The NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs are still six races away, but AJ Allmendinger has already clinched one title.
With his victory in Saturday’s Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard, the driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet is the undisputed King of the Road.
Allmendinger was an irresistible force at the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. He led 42 of the 62 laps and overcame a fraught 25s pit stop that dropped him from the lead to 13th for a restart on lap 19.
The victory was Allmendinger’s third of the season—all on road courses—and his fourth win in the last five Xfinity Series races on circuits that turn right as well as left, dating to his triumph in last year’s fall event at the Charlotte Roval.
Allmendinger passed runner-up Alex Bowman for the lead after a restart on lap 45, staying alongside Bowman’s No. 17 Chevrolet though Turn 1 and pulling clear through Turn 2. Allmendinger crossed the finish line 2.084s ahead of the Hendrick Motorsports driver.
“God, I love this place,” exclaimed Allmendinger, who won last year’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the vaunted Brickyard and will defend that victory in Sunday’s Verizon 200 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“I knew Bowman was really good at the long runs, and so I tried to gap him as much as I could. God, I love Indy!”
Allmendinger lost track position on the lap 16 pit stop when his crew had difficulty changing the right rear tire, but the 40-year-old driver fought through traffic and advanced to third for a restart on lap 29.
He went three-wide to the inside on that restart and had the lead as he exited Turn 1.
“We gave up stage points a little bit there as well, to the guys we’re fighting for points,” Allmendinger said. “But you know what? Points don’t mean a…thing—we’re kissing the bricks.”
Bowman began to cut into Allmendinger’s lead late in the final 18-lap run green-flag run but ran out of time.
“I probably was a little too nice on that last restart,” said Bowman, who was running his first Xfinity Series race since 2018. “I knew he was going to be better than us firing off. At the end, we were definitely running him down—just not enough laps.”
The aggression level 📈📈
📺: NBC pic.twitter.com/G7NFQ6WRJq
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) July 30, 2022
Justin Allgaier passed Ross Chastain on the final lap to secure third place, with Chastain holding fourth. Chase Briscoe came home fifth, followed by Riley Herbst, Sam Mayer, Ty Gibbs, Austin Hill and Noah Gragson.
Gragson won the first stage of the race and fellow JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry claimed victory in Stage 2.