Skip to content

A.J. Allmendinger breaks into Chase with 1st career Sprint Cup win

Aug 10, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT

Cheez-It 355 At The Glen Getty Images

In a battle of perhaps the two best road racers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, A.J. Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose went toe-to-toe for the win today at Watkins Glen International after a restart with two laps to go.

In the end, the clash of the titans went to Allmendinger, who held off a major challenge from Ambrose on the penultimate lap and pulled away to win the Cheez-It 355.

With his inaugural Sprint Cup victory, Allmendinger has also effectively earned himself a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup as the 12th different driver to win this season.

In the process, he may have denied Ambrose his best opportunity to also make the post-season with four regular season races to go.

“I love you guys! Thank you!,” Allmendinger hollered as he celebrated by doing burnouts in his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet.

When he arrived in Victory Lane, Allmendinger made sure to acknowledge the family of Kevin Ward Jr., the 20-year old racer that was killed Saturday night in New York State when three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart‘s car struck him under caution in an sprint car event.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” Allmendinger said of the Wards. “We’re a community here, and we’re all thinking about you.”

Stewart did not compete in today’s race, and his No. 14 car was instead driven by Nationwide Series racer Regan Smith.

The day started somber with news of the Stewart/Ward incident, whose investigation remains ongoing at this time.

But for Allmendinger, the day ended happily as he celebrated the culmination of a two-year saga that began with him losing his full-time Sprint Cup ride with Team Penske in 2012 after he failed a drug test.

After getting reinstated by NASCAR for completing its Road to Recovery program, Allmendinger bounced around in 2013 between part-time gigs in Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series, and the Verizon IndyCar Series – racing in the latter two leagues for his old Cup boss, Roger Penske.

He made the most of his second chance by earning two Nationwide road course wins for Penske at Road America and Mid-Ohio. And last August, he announced his full-time return to Cup with JTG Daugherty starting this season.

Now, he’s put the small, single-car outfit into the hunt for stock car racing’s ultimate prize.

“My gosh, I can’t believe we’ve won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race,” Allmendinger beamed. “With this whole 47 team – [team owners] Tad Geschickter, Jody Geschickter, Brad Daugherty, all the great sponsors we have – our first Cup victory together, my first victory…I love these guys.

“I just wanted it so bad for them and this team. They work so hard. I wasn’t gonna let Marcos take that from me.”

A rash of late cautions set the stage for the final duel between Allmendinger and Ambrose. With 13 laps to go, Josh Wise came to a stop off of the bus stop chicane to bring out the yellow.

The top eight drivers – with Allmendinger and Ambrose at the front of the field – stayed out during the caution. But the restart with nine laps to go was short-lived when in Turn 1, Kyle Larson appeared to tap Matt Kenseth, who then went up into Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson spun around on the track and with nowhere to go, Smith was collected.

After that was cleaned up, another restart took place with five to go and had Ambrose go to the inside of Allmendinger as they entered the esses. The two remained side by side until they got to the inner loop, when Ambrose finally cleared him to take the point.

But Allmendinger responded by getting a run off the final Turn 7 corner and went inside on Ambrose down the front stretch.

Allmendinger was in the middle of completing the pass before the caution came out again for two separate incidents involving Denny Hamlin and Alex Kennedy.

Hamlin spun out of Turn 7 and slid into the water/sand barrels that cover the start of the concrete pit road barrier. Meanwhile, Kennedy made contact with Reed Sorenson in Turn 1 and slammed into the ARMCO barrier.

The twin incidents brought out the third red flag of the afternoon, with the first two reds stemming from a violent, multi-car crash on Lap 56 that primarily involved Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, and Michael McDowell.

Allmendinger and Ambrose quickly went to the front after the race resumed under green at Lap 60, and stayed there as all of the late yellows set up their wild battle to the end.

Following the restart with two laps left, Allmendinger held back Ambrose until Turn 5, when Ambrose got into the back of Allmendinger, pushing him up the track.

But Allmendinger hung tough on the inside going down the short stretch into the left-hand Turn 6. Going into the corner, Ambrose had to give up space for Allmendinger, who took the point and left Ambrose to fight off Kurt Busch for runner-up honors.

Busch wound up third, while Larson finished fourth and Carl Edwards rounded out the Top 5.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International
Unofficial Results

1. 47-AJ Allmendinger, led 30 laps
2. 9-Marcos Ambrose, led 19 laps
3. 41-Kurt Busch
4. 42-Kyle Larson
5. 99-Carl Edwards, led 3 laps
6. 22-Joey Logano
7. 4-Kevin Harvick
8. 16-Greg Biffle
9. 20-Matt Kenseth
10. 55-Brian Vickers
11. 88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12. 5-Kasey Kahne, led 3 laps
13. 78-Martin Truex Jr.
14. 1-Jamie McMurray
15. 13-Casey Mears
16. 3-Austin Dillon
17. 51-Justin Allgaier
18. 43-Aric Almirola
19. 34-David Ragan
20. 17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21. 10-Danica Patrick
22. 38-David Gilliland
23. 36-Reed Sorenson
24. 11-Denny Hamlin
25. 32-Boris Said
26. 77-Nelson Piquet Jr.
27. 15-Clint Boywer
28. 48-Jimmie Johnson, led 6 laps
29. 40-Landon Cassill, Running, Lap 89
30. 66-Joe Nemechek, Running, Lap 89
31. 7-Michael Annett, Running, Lap 88
32. 27-Paul Menard, Running, Lap 87
33. 33-Alex Kennedy, Accident, Lap 86
34. 24-Jeff Gordon, led 29 laps, Running, Lap 86
35. 2-Brad Keselowski, Running, Lap 85
36. 23-Alex Bowman, Running, Lap 85
37. 14-Regan Smith, Accident, Lap 81
38. 98-Josh Wise, Running, Lap 78
39. 83-Ryan Truex, Suspension, Lap 69
40. 18-Kyle Busch, Running, Lap 69
41. 31-Ryan Newman, Lap 55, Accident
42. 95-Michael McDowell, Lap 55, Accident
43. 26-Cole Whitt, Lap 9, Accident

Latest Posts
  1. Power relieved, thankful to return to front row at Barber

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:11 PM EDT

    PowerBarber2 AP

    Second in qualifying a good day at the office for Will Power, as he’s in search of his first win of the year.

  2. Davey Hamilton to make driving comeback in next week’s IndyCar oval test

    Apr 25, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT

    DaveyKingdom Getty Images

    Davey Hamilton will have a one-off day back behind the wheel of a current day IndyCar, filling in for Townsend Bell at next week’s IndyCar open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  3. Indy Lights: Pigot follows up Barber pole with race one dominance

    Apr 25, 2015, 6:33 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Spencer Pigot dominates Indy Lights flag-to-flag in first race of weekend at Barber.

  4. WSR: Rowland wins Formula Renault 3.5 season-opener at Motorland Aragon

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    © Renault Sport © Renault Sport

    A surprise in Spain for Rowland as on-track winner Meindert van Buuren is hit with a time penalty for jumping the start.

  5. WEC: Jarvis ready for close battle at Spa and Le Mans

    Apr 25, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone Getty Images

    Audi no. 8 driver pleased with the team’s pace at Silverstone and in the recent test at Paul Ricard.

  6. Power, Penske to the fore in second IndyCar practice at Barber

    Apr 25, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT

    PowerBarberP2 AP

    Power on top in second IndyCar practice at Barber.

  7. MotoGP: Pedrosa making positive steps in injury recovery

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    MotoGP Qatar Getty Images

    Spanish rider was sidelined following the Qatar Grand Prix due to an arm pump injury.

  8. Sam Bird previews the Monaco ePrix circuit (VIDEO)

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    Formula E Championship In Buenos Aires - Cars Complete Shakedown Getty Images

    Preview the track that will host the next Formula E race on May 9.

  9. Dixon fastest in Barber opening practice in the Coca-Cola car

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT

    Dixon's car in pit lane, and with new signage. Photo: Tony DiZinno Dixon's car in pit lane, and with new signage. Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Scott Dixon takes the Coca-Cola car to the top of the first practice session at Barber.

  10. Villeneuve: Leaving Ferrari may have ended Alonso’s career

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Jacques Villeneuve Getty Images

    Former F1 world champion and Indy 500 winner hits out at Alonso’s move to McLaren and Manor’s inclusion on the grid.

  11. WATCH: IndyCar qualifying from Barber at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    Qualifying for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ race at Barber has been moved up to 5 p.m. ET, and 4 p.m. CT and local time on NBCSN.

  12. Lewis Hamilton tops British sporting rich list

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    Two-time F1 world champion named as the richest sportsman in Britain with a wealth of over $130m.

  13. Conor Daly confirmed for Indy 500 return, joins Schmidt Peterson

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:18 AM EDT

    Photo: SPM IndyCar Photo: SPM IndyCar

    Conor Daly has been confirmed in the Indianapolis 500 in SPM’s third car.

  14. Honda unveils new 2015 Accord safety car

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:11 PM EDT

    Photo: Honda Photo: Honda

    Honda takes the wraps off the new Accord safety car.

  15. Indy Lights: Pigot powers to pole in Barber

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:02 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Pigot scores his first Indy Lights pole at Barber.

  16. Formula E: Di Grassi anticipating “massive” Monaco ePrix

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    AUTO-FORMULAE-URU-RACE Getty Images

    Formula E’s championship leader looks ahead to his adopted home race in Monaco on May 9.

  17. Palmer comfortable in Lotus reserve role after FP1 run-outs

    Apr 24, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    2014 GP2 champion reflects on the opening four races of the year with Lotus.

  18. WSR: Comtec pulls out of first Formula Renault 3.5 round, parts company with Regalia after three days

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Grid falls to 20 cars for the Formula Renault 3.5 opener in Spain this weekend.

  19. Report: Indian government recognizes national motorsport federation, aiding F1 hopes

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of India - Race Getty Images

    The Indian Grand Prix was last held in 2013 at the Buddh International Circuit.