Race Weekend Central

Underdogs: Loudon I

Have No Fear; The Underdogs Are Here: Loudon I Edition

Are you a fan of a driver from a smaller team? Do you ever see one of these guys on the race results and wonder how he got there? NASCAR’s small teams may not get much airtime during the race broadcast, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about. Each week, Amy Henderson takes a peek into how the little guys fared in the race and picks three who stood out.

Underdog Selection No. 1: AJ Allmendinger for JTG-Daugherty Racing; started 20th, finished 18th

Loudon is one of those tracks that’s been really rough on the smaller teams in the past, and the latest edition was no exception. Allmendinger ran right around 20th place for most of the day, and was able to take home the only top-20 finish for a small team this week.  Allmendinger’s spring hot streak hasn’t carried into summer, and he’s fallen from an outside shot at the Chase on points to 26th, second among the small teams to the No. 13.  He’s still a talented driver, but his team is still learning how to compete at a higher level.  He could heat up again, though, as the growing pains ease and the schedule hits some tracks that favor his style.

Underdog Selection No. 2: David Gilliland and David Ragan Front Row Motorsports; started 33rd and 26th, finished 24th and 25th

This team has had some solid finishes in the mid-to-low 20’s this year, and Gilliland, in particular, has been fairly consistent. The trouble is, the team seems to have about topped out where they’re finishing. Still, both Gilliland and Ragan were decent if not spectacular, and both were able to improve in the late laps, which is important as it allows them to capitalize on attrition and to put up some good numbers among their peers as they did in New Hampshire.

Underdog Selection No. 3: Cole Whitt for BK Racing; started 35th, finished 28th

Since being shuffled from Swan Racing to BK earlier this year, Whitt has become the team’s best driver, frequently putting up the best finish among his teammates, and this week, his solid run was one of the best among the small teams as well.

Underdog Pick of the Week-Indianapolis: AJ Allmendinger for JTG-Daugherty Racing

My pick for Loudon was Reed Sorenson, who, based on past performance, had a shot at a great day.  Unfortunately, neither of the Tommy Baldwin Racing teams got a handle on the track, and Sorenson finished 33rd. You win some, you lose some…

Teams have a week off before heading to Indianapolis for 400 miles around the historic speedway. My pick for Indy is AJ Allmendinger, who has a respectable 18th-place average finish at the track and who also has some extra experience in an Indy car—he had a shot at winning the 2013 Indy 500 before a seat belt malfunction forced him to pit. Another advantage for  Allmendinger is Earnhardt-Childress power, which he’ll need on those long, flat straightaways.

Is your favorite driver among NASCAR’s underdogs? Are you frustrated with the lack of coverage they receive during the race broadcasts? Amy has all the small teams covered each and every week in The Big Six (THIS WEEK’S LINK: https://frontstretch.com/the-big-six-questions-answered-after-the-camping-world-rv-sales-301). Be sure to check it out to see how your favorites fared!_



About the author

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Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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