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.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Dutch youngster scores the best F1 qualifying result for a teenager in 54 years on Saturday in Malaysia.
Mar 28, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
Spanish driver will make his second debut for McLaren from 18th position on the grid tomorrow.
Mar 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
British driver explains the challenge of judging your qualifying lap in the wet after securing pole position in Malaysia on Saturday.
Mar 28, 2015, 7:49 AM EDT
Merhi and Stevens miss the 107% time required to qualify in Malaysia, but are granted dispensation by the FIA stewards.
Vettel hoping for more rain on Sunday after scoring Ferrari’s first front-row start in two years (VIDEO)
Mar 28, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT
Felipe Massa was the last driver to start on the front row of the grid for Ferrari, lining up second for the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Mar 28, 2015, 7:10 AM EDT
German driver cannot improve with his final lap in Q3, leaving him third on the grid behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Mar 28, 2015, 4:45 AM EDT
Could a thunderstorm rain on Mercedes parade? Join us for qualifying from 5a ET today.
Mar 28, 2015, 3:06 AM EDT
German driver edges out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in final practice at Sepang.
Mar 28, 2015, 1:30 AM EDT
FP3 for the Malaysian Grand Prix rolls off at 2 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Mar 27, 2015, 7:08 PM EDT
Rain washed out Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying for this weekend’s 6th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.
Mar 27, 2015, 6:03 PM EDT
No IndyCar second practice, and other notes from St. Petersburg.
Mar 27, 2015, 5:50 PM EDT
Michael Johnson in ICU after practice accident at St. Petersburg.
Mar 27, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Are Red Bull’s recent quibbles about Mercedes’ dominance well-reasoned, or is it simply a case of sour grapes?
Mar 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Marciello becomes the first Italian driver in four years to take part in an F1 weekend session.
Mar 27, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
2014 GP2 champion will take part in his first F1 grand prix weekend session in Shanghai.
Mar 27, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT
Will Power leads IndyCar’s opening practice session of 2015.
Mar 27, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
However, Renault could pull out of F1 altogether in the near future should it decide that its involvement is no longer viable.
Mar 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Hot conditions make for difficult running during practice on Friday.
Mar 27, 2015, 11:06 AM EDT
Wilson and Andretti – finally confirmed.
- Hamilton delighted after claiming 40th career pole (VIDEO) 0
- Hamilton tames wet conditions to grab pole in Malaysia 0
- Rosberg closes out Malaysian GP practice fastest 0
- NHRA: Rain washes out Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying four 4-Wide Nationals 2
- The Equalization Conundrum: Should F1 put sport to one side in favor of ‘the show’? 5
- Practice setbacks leave Hamilton “quite a bit off” in Malaysia (VIDEO) 2
- Verizon IndyCar Series 2015 preseason content roundup 0