackenbracht(i), Toyota, Suspension, 85, $18940.

31. (18) Travis Pastrana, Ford, 85, $18595.

32. (27) Kyle Kelley, Chevrolet, Engine, 78, $18550.

33. (32) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, 77, $18520.

34. (36) Kevin O’Connell, Chevrolet, Engine, 69, $12500.

35. (25) Stanton Barrett, Ford, Engine, 67, $12468.

36. (26) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Engine, 62, $17655.

37. (31) Alx Danielsson, Chevrolet, Suspension, 35, $11635.

38. (33) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, Brakes, 29, $11616.

39. (35) Chase Miller, Toyota, Vibration, 3, $11475.

40. (40) Blake Koch, Toyota, Vibration, 2, $11338.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  77.724 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 43 Mins, 51 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.164 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 18 laps.

Lead Changes:  8 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. McDowell(i) 1-8; A. Allmendinger(i) 9-21; M. Papis 22-26; S. Hornish Jr. 27-29; A. Allmendinger(i) 30-58; A. Dillon 59-60; J. Allgaier 61-62; C. Hackenbracht(i) 63; A. Allmendinger(i) 64-94.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  A. Allmendinger(i) 3 times for 73 laps; M. McDowell(i) 1 time for 8 laps; M. Papis 1 time for 5 laps; S. Hornish Jr. 1 time for 3 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 2 laps; J. Allgaier 1 time for 2 laps; C. Hackenbracht(i) 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: S. Hornish Jr. – 769; E. Sadler – 756; R. Smith – 754; A. Dillon – 754; B. Vickers – 751; J. Allgaier – 722; B. Scott – 706; T. Bayne – 696; K. Larson # – 695; P. Kligerman – 687.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.