NASCAR Cup Series

A.J. Allmendinger plays playoff spoiler at Charlotte Roval

3 Mins read
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Although he missed the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, A.J. Allmendinger was not going to let an opportunity to crash the party slip by. While playoff contenders made last-ditch efforts to qualify for the Round of 8, Allmendinger held off William Byron in the final ten laps to win at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Allmendinger had dominated the Roval in the Xfinity Series, scoring four consecutive victories in as many starts from 2019 to 2022. His prowess translated to the top level as he led a race-high forty-six laps including the final thirty-three to seal the win.

After Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brought out the caution for his car catching fire on lap 98, Allmendinger restarted opposite Kyle Busch for a ten-lap sprint. Busch, who was below the cut line and needed a win to advance, spun his tyres at the green flag and quickly fell back. Byron attempted to chase down Allmendinger but was unable to make a pass.

The win was Allmendinger’s third and second in the Cup Series with Kaulig Racing after conquering the Indianapolis road course in 2021. All three of his Cup triumphs were on road courses (the first was at Watkins Glen in 2014), a quirk previously only achieved by Dan Gurney who notched all five of his wins at the now-defunct Riverside International Raceway.

“I knew William was probably going to the next round. He’s going to be aggressive but maybe not desperate-aggressive,” explained Allmendinger. “That was kind of what was playing in my head on who I was racing around.

“At the end of the day, for me, it’s about if I give everything I have, I make no mistakes and William gets around me and beats me, yeah, it sucks, but I go home and I look in the mirror and say, ‘Yep, better team, better driver beat me that day.’ The one thing I did not want to do was be that guy that made a mistake and let him by me. This is what we all want, to be put in those pressure cooker moments, and these guys know. I struggle to believe in myself every day. It’s an ugly place sometimes. I always say I have the best life possible, and that’s why I’m miserable every day because it’s wake up, what the hell are you going to do to be better today.

“It’s ugly sometimes, but it’s the way I am. I won’t ever change. Those are the moments that I dream of, of knowing, hey, you got the best of the best in the world behind you, it’s on you to not let them by.”

Byron had already locked into the Round of 8 via his Texas win, as was Talladega winner Ryan Blaney who finished twelfth. Despite finishing third, Busch was eliminated after retiring at Texas and a dismal day at Talladega.

Also knocked out after the Round of 12 were Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, and Bubba Wallace. Keselowski struggled to an eighteenth following a pass-through penalty for missing the frontstretch chicane and not stopping, while Chastain was tenth; both entered Charlotte in holes due to Talladega crashes. Wallace had impressed with a third from the pole at Texas but found himself in trouble after a poor Talladega race; despite qualifying fourth at Charlotte, he was spun by Daniel Suárez on lap 86 and was unable to recover.

Six cautions for incidents were called, breaking a trend of relatively clean road races. The two most recent road course events at Indianapolis and Watkins Glen had just two and one yellow flag, respectively, while Sonoma also featured a pair. Although COTA and Chicago had significantly more yellows with eight apiece, the cleaner two-race stretch prompted NASCAR to bring back road course stage cautions starting at the Roval.

Besides Stenhouse, three fellow retirements were for crashes. Denny Hamlin spun and broke the toe link, Erik Jones retired after spinning and was impacted by Michael McDowell on lap 79, and Andy Lally got hit from behind five laps later. Although he placed last, Hamlin still advances to the next round.

Race results

1616A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet109Running
21424William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
358Kyle BuschRichard Childress RacingChevrolet109Running
41054Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs RacingToyota109Running
5722Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord109Running
6145Tyler Reddick23XI RacingToyota109Running
72017Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord109Running
81648Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
989Chase Elliott^Hendrick MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
10121Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet109Running
111841Ryan PreeceStewart-Haas RacingFord109Running
121712Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord109Running
13365Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
14153Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet109Running
15220Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota109Running
16423Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota109Running
17247Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
18196Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord109Running
19224Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord109Running
201119Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota109Running
212110Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord109Running
222531Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet109Running
233251Todd GillilandRick Ware RacingFord109Running
243121Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord109Running
25292Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord109Running
262878Josh Bilicki*Live Fast MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
273362Austin Hill*Beard MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
283014Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord109Running
292642Mike RockenfellerLegacy Motor ClubChevrolet109Running
303438Zane Smith*Front Row MotorsportsFord109Running
313777Ty DillonSpire MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
321334Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord109Running
33399Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet109Running
342747Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet96Electrical
353515Andy Lally*Rick Ware RacingFord84Accident
362343Erik JonesLegacy Motor ClubChevrolet79Accident
37911Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota76DVP
Bold – Currently in playoffs
^ – Currently in owner playoffs
Underline – Eliminated from playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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