Coming in, AJ Allmendinger was a road course ringer. His win at Road America earlier this season helped support that title. Starting second at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course didn’t hurt, either.
Saturday afternoon, Allmendinger became a road course winner, surviving the chaotic inaugural event in Lexington, Ohio. He had the entire field covered until a caution flew with two to go, Kenny Habul stuck in a sand pit. As soon as a green-white-checkered was imminent, the engine of the No. 22 and many other cars fell silent. Fuel strategy was a looming concern.
“I kinda expected it,” Allmendinger admitted in a press conference after the nail-biter. “It was going so smooth that I knew something was going to happen.”
However, the Penske driver prevailed, winning in the car that took Brad Keselowski to Watkins Glens victory lane last weekend.
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins aided in last week’s win, and he was also on the pit box for the Road America. “These cars are just fast, but there’s a good thing about having multiple drivers…you learn something different from each of them.”
The No. 22 is now leading the owner’s points by, ironically, 22 points.
Another Penske driver also had his day in the sun. Sam Hornish Jr. finished third, and he now leads the championship points, thirteen over Elliott Sadler. As expected, Hornish was strong, surging through the field at times. But it wasn’t enough for a win.
“The setup on the 22 is great every weekend,” he said. “I don’t think anyone could really touch him.”
As for the points lead, the driver of the No. 12 hopes the momentum carries over to a championship later this season.
Michael McDowell started on the pole and finished second, bringing home a solid race for the No. 18 team and Joe Gibbs. Though he only led eight laps, it was a definite that he would’ve gotten into Allmendinger -if he could’ve caught him, and even The Dinger knew it.
Of McDowell, the race winner praised him, saying, “He’s talented. I raced karts with him. He was pushed into [the Sprint Cup series] early, just like me…if that wouldn’t have happened, who knows what he could’ve done. But he’s very talented.”
As the sun sets over Mid-Ohio, the No. 22 grab another victory with AJ Allmendinger behind the wheel. It didn’t come easy, but he is a road course winner yet again.
Point Standings after Mid-Ohio
1. Sam Hornish Jr. (-)
2. Elliott Sadler (-13)
3. Regan Smith (-15)
3. Austin Dillon (-15)
5. Brian Vickers (-18)
6. Justin Allgaier (-47)
7. Brian Scott (-63)
8. Trevor Bayne (-73)
9. Kyle Larson (-74)
10. Parker Kligerman (-82)