Allmendinger Scores Career-Best Sprint Cup Finish
Allmendinger Finishes Second, Keselowski Ninth at Martinsville
A.J. Allmendinger finished second in Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, a career best in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. Teammate Brad Keselowski finished ninth. It’s the first time this season both Dodge drivers have posted top-10 finishes at the same event.
Allmendinger started the day in the medical center, receiving treatment for flu-like symptoms. “I felt horrible this morning, just sick,” he said.
It took a pair of late-race cautions to move Allmendinger from a sure top-10 finish into position to challenge Ryan Newman for the win. The race had only one caution in the first 246 laps and seven for the race. However, the final two not only extended the race beyond the scheduled 500 laps for a pair of attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, but totally reshuffled the list of drivers contending for the win.
Keselowski was running fifth in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger and Allmendinger was eighth in the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger with three laps remaining. A car stalled on the track brought out the caution, setting up the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were running one-two and had been dominant. Gordon had led 328 laps and Johnson 112. Both elected to stay on the track while the rest of the leaders headed to pit road for tires and a splash of fuel.
On the restart, Keselowski lined up fourth and Allmendinger ninth. The field didn’t make it through Turn One as the front three cars – Gordon, Johnson and Clint Bowyer – tangled. All three lost control. Allmendinger emerged through the mishap second behind Newman while Keselowski had to work his way around the spinning cars. He was posted as ninth when the field was sorted out for another attempt for a green-white-checkered finish.
Allmendinger and Newman battled door-to-door for the first lap before Newman used a strong run off Turn Four and moved into the lead as the field took the white flag.
“I’m really happy with the finish, but more than anything, just happy with the day,” said Allmendinger. “Everybody was really solid on the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge today. Hopefully, we can take this momentum and what we learned today, take the off week and keep building on it going into Texas.
“These guys work hard, everybody on the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge team. They deserve to run up front. They’re use to running up front. I’m trying everything I can do to get these guys up front. Todd Gordon and all these guys, the Penske organization, they’re behind me. It feels good to have an organization behind you even when you feel like you’re struggling a little bit.”
Allmendinger’s previous best finish this season was a 15th last week at Auto Club Speedway.
Keselowski, who overcame a pit road speeding penalty and had worked himself into position for a solid fifth-place finish when the caution appeared with three laps remaining, is still puzzled about how the cars were lined up for the final restart.
“First off, go back to the yellow with the 10 car (David Reutimann) stopped on the track,” said Keselowski. “That was really, really uncalled for and ruined the day for a lot of people; it kept Jeff, Jimmie and myself from having better finishes. I think we’re all really, really frustrated with that guy. We came in and got tires and definitely had a shot at the race (win), at least a top-four or -five finish for sure. Then the question comes, what’s the lineup for that last restart? That’s hard to tell. I don’t have all the info, whether they went by a loop, where the yellow came out or whether it was video review. My gut says we should have been a lot further ahead of where we were allowed to restart. I don’t have all the info, so it was one of those deals. I’m proud of my team. We had a really fast Miller Lite Dodge. We’ve got a lot of momentum. That stuff is going to go good or bad. You’ll get the good ones and you’ll get the bad ones. Today, we got the bad side of it. If we keep having runs like that, we’ll get more wins.”
The finish moved Keselowski up four spots in the season standings. He’s now 12th, 51 points behind the leader and 14 out of 10th.
“To come out of here with two top 10s is really good,” said Penske Racing’s Competition Director Travis Geisler. “It’s disappointing what happened with the 2 car; we felt they could contend for the win today. We had the issue with the pit road speeding penalty, recovered from that, but couldn’t recover from the lack of judgment I guess on that restart. It ruined the day for a lot of teams that ran up front all race. That’s the way it goes. A great finish for A.J. (Allmendinger) and the 22 team, a career best finish for him. We’re really happy to be a part of that. We think there’s a lot more to come from that team. Two top 10s, a good day. ”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Goody's Fast Relief 500
1. Ryan Newman
2. A.J. ALLMENDINGER
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Tony Stewart
8. Aric Almirola
9. BRAD KESELOWSKI
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Carl Edwards
12. Jimmie Johnson
NASCAR Sprint Cup
(After 6 of 36 races)
1. Greg Biffle 226
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -6
3. Tony Stewart -12
4. Matt Kenseth -12
5. Kevin Harvick -12
6. Martin Truex Jr. -12
7. Denny Hamlin -16
8. Ryan Newman -24
9. Clint Bowyer -34
10. Jimmie Johnson -37
11. Carl Edwards -47
12. BRAD KESELOWSKI -51
20. A.J. ALLMENDINGER -83
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