Dream season ends a little short for A.J. Allmendinger

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 06: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Hyperice Chevrolet, enters his car for qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 06, 2021 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Champion A.J. Allmendinger won five races this season, but he came up just short of raising the championship trophy with a 14th-place finish in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race.

“I just probably need to be a little better here to lead us in a better direction,” Allmendinger said of the one-mile Phoenix Raceway.

A problem with his right-rear tire caused Allmendinger to spin out bringing out a caution flag only 18 laps from the scheduled end of the race. It essentially ended any hopes he had of winning the race and Allmendinger apologized to Austin Cindric – who was leading at the time – for bringing out a caution and forcing a restart.

“I don’t want to be part of the storyline like that,” Allmendinger said. “I’d like it to have been a better storyline. Part of the growth. Definitely not what we wanted today, tonight. But we’ll come back strong. My thanks to all the men and women at Kaulig Racing and Chris Rice for making this such a dream season.

“Congrats to Daniel, it’s going to be cool having him as my teammate next season,” Allmendinger said of Hemric, who is moving to the Kaulig Racing team in 2022. “So for him to be the champion, looks like I’ve got something to shoot for next year. Congrats to him.”