AJ Allmendinger Tops Playoff Contenders In Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL Victory

AJ Allmendinger Tops Playoff Contenders In Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL Victory

by October 8, 2023 1 comment

CONCORD, N.C. – AJ Allmendinger dominated the final laps of Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to claim his third-career NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Allmendinger led the final 33 laps in his Kaulig Racing No. 16 Celsius Chevrolet, but he had to survive five late-race restarts. In the closing laps, Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron attempted to chase him down, but he just didn’t have enough speed to catch Allmendinger, who is considered a stout road course racer. The win is Allmendinger’s first of the season, and his first since the Indianapolis Road Course in 2021. The Los Gatos, California native now has three series wins.

“This is why you do it,” Allmendinger said. “This is the only reason you do it. You fight. All the blood, sweat, tears, everybody at Kaulig Racing has just been such — I’d say a down year, but up-and-down year. It’s our second year in the Cup Series.”

Byron was already locked into the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Playoffs thanks to his win at Texas Motor Speedway, but he was looking to win his seventh victory of the season on Sunday. The runner-up had a few instances when we could have gotten to the rear of Allmendinger’s car, but the opportunities passed by.

“Yeah, just one final run to get within a car length there,” Byron said. “The air buffer is kind of tough there with three to four car lengths, but once you get within one you can kind of manipulate his car a little bit. I was just hoping for that.

“But he’s obviously great here and great at all the road courses. I had that one shot with probably eight to go. He did a good job blocking the chicane there and he didn’t miss his marks, and it was too early to make a dive bomb move.”

Kyle Busch had a valiant effort on Sunday, but this third-place finish wasn’t enough to advance in the NASCAR Playoffs. In the Round of 12, Busch had a DNF at Texas Motor Speedway and finished 25th at Talladega Superspeedway. At the ROVAL, Busch earned stage points in every stage, but he didn’t have the speed to keep up with Allmendinger and Byron.

“The guys gave me a great piece today,” Busch said. “The Lenovo Camaro was pretty fast, just lacked a little bit on the long run, just didn’t quite have the feel of the tire that I was really looking for to be able to turn into the corners and to be able to drive out of the corners and keep pace with the front two there at the end.”

Ty Gibbs and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Polesitter Tyler Reddick finished sixth, followed by Chris Buescher, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott and Ross Chastain who also didn’t advance in the Playoffs.

Reddick won Stage 1, and Chase Elliott won Stage 2.

There were seven cautions for 18 laps.

NASCAR Playoff contender, Denny Hamlin spun on two occasions. The first came when Michael McDowell struggled through the frontstretch chicane and backed up the field. Hamlin’s second spin occurred when Hamlin overdrove the same turn and was hit hard by Ty Dillon. Hamlin finished dead last, but thanks to his stage points in Stage 2, he will advance to the Round of 8.

“Just once we got back there it’s just so hard to pass,” Hamlin said. “Overdrove a corner that was about it, really. Thanks to the whole Mavis team for giving me a solid car we qualified with. Obviously, with the scenarios going on it’s like if you stay out for a stage, you just go back to the back and you’re never to be seen again.”

Advancing to the Round of 8 includes William Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney.

Failing to advance were Brad Keselowski, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch.

The first race of the Round of 8 will be held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 15. Live coverage of the South Point 400 will broadcast on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Mitchell White/TheFourthTurn.com

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