Allmendinger Breaks Through
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on August 10, 2014 | 5:36 P.M.
Allmendinger's first career win put JTG Daugherty Racing in the Chase. (Photo: Getty Images)
AJ Allmendinger outran Marcos Ambrose to the checkered flag to score his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International.
Allmendinger secured a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series field with the victory, which was also the first for the JTG Daugherty Racing team.
“My gosh, I can’t believe we’ve won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race,” Allmendinger said. “With this whole 47 team, [team owners] Tad Geschickter, Jody Geschickter, Brad Daugherty, all the great sponsors we have, our first Cup victory together, my first victory…I love these guys.
“I just wanted it so bad for them and this team. They work so hard. I wasn’t gonna let Marcos take that from me.”
Ambrose was disappointed but complimentary to his opponent in coming up short of the win.
“First of all, congratulations to AJ and the 47 team,” Ambrose said. “They deserved that win. I left nothing on the table. I tried to rattle his cage and couldn’t shake him. We raced fair and square to the end there. It was a tough couple laps but it was fair. We were both giving it to each other pretty hard. No harm, no foul. We just came up a little short.”
Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.
Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers completed the first ten finishers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Michigan International Speedway next Sunday afternoon.
How Allmendinger won: He was a factor throughout the day but Allmendinger was at his best in crunch time. He held off Ambrose on a number of restarts down the stretch and wrestled his way to the front of the field on the final showing of the green flag never looking back on his way to the historic victory.
What else happened: What didn’t happen? There was hard racing throughout the day, as has been the case for most of the last few visits to The Glen. But there were also red flags for a pair of accidents, strategies played out and then discarded on pit road, angry drivers and wild restarts. It boiled down to the heavyweight road course ace battle between Allmendinger and Ambrose on the final restart and the race to the checkered flag produced one of the most exciting finishes of the season.
Who else had a good day: Ambrose showed his road racing prowess once again and although he and the Richard Petty Motorsports team would otherwise by proud of a second-place finish they were no doubt frustrated by the prospect of potentially losing their best shot at a Chase berth with a win….Kyle Larson’s phenomenal rookie season continued with his fourth place finish….Greg Biffle’s top-10 performance was a second straight solid outing for the No. 16 team.
Who had a bad day: Defending race winner Kyle Busch suffered damage in the first half of the race when he tried to make a pass for position and was knocked from contention…..Brad Keselowski has three straight runner-up finishes at The Glen coming into the race but brake line issues stopped the Team Penske driver from being a factor……Jeff Gordon started from the pole and was running for the lead when a electrical connection problem sapped power from the No. 24 Chevy and ended the day….Ryan Newman and Michael McDowell escaped injury when the were involved in a spectacular accident that also swept up others and caused a red flag for repairs….Jimmie Johnson’s run of bad luck continued when he got a piece of a late race crash that also included Tony Stewart’s replacement driver Regan Smith….Denny Hamlin clipped the barrels at the head of pit road after contact in an accident that brought out another red flag.
Quote of the day: "Now you see why we've had almost sellout crowds the last three years at Watkins Glen," Kyle Busch
Other notables: Kurt Busch scored his fifth top-five finish of the season…..Carl Edwards was the only driver to post two top-five finishes in the pair of road course races this season…..Regan Smith, who filled in for Tony Stewart, was involved in an accident and credited with a 37th-place finish.