Race Weekend Central

Xfinity Breakdown: AJ Allmendinger Smooches the Bricks, Ross Chastain Makes More Enemies Than Friends

“It’s a group effort, a group effort!” AJ Allmendinger said as he cruised to yet another road course victory on Saturday (July 30) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Allmendinger and road course wins have become somewhat a given in the recent years of the series, and Allmendinger added to that fame, leading 42 of the 62 laps of the Pennzoil 150.

Noah Gragson and Josh Berry took home stages one and two, respectively, and Alex Bowman, Justin Allgaier, Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top five as plenty of NASCAR Cup Series drivers looked to gain some much needed track time before Sunday’s (July 31) race.

While it was a dominating performance for Allmendinger, some others had a much more difficult day at the office, despite some high finishes.

The Winners

Usually I try to leave the race winner off this list for obvious reasons, but I just couldn’t after that performance. Not entirely because of what Allmendinger did, though, but what he opened the door for himself to do on Sunday.

See also
Noah Gragson Finishes 10th at Indy After Another Run-In With Sage Karam

Allmendinger won last year’s Cup race at the Brickyard, and now, with his third Xfinity win of the season (all of which have come on road courses, by the way) Allmendinger has a shot at sweeping the entire weekend for Kaulig Racing. Last year’s win was the lone Cup Series victory for Kaulig last season, and if he can do it again, Allmendinger will be able to write himself even further into the history books of the young team.

With such a dominating performance, it’s tough to find someone else who truly won the day, but there’s always a silver lining somewhere, right? That silver lining was that although they may not have finished where they wanted, the JR Motorsports boys made their presence known. Gragson and Berry took home a pair of stage wins and all four drivers found their way inside the top 15.

The Losers

Chastain, straight off the rip.

If you’ve followed the Cup Series at all this season, you should know that Chastain’s antics have made him public enemy number one to plenty of folks in the garage. Several drivers have voiced their displeasure with the way he’s raced people this season, and for the most part I agree with them.

That, apparently, isn’t just contained to the Cup Series, either. Sheldon Creed was running in fourth, trying to take a spot in the playoffs, when Chastain made contact with him. The radio feed wasn’t exactly family friendly after the incident. Chastain just continues to make friends, doesn’t he?

After the race, Frontstretch‘s Daniel McFadin caught up with Chastain to ask him about the incident.

“I would race him way better than I would race other people,” Chastain said. Do with that quote what you will.

Lap 25 was an interesting one for sure, as both Monster Energy-sponsored cars decided to find a way to get pointed in the wrong direction just moments apart. Ty Gibbs  spun out in turn 1, and Riley Herbst promptly followed in the next slalom. Both were running at the front of the pack at the time of their accidents, neither of which resulted in a caution. They both wound up finishing inside the top 10 at the end of the day, though, with Herbst crossing the line in sixth and Gibbs in eighth.

See also
AJ Allmendinger Kisses the Bricks, Wins Xfinity Race at Indy Road Course

Scheme of the Week

To quote the great lyricist and musician Beyonce, “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.”

Not only is Louisiana Hot Sauce freaking delicious, it also apparently lends itself to a great color palette when it comes to designing paint schemes. Yellow and red will always make a car pop, no matter how you use them. However, when you use them in flames, it makes it even better. Hats off to whoever it was that made this design; it’s in my top five on the season.

The Playoff Pit

Yet again, absolutely nothing has changed as far as winners go, with Allmendinger adding his third of the season. With only six races to go before the cut off, time is running out for drivers to lock themselves in with a win. Currently joining Allmendinger on wins are Gragson, Allgaier, Gibbs, Berry, Brandon Jones and Austin Hill. That leaves five spots up for grabs in terms of points if the season ended today. You can keep up with the points standings here.

Fuel for Thought

The idea has been shopped around plenty to bring back racing on the oval at the Brickyard, and people can talk about that all they want. I, however, am choosing to go a different route.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, and I’ll be damned if that wasn’t some of the best racing I’ve seen all year. Not only was it good racing, but the place was absolutely packed out — something that rarely happens in the Truck Series (or Xfinity, for that matter).

That race got me thinking: why couldn’t Xfinity run there AND the Brickyard in the same year? Yes. I get that they’re a stone’s throw away from each other, but the fans in the area eat up the sport. They’d kill for multiple events each year, at least on the Xfinity side of things. They wouldn’t even have to be back-to-back with the tracks being well placed within the Midwest.

You would have one short track race during one half of the season at IRP, then another superspeedway or road course at IMS. It would be a fine replacement for any of the lesser attended cookie-cutter 1.5-milers, that’s for sure.

Where to Next?

Next up is the New Holland 250 at Michigan International Speedway. Allmendinger actually won this race last season, too, in triple overtime. Now, though, with the playoff window starting to close, fans can expect the drivers that need a win to come out guns blazing. That race begins on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 3:30 p.m. ET and can be found on USA Network, the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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The media is just digging for a story with Chastain now. Big deal so they traded some paint. And who was it that put both Monster cars in the grass? Not a peep about that.


Ross Chastain is becoming a big pain in the a** for the other drivers He’s talented, no doubt, but he has made a practice of running into nearly everyone on the tracks he runs. He needs to learn to get along.

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