WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – For Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger, the Go Bowling at the Glen Sunday (Aug. 20) was the time to put forth a strong showing. Winning would be nice, but it wasn’t guaranteed. Ultimately, Allmendinger was strong all day and brought home a fourth-place finish, his second top-five finish of the year.
“It was pretty good [today],” Allmendinger told Frontstretch after the race. “[We] obviously had a top-five car all day. I thought we executed a good race, but it’s super hard to pass. Everyone’s so close at the front. The tires don’t fall off much, so you have to try to force a guy into a mistake [in order to pass].”
Allmendinger continued on to say that he thought that he was stronger than Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell, whom he spent much of the final run of the race stalking. The equality of the top runners made it difficult to get to the point where he could set up Bell for a pass. Allmendinger did state that he didn’t really have anything for race winner William Byron.
Going into the race, Allmendinger was considered to be one of the favorites based on his 2014 victory and overall strong form on road courses. He didn’t seem worried at all prior to the race.
“No. Why would there be pressure [on me],” Allmendinger stated during his bullpen session Saturday. “We’re here and we try to win every weekend. If it happens, then we make the playoffs. If not, then [oh well]. We don’t stress about it much at Kaulig Racing..
“The goal is to try to be in the playoffs and to try to have a shot at [the championship]. But this is a building program that we’re just trying to make faster.”
Sunday’s race was unlike any other in the Modern Era of NASCAR, a sub-two-hour race that ran to the full scheduled distance. The average speed of 111.426 mph was a typical green-flag pace for Watkins Glen International races in the late 1990s. With races like that, preparation before hitting the track is key.
“The last two weeks, we’ve had one yellow flag [each race],” Allmendinger continued. “You have to execute from the very start of the weekend to the end.”
Allmendinger and his Kaulig No. 16 team managed to do just that in Watkins Glen. He was fastest overall in practice Saturday, then qualified sixth. During the race, Allmendinger was a constant presence around the leaders, always keeping in touch. That is the kind of performance that will typically lead to good things.
The finish moved Allmendinger up two places to 19th in NASCAR Cup Series points. However, he is 72 points behind Bubba Wallace in 14th, the final driver in the playoffs on points at the moment. As a result, the only way that Allmendinger will be in the playoffs this year is if he wins Saturday night in the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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