A.J. Allmendinger‘s first full-time campaign in the NASCAR Xfinity Series was off to a tumultuous start, but he seems to have regained his footing in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A strong final stage in which he led 44 laps and held off the dominant car of Daniel Hemric enabled him to win his first race of the season and second career oval event.
Myatt Snider, winner at Homestead last week, started on the pole ahead of points leader Austin Cindric. Garrett Smithley began at the rear due to a driver change (J.J. Yeley was listed as Rick Ware Racing‘s #17 driver when the starting grid was set earlier in the week), while Jeffrey Earnhardt did so for unapproved adjustments.
Stages #1 and 2
Kyle Weatherman quickly fell off the pace due to mechanical troubles that forced him to the garage before returning 13 laps later. On lap 16, Stefan Parsons spun in turn four for a yellow flag, which took the place of the pre-planned competition caution. Parsons had drawn attention entering the week for featuring Dogecoin on his car; the cryptocurrency previously made waves during the 2014 Cup Series season when Josh Wise‘s car, which was owned by Parsons’ father Phil, sported a Dogecoin livery and made the All-Star Race with the help of a Reddit-led campaign.
Outside of Snider for the opening lap, Hemric and Cindric led the rest of the opening stage. The latter in particular led all but five laps in the segment en route to the stage win. Justin Haley, Hemric, A.J. Allmendinger, Brandon Jones, Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Riley Herbst, and Ty Dillon also received stage points.
Hemric and Cindric led the field to the start of Stage #2. Although trouble struck the latter when a tyre went down after just a lap, it subsided just as quickly as Dillon spun and collided with Herbst, triggering a caution that gave Cindric the free pass and enabled him to return to the lead lap. Herbst, a Las Vegas native, continues through his abysmal start at Stewart-Haas Racing; he has been involved in a wreck in each of the first four races, none of which were of his doing, and has yet to score a top ten.
“People spin in front of you,” Herbst said. “It’s happened probably the last three weeks where people have started wrecking in front of me and there’s no place for me to go, so something has got to change. This is an absolute shame.
“I just wanted to get a good race. Last week, we got fenced. The week before, people wrecked in front of us just like this week and it’s just a shame. I just want to run a full race without somebody wrecking in front of me.”
More troubles plagued the Ford camp when Ryan Sieg spun through the infield on lap 64 due to a downed tyre, resulting in terminal damage to his nose as the splitter dug into the grass. A pair of Chevrolets were behind the next yellow when Josh Berry clipped Haley. At the front, Hemric and Allgaier traded the lead throughout the stage before the former held him off for the segment win. Allmendinger took second ahead of Allgaier, followed by Jones, Brett Moffitt, Annett, Gragson, Harrison Burton, Brandon Brown, and Cindric.
Jones, Haley, and Allmendinger spent time in the lead for the early portion of the final segment before Cindric made contact with Burton and spun him. Both drivers still recorded top tens despite the incident. On Cindric’s side, he commented that Burton “just threw a block on the frontstretch and at that part of the racetrack the cars really unloaded. I was just driving hard. At the end of the day, it was probably pretty avoidable on both parties, but obviously he was able to keep it off the wall and get a top ten. Either way, that wasn’t really the catalyst for my day. We cut a tyre down when we were one of the best cars and it took us the entire race to get back to fourth, so we needed 100 more miles and maybe we would have had a shot with our Carquest Ford Mustang. All good on my end, just bad luck.”
“I made a block that I thought I had plenty of time on and apparently not,” Burton explained shortly after the race. “I don’t know, it’s hard to say. I literally just got out of the car. I would like to see it. It happened so fast and I don’t really know. Just really disappointing because we had so many issues and fought through them and got to where I thought we were a third-place car at the end. Then just had an unfortunate deal there.”
A restart on lap 180 only resulted in a single lap of green-flag racing before Dillon and Moffitt collided, sending the former spinning on the backstretch and collecting Alex Labbé, David Starr, and Starr.
Allmendinger held the lead for the restart with ten laps to go and drove off to the win. It is Allmendinger’s sixth Xfinity victory, his second on an oval (first came at Atlanta in 2020), and the eighth for Kaulig Racing.
“It’s emotional because you don’t know when you’re gonna do this again,” Allmendinger told FS1. “This could be the last one, I don’t know. I hope it’s not, I think we can do a lot more. (Team owner) Matt Kaulig, I love you, man. […]
“It’s just emotional. Matt gives me these opportunities, (president) Chris Rice, all of the men and women at Kaulig Racing that are here and back home that have made this possible: they’re working their tails off. I know every team says that and I’m sure they are, but we’ve put so much effort into making these cars better and it’s shown in the first four weeks. Didn’t get the finishes we want in the first couple, but it’s emotional.”
Hemric finished second ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Jones. Victory Lane continues to elude Hemric, who now has eight runner-up finishes in the Xfinity Series.
“We’ve had good finishes, but by far the most speed we’ve had,” Hemric stated. “We come here to win these races for sure. Disappointed to have one get away like that and get beat, but A.J. did an incredible job. Felt like our cars were fairly equal. I would be a little better than him on one part of the run and he would be better than me at one part of the run. I just took off on the splitter there on the last couple short runs.”
Other finishers of note include Gragson, who spent the week leading into the race embracing a bit of a heel identity after his run-in with Starr at Homestead, scoring JR Motorsports‘ first top five of the season in fifth; Santino Ferrucci finished thirteenth in his second career NASCAR start.
“You just learn that these races are so long. It doesn’t really matter what happens in stage one or two,” Ferrucci commented. More known for his open-wheel career including most recently racing full-time in the IndyCar Series, he débuted in NASCAR at Homestead. “It’s just important to keep the car clean and to listen and work with everybody and get it set right. Once you get it set right, you can come from anywhere to do well. I think our communication as a team, as a whole, from Homestead to Vegas was just miles different. I’m just looking forward to more of that.”
|1||10||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|2||3||18||Daniel Hemric||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|3||4||19||Brandon Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|4||2||22||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||200||Running|
|5||34||9||Noah Gragson||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|6||13||1||Michael Annett||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|7||9||8||Josh Berry #||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|8||6||11||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|9||22||20||Harrison Burton||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|10||5||10||Jeb Burton||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|11||25||68||Brandon Brown||Brandonbilt Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|12||40||23||Tyler Reddick*||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|13||23||26||Santino Ferrucci||Sam Hunt Racing||Toyota||200||Running|
|14||37||7||Justin Allgaier||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|15||21||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Martins Motorsports||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|16||24||92||Josh Williams||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|17||8||51||Jeremy Clements||Jeremy Clements Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|18||26||07||Joe Graf Jr.||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|19||30||0||Jeffrey Earnhardt||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|20||38||15||Colby Howard||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|21||14||4||Landon Cassill||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|22||39||74||Bayley Currey||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|23||35||6||Ryan Vargas #||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|24||15||17||Garrett Smithley||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||199||Running|
|25||16||90||Dexter Bean||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||198||Running|
|26||32||78||Jesse Little||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Toyota||198||Running|
|27||36||52||Gray Gaulding||Jimmy Means Racing||Chevrolet||198||Running|
|28||29||61||Chad Finchum||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||198||Running|
|29||28||13||David Starr||MBM Motorsports||Ford||198||Running|
|30||27||48||Jade Buford||Big Machine Racing||Chevrolet||196||Running|
|31||20||54||Ty Dillon||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||195||Running|
|32||1||2||Myatt Snider||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||191||Running|
|33||19||47||Kyle Weatherman||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||184||Running|
|34||7||02||Brett Moffitt*||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||181||Accident|
|35||17||36||Alex Labbé||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||181||Accident|
|36||33||99||Stefan Parsons||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Toyota||137||Fuel Line|
|37||18||66||Timmy Hill||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||100||Engine|
|38||11||39||Ryan Sieg||RSS Racing||Ford||73||Accident|
|39||31||5||Matt Mills||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||72||Electrical|
|40||12||98||Riley Herbst||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||56||Accident|
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points