NASCAR: Allmendinger sees opportunity knocking

NASCAR: Allmendinger sees opportunity knocking

Cup Series

NASCAR: Allmendinger sees opportunity knocking

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For the first time in several seasons, AJ Allmendinger has arrived at a Sprint Cup road course event without an overwhelming sense of urgency.

The desire to win remains but it doesn’t represent the end of his playoffs chances should he fall short. That’s because Allmendinger has enjoyed a fairly competitive season thus far, having earned three top 10s, which is good for 19th in the Sprint Cup standings ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Sonoma Raceway.

He’s only 27 points behind Ryan Blaney for the final provisional playoff spot with 11 races remaining in the regular season. So for the first time since NASCAR adopted a win and you’re in playoff format, Sonoma (and Watkins Glen later in the summer) are not his only chances to make the Round of 16.

“We just need to have a strong weekend,” Allmendinger said. “We’ve had a fairly good season. We’re right on the cutoff for the Chase so that’s going to make things different because it was win or nothing the past couple of years.

“Now we can just go have a solid day and be inside the top five and that’s going to make a big difference in points. But at the end of the day, we want to win. If we go do our job, put our best foot forward and make no mistakes, we’ll have a shot at it.”

Allmendinger is viewed as one of the favorites but he doesn’t believe that adds any pressure beyond what he places upon himself each week anyway.

“I put pressure on myself every weekend, no matter the type of track,” Allmendinger said. “That’s what I do to myself. It has nothing to do with the outside world. Sonoma is a home race for myself (and) for (sponsors) Kingsford and Clorox.

“So, yes, it’s an important race and we’ll have a lot of people that show up. But for me, when it comes to pressure, it’s no different than what I usually put on myself.”

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