When asked what Indianapolis Motor Speedway means to A.J. Allmendinger he responded, “There is no bigger track for me.” Then it should be no surprise that it was a dream come true for the road course ace to win for the second year-in-a-row at the one facility that is so dear to his heart.
Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger raised his level of performance to meet the occasion last weekend when he won the pole for the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard and went on to dominate the closing laps of the race to win by 2.084-seconds over second-place Alex Bowman.
Although that was his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win at the track, he was no stranger to kissing the bricks. In last season’s Cup Series race at Indianapolis, he shocked the premier series by racing his way to the finish line to claim his first career win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was also Kaulig Racing’s first Cup win.
Allmendinger seems to have a knack for road courses as all three of his wins this season have been on road courses (COTA, Portland, Indianapolis) and he currently sits as the all-time road course wins leader in the Xfinity Series with nine victories.
The No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet driver has posted at least one win on all Xfinity Series road courses on the circuit except for one – Watkins Glen International. But he just might check it off his list when the Xfinity Series heads to “The Glen” on August 20 as he has posted a runner-up finish in two out of his three starts at the track.
With three wins, nine top fives and 17 top 10s this season thus far, Allmendinger is definitely keeping his eye on the Regular Season Championship. He currently leads the standings with 789 points, up 17 points from JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier in second place and up 30 points from Ty Gibbs in third.
To keep his lead, he’ll have to bring the heat to the remaining tracks on the regular season schedule – Michigan, Watkins Glen, Daytona, Darlington, Kansas and Bristol.
Here’s a look at how he’s done on the tracks that make up the rest of the regular season:
- Michigan – Posted a win in his only Xfinity Series start at the track (2021)
- Watkins Glen – Two runner-up finishes (2018, 2021) in three starts
- Daytona – Three top fives and three top 10s in five starts. He finished runner-up there in February
- Darlington – Has posted one top 10 (2022) in three Xfinity Series starts
- Kansas – One top five and one top 10 in two starts
- Bristol – One win (2021), one top five and two top 10s in two starts
- Next Race: New Holland 250
- The Place: Michigan International Speedway
- The Date: Saturday, August 6
- The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- The Purse: $1,269,941
- TV: USA, 3 p.m. ET
- Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
- Distance: 250 miles (125 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),
- Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 125)
Back on the oval in the Michigan Irish Hills
The NASCAR Xfinity Series had some fun making left and right turns last weekend but will now switch gears to race on Michigan International Speedway’s two-mile oval for the New Holland 250 on Saturday, August 6 at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR radio.
Michigan International Speedway has produced 21 race winners and 22 pole winners in 29 Xfinity Series races. Of the 29 Xfinity events, only three races have been won from the pole or first starting position (Brad Keselowski – 2010, Carl Edwards – 2008, Jeff Burton – 1998).
Eight different drivers are tied for most wins at the track with two victories each – Todd Bodine (1992, 2000), Kyle Busch (2004, 2015), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1999, 2006), Denny Hamlin (2007, 2017), Carl Edwards (2008, 2011), Brad Keselowski (2009, 2010), Mark Martin (1993, 1995) and Ryan Newman (2001, 2005). Of the 21 former winners at Michigan International Speedway, only one is entered in this weekend’s New Holland 250 – AJ Allmendinger (2021).
Michigan International Speedway is a place of firsts for a few drivers – Ryan Newman (2001) and Daniel Suarez (2016) each posted their first win at the track while Derrike Cope (1994), Kasey Kahne (2003) and Austin Dillon (2012) each won their first pole.
The drivers will jump start the weekend on Saturday with practice at 9:05 a.m. ET followed by qualifying at 9:35 a.m. ET streamed on the NBC Sports App.
Michigan winners streak
Michigan International Speedway is currently riding a wave of different winners in the NASCAR Xfinity Series that has reached 11 different winners and dates back to 2010. This weekend, the New Holland 250 has the chance to produce a 12th different winner and keep the streak going. Only one former winner is entered in this weekend’s Xfinity Series race in hopes of becoming the first repeat winner in 11 races and defend his 2021 victory, A.J. Allmendinger.
The streak of different winners began in 2010 with Brad Keselowski, then Carl Edwards (2011), Joey Logano (2012), Regan Smith (2013), Paul Menard (2014), Kyle Busch (2015), Daniel Suarez (2016), Denny Hamlin (2017), Austin Dillon (2018), Tyler Reddick (2019) and AJ Allmendinger (2021). The series did not compete at Michigan in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Although Allmendinger is the only driver entered in this weekend’s New Holland 250 with a win, there are a few drivers that may bring the heat to keep the streak alive.
In JR Motorsports’ Noah Gragson’s two starts at the two-mile Michigan track, he’s posted a runner-up finish (2019) and third-place finish (2021). This season, he’s already posted three wins and has brought his A-game on superspeedways, finishing third in Daytona and posting a win at Talladega. Perhaps win number four will come this weekend at Michigan.
JRM teammate Justin Allgaier has given the track a go 10 times, posting two top fives and six top 10s. He’s had a standout season thus far, already with three wins, nine top fives and 14 top 10s. With the experience he has on the track, he’ll look to use it to his advantage to pull off his fourth win of the season and the 20th of his Xfinity Series career.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
RCR’s Austin Hill to make Cup Series debut – NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie Austin Hill will be making his Cup Series debut this weekend at Michigan International Speedway in a third Richard Childress Racing entry. He will be behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet.
“Austin Hill has shown talent in every series he’s raced in during his career, so I couldn’t be more excited to have him behind the wheel of a Cup Series car,” said Richard Childress. “He’s having a strong season in the Xfinity Series, and I know he will be just as competitive and eager to learn behind the wheel of a Cup Series car.”
Hill will become the eighth different driver to make their NASCAR Cup Series career debut this season; joining Todd Gilliland (Daytona), Noah Gragson (Daytona), Loris Hezemans (COTA), Josh Williams (Bristol Dirt), Zane Smith (Gateway), Ty Gibbs (Pocono) and Daniil Kvyat (Indianapolis RC).
Ty Gibbs to make third Cup Series start at Michigan – Nineteen-year-old Ty Gibbs was called up to fill in for Kurt Busch in his No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota following an incident during Busch Light Pole Qualifying at Pocono Raceway. Although his only prior experience in a Cup Series car was on a simulator, he pulled off a 16th-place finish.
After Busch was not cleared to run in last weekend’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, Gibbs was once again asked to get behind the wheel of Busch’s No. 45 Toyota for the race and he seemed a little more comfortable this time around racing his way up to a 17th-place finish after starting in the 26th position.
Now, Gibbs will have to run double duty this weekend and get into the No. 45 Toyota for a third time as Busch has still not been cleared to get behind the wheel. Busch released the following statement via social media:
“While I am continuing to make improvements every day and can‘t wait to get back in the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD, I have yet to be cleared to return to competition and will not be participating in the NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. I know Ty (Gibbs) will continue to do a great job representing 23XI and the No. 45 Monster Energy team this weekend in Michigan. I am working hard to get back to 100% and it‘s my hope to be back in the car at Richmond Raceway. Thanks to everyone for the continued support and I look forward to being back on track soon.”
Gibbs has posted one Xfinity Series start at Michigan International Speedway (2021) and finished 13th.