Aug 11, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
At any other time, A.J. Allmendinger’s triumph on Sunday at Watkins Glen International would be hailed.
His win in the Cheez-It 355 was his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
It propelled him and his single-car JTG Daugherty Racing team into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
And it came after an electrifying battle over the last two laps with Marcos Ambrose, a driver equally skilled as he is in road racing, if not more so.
Then there’s the comeback aspect.
In 2012, Allmendinger failed a drug test and subsequently lost his full-time Sprint Cup ride with Team Penske. That led to a 2013 season in which he kept jumping between stock cars and open-wheel, where he first rose to fame as an American star in the tail end of the Champ Car era.
He then decided that NASCAR was where he needed to be and signed up for a full-time return to Cup this year with the small JTG Daugherty outfit.
And now, with Sunday’s win, they’re all going to be fighting the giants – Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and the like – for a championship this fall.
Allmendinger’s won some big races in his career, including the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona after holding off sports car ace Allan McNish in a great duel.
But considering everything he’s gone through, which he dubbed vividly yesterday as “absolute hell,” this is the topper.
When you think about it, this story has everything. Sadly, it also has unfortunate timing.
The shocking sprint car incident on Saturday night that involved SHR co-owner Tony Stewart and took the life of young Kevin Ward Jr. has become the talk of the sports world.
As investigators continue to hunt for any bits of information that can help them reach a final say on the matter, many in the fan base and in the media community have already – and loudly – taken sides.
And through it all, Ward’s family and Stewart are all having to come to grips with the fact that this will be with them for the rest of their days, no matter the final judgment from the authorities.
It’s a difficult situation that will only get tougher in the days and weeks ahead. And right now, it’s casting a dark cloud over all of motorsports.
Some could compellingly argue that it’s overshadowing Allmendinger’s moment in the sun. Other winners this year – notably Aric Almirola at the July Daytona race and Brad Keselowski at Loudon a week later – were overshadowed by accidents, so Allmendinger joins that unfortunate club.
But that doesn’t really matter in this instance. As beautiful as Allmendinger’s win was to see, it means nothing compared to matters of life and death.
However, to his great credit, Allmendinger struck the right tone on the subject after taking the checkered flag.
“This NASCAR community as a whole, we’re a family, and when anything like that happens, it’s something that you don’t just kind of erase and you forget about,” he said.
“And all of our thoughts and prayers, and it may not seem like it, or I wish there was more to do, but it goes to the Ward family and what happened. It also goes to Tony because it’s not like he’s sitting there and forgetting about it. It’s a tough scenario.
“You just try to come together. That’s all you can do. You try to be thankful every day for the things that we have, the things that we’re able to share together, and you also know that there’s a lot less fortunate out there and there’s a lot of disasters, whether it’s in racing or not.”
Think of the Wards. Think of Stewart. Be thankful for what you’ve got and who you’ve got to share them with. Be mindful of those that are troubled.
Allmendinger’s victory may not get its proper due. But he still deserves our thanks for that much-needed dose of perspective, and for lifting our spirits on what was an otherwise dreary Sunday.
Jul 28, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.
Jul 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of NHRA’s Pro Stock class have been greatly exaggerated.
Jul 28, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT
Simon Pagenaud swaps firesuit for street clothes when driving the Penske Truck Rental truck, playing “mover” this weekend.
Jul 28, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT
The latest car for Austin Cindric is a Lamborghini at Mid-Ohio this weekend.
Jul 28, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT
Zanardi still wants to race the Indy 500, if possible.
Jul 28, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT
Singapore Grand Prix circuit to adjust Turns 11 to 13.
Jul 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Sherwin-Williams joins the Hulman Motorsports family as Official Paint and Finishing Partner.
Jul 28, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT
We check in with NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell for latest “Ten with Townsend” insights, post the Iowa race and heading into Mid-Ohio.
Jul 27, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT
Good news, Ricciardo made the podium. Bad news, his trophy didn’t survive it.
Jul 27, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT
Jakes kept his visor down after all on a pit stop in Iowa.
Jul 27, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT
A quick look back at Chaves’ short track debut.
Jul 27, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Karam needs a clean, consistent weekend at Mid-Ohio.
Jul 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Rahal and Force compete against each other in a series of fun challenges at Sonoma.
Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
If another Dixon Mid-Ohio win happens, it will save his championship chances.
After blowing his chance to cut the gap to Hamilton, Rosberg must now avoid the mistakes of last summer
Jul 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Luke Smith considers the fall-out of a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix that saw both Mercedes drivers miss an opportunity to seize control of the drivers’ championship.
Jul 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Manor makes it through a difficult weekend by getting both of its cars to the finish in Hungary.
Jul 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Vettel storms to his 41st career victory in Hungary as both Mercedes drivers hit trouble.
Jul 26, 2015, 11:09 PM EDT
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won in Sunday’s NHRA Mopar Mile-High Nationals.
Jul 26, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
Sandell finally gets on the board in Round 6 of the Red Bull GRC season.
Jul 26, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
The F1 grid comes together ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix to pay its respects to Jules Bianchi.
- NHRA: Big changes coming to Pro Stock this weekend, next season 0
- Report: Alex Zanardi keen to make Indianapolis 500 debut 4
- Ten with Townsend: Milwaukee and Iowa debrief 0
- For Dixon, it’s likely Mid-Ohio or bust in terms of 2015 IndyCar title hopes 0
- Race Recap: Vettel draws level with Senna on all-time win list with victory in Hungary 3
- NHRA Mile-High Nationals winners: Torrence, Beckman, Morgan, Krawiec 2
- F1 grid unites to pay tribute to Jules Bianchi (VIDEO) 1