NASCAR Cup Series

AJ Allmendinger Wins Verizon 200 Amid Curb Controversy in First Cup Race on IMS Road Course

5 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

AJ Allmendinger survived two late red flags and multiple attempts at an overtime finish to win the Verizon 200, becoming the first NASCAR Cup Series driver to win on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a chaotic finish, his first Cup win since Watkins Glen in 2014.

On the final overtime restart, Allmendinger inherited the lead after leader Denny Hamlin was spun by Chase Briscoe heading to turn nine, and Briscoe was handed a stop-and-go penalty for driving through the grass after missing turn one. As Briscoe served his penalty, Allmendinger took the lead and led the final lap to give Kauling Racing their first ever Cup Series victory.

William Byron won the inaugural pole on the road course this morning, and led the field to green alongside the rookie Briscoe, with the field managing to get through the first turn cleanly. Briscoe put the pressure on Byron to take the lead on the second lap in turn seven as the top four of Briscoe, Byron, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson began to pull away from the field.

On lap 13, drivers began to make their first stops before the end of stage one. Joey Logano, Ross Chastain and Hamlin were among those who pit, while the top four pit the very next lap. Briscoe’s stop took a little longer than the others, as the team worked to clear grass from the grill of his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

Michael McDowell inherited the lead from the pit cycle, but was passed with two laps to go in the stage by Tyler Reddick in turn 12, taking the stage win from the Daytona 500 winner. Reddick’s teammate Austin Dillon came home in third, with Erik Jones, Ryan Preece, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse, Justin Haley, Briscoe and Elliott picking up stage points.

Keselowski led the field to green after staying out as Briscoe had to reset his ECU and lost a few spots, restarting fifth. Keselowski got an incredible start as Elliott was slow, maintaining the lead through the chaos of turn one. With his fresh tyres, Byron sent it down the inside of turn seven to battle Keselowski, but he was unable to make the move and allowed his teammate Elliott in front of him. Side by side down the frontstretch, Elliott took the lead before turn one, as Byron continued to drop spots after battling with Logano for third with a poor run through the chicane of turns five and six.

As the stage wound down, Larson began hunting down his teammate Elliott for the lead. Briscoe and Byron were the first of the leaders to pit on lap 33, making their stops before the stage end. Both the leaders came in on the next lap, with Elliott beating Larson off of pit road for the provisional race lead. Reddick grabbed the stage win yet again, followed by Dillon, Preece, Stenhouse, DiBennedetto, Haley, Corey LaJoie, Andy Lally, Larson and Elliott. The current championship leader able to steal ninth from his teammate after a thrilling battle across the entire final lap. Larson finally made the move stick to take the position, points and provisional lead.

At the start of stage three Larson kept the lead from Elliott, with Byron sliding past Kyle Busch for third. Further back in the pack, Stenhouse and Aric Almirola got stacked up on the backstretch spun out of turn six, and soon a caution was thrown for debris underneath the curb in turn six. The caution did not come from the drivers, as this piece of debris was worked on during the stage caution, but the issue needed more fixing.

Larson took the green again with 39 laps to go and took his lead back, with Byron taking second place from Elliott. Larson began to check out, building up a large gap to Elliott, but with ten laps to go a caution was thrown for debris at the exit of turn six.

Many of the leaders came into the pits, with Hamlin and Kurt Busch among the few that stayed out. Larson won the battle off of pit road followed by Byron, but Elliott’s had issues on pit road as the car came down off the jack before service was complete. Larson restarted sixth as the green flag dropped and immediately jumped up to third by turn nine.

The next lap around, the exit of turn six became a scrap heap, as multiple cars hit the curb that received work earlier in the race, claiming frontrunners like Logano, Byron, Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Bell and more. The race was red flagged with four laps to go while crews removed the curb, and all drivers involved were unharmed. There was also a very extensive cleanup needed for oil trailed from turns one to four by James Davison.

The race went back to green for a green-white-checkered overtime finish with Hamlin and Larson, the regular season championship leaders, dueling for the win. Larson went wide in turn one looking for an outside pass but Briscoe and DiBennedetto pushed by as Larson was shoved down the order. Turn six once again caused a calamity on the restart, as McDowell was spun throwing smoke across the track and collecting many others like Dillon, Cole Custer, Reddick, Truex and more, necessitating another red flag.

At the restart Briscoe was forced off course into the grass in turn one, but re joined staying close with Hamlin. He was given a stop and go penalty as Hamlin spun going to turn nine, handing the lead to Allmendinger heading to the white flag. The road course ace was clear of second place Ryan Blaney, and brought home the victory.

“I was so mad yesterday, I wanted to win so bad,” Allmendinger said post-race, referencing his second place finish in the Xfinity race yesterday.

“In my wildest dreams I could have never imagined the way that just played out.”

“It was survival of the fittest, we probably had an eighth to tenth place car, I sped on pit road, I thought we were going to finish twelfth to fifteenth, and then those restarts were just insane. It’s great when you have a car owner (Matt Kaulig) that just says ‘go get me trophies’, he doesn’t care if that thing is torn up.”

Despite his heartbreaking spin, Hamlin has been locked into the Playoffs on points, meaning that with two races left only one more playoff spot is up for grabs.

Verizon 200 Official Results

116A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet95RUNNING
212Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord95RUNNING
35Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet95RUNNING
49Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet95RUNNING
521Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers RacingFord95RUNNING
61Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet95RUNNING
743Erik JonesRichard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet95RUNNING
877Justin Haley*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet95RUNNING
933Austin Cindric*Team PenskeFord95RUNNING
106Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFord95RUNNING
1147Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet95RUNNING
1217Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFord95RUNNING
1323Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota95RUNNING
144Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord95RUNNING
1519Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota95RUNNING
167Corey LajoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet95RUNNING
1748Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet95RUNNING
1852Josh BilickiRick Ware RacingFord95RUNNING
1910Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord95RUNNING
2018Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota95RUNNING
218Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet95RUNNING
2200Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet95RUNNING
2311Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota95RUNNING
242Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord95RUNNING
2541Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord94RUNNING
2614Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord94RUNNING
2766Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsToyota94RUNNING
2853Garrett SmithleyRick Ware RacingFord94RUNNING
2942Ross ChastainChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet93RUNNING
3034Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord88CRASH
313Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet88CRASH
3215James DavisonRick Ware RacingChevrolet80CRASH
3324William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet77CRASH
3422Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord77CRASH
3537Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet77CRASH
3620Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota77CRASH
3799Daniel SuarezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet77CRASH
3838Anthony AlfredoFront Row MotorsportsFord68MECHANICAL
3978Andy LallyLive Fast MotorsportsFord55MECHANICAL
4051Cody WareRick Ware RacingChevrolet46CRASH
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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