Race Weekend Central

Underdogs Michigan I

Have No Fear; The Underdogs Are Here: Michigan 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: Justin Allgaier for HScott Motorsports; started 17th, finished 16th

 Finally, Allgaier got his day in the sun. After a slow start to 2014 with new team ownership, Allgaier and crew were able to put it all together for a strong finish at the head of the small-team class. This team is still a step behind where it was a year ago, but it is showing signs of a turnaround in recent weeks, and this time out, Allgaier put together a solid effort from qualifying on. It’s too soon to say this team has turned it around, but they do have a look of improvement about them as the season goes on.

 Underdog Selection No. 2: Trevor Bayne for Wood Brothers Racing; started 23rd, finished 19th

Wood Brothers racing continues to use their limited schedule to their benefit, posing their second top 20 in their last two starts and fourth in six races so far this year. A top-20 effort might not seem like a big deal, but for an underfunded, part-time, single-car team, it’s a pretty good benchmark. With Bayne leaving for a full-time ride with Roush Fenway racing next year, the team is in position to help develop another driver in the series, and while the team’s glory days are in the past, they have a future in the series, racing on heir own terms.

Underdog Selection No. 3: Michael Annett for Tommy Baldwin Racing; started 37th, finished 21st

Despite his relative lack of Sprint Cup experience, Annett is quietly putting together a decent showing with this team, with sponsorship from pilot Flying J beginning to make a difference for the TBR team. Annett has outpaced his teammate, Reed Sorenson, 11 times in the 15 races they’ve both competed in and he’s been improving. He’s had a little bad luck, but Annett is quietly exceeding expectations for a rookie driver with an underdog team.

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

Our pick last week as well, AJ Allmendinger wasn’t as strong at Michigan as he might have been, finishing a fourth-in-class 24th on the day.

As the series swings west to Sonoma for the first road course event of the year, though, Allmendinger remains my pick. In two starts in the Nationwide Series last year, both on road courses, Allmendinger won both times out. True, that was in one of the best cars in the field, but Allmendinger still made it happen with a crew he hadn’t had time to gel with. Look for him to be top of the small-team class this week…and don’t be surprised if he beats several of the sport’s elite. Victory Lane? Not likely, but not totally out of reach.

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/79347/the-big-six-qu…en-loans-400-2). 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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