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Allmendinger misses big finish on NASCAR return in Richmond

Apr 29, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

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AJ Allmendinger just missed a top finish in his last scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in Richmond, before he ramps up preparation for his Indianapolis 500 debut for the month of May.

Allmendinger, who last raced in NASCAR at Auto Club Speedway more than a month ago, once again made something out of almost nothing in the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet.

Had it not been for the late caution that jumbled the field, brought most of the field to pit road for fresher tires and bunched the field together for a green-white-checkered finish, Allmendinger could have cracked the top five.

Instead, he posted a 14th-place result from 24th on the grid. Allmendinger has finished between 11th and 16th in each of his four starts for Phoenix this year, respectable if underwhelming by his own wishes.

“I suck in qualifying this year. Need to work on it. Drive hard tomorrow,” Allmendinger tweeted after qualifying on Friday.

Come the race on Saturday: “Hard fought day by my guys @stevo511 @PhoenixRacing51 proud of their effort as always. Not sure why we struggled so bad on last green run. Great call by CC Nick Harrison to stay out on GWC finish. Did all I could with old tires. Wish I could have gotten the team a better finish.”

Allmendinger’s focus shifts back to IndyCar with Team Penske after a frustrating Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, where his gearbox broke in Turn 5. Rookie orientation for the 500 occurs May 11-12, on opening weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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