NASCAR Xfinity race at Charlotte: AJ Allmendinger wins in the rain, four drivers eliminated
AJ Allmendinger overcame rain, darkness and chaos and won the Xfinity race on Saturday at the Charlotte Roval in order not to be eliminated in the playoffs before the second round. His post-race mood reflected relief as well as celebration.
"I complained about the whole race," said Allmendinger. "That was miserable."
Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric took second and third place.
Allmendinger fought the number 98 driven by Chase Briscoe through the final stage and swapped the lead several times, but Briscoe turned the last restart and planned at Turn 1 through standing water to give the lead to Allmendinger, who controlled the final lap to win his second race of the season, the Drive for the Cure 250.
"It takes 100% to win these races and I tried to get 110% on the last restart," Briscoe tweeted after the race. "Lesson learned, these will sting for a while."
Gragson, who started from pole, controlled most of the first stage, but Kaz Grala raced into the top three after several riders warned of spins and then took the lead for the stage win. That was just before NASCAR brought out the red flag for rain and tried to control puddles of water on the track.
The stall lasted 38 minutes before the teams, who had previously switched to rain tires, returned to compete around sunset. Briscoe won the second stage after a series of warnings. In the last few laps the infield was dark, but the riders could hardly see anything due to the persistent rain.
"A couple of times when I started the mid-pack, I didn't even press the throttle," said Allmendinger. "You just couldn't see anything."
When asked what advice Allmendinger would give the Cup Series drivers who are driving the track under probably similarly difficult conditions on Sunday, he replied: "Wait a minute."
"I don't really enjoy these conditions," said Allmendinger. "It's fun to drive in the wet when it's not puddling and flooding the racetrack. That was just chaos."
He said the rain was likely "beyond the circuit's limit," but thought NASCAR made the appropriate calls to raise the red flag just before halftime and brought out the warning flag if necessary.
"At that point we had come so far in the race that you have to go out and try to finish it," said Allmendinger.
While Allmendinger finished it, not all did. The Roval put an end to four of the driver's playoff hopes: Harrison Burton, Brandon Brown, Michael Annett and Riley Herbst were all eliminated from the postseason. Burton left the race early with a clutch problem.
Eight riders like Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Gragson, Justin Haley, Brandon Jones, Ross Chastain and Ryan Sieg remain on the championship hunt. The Xfinity Series runs in Kansas on October 17th.
The Cup Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. for the Roval 400.
NASCAR XFINITY POINTS STANDINGS POST-CHARLOTTE
END THE ORDER FOR THE HEALING 250
Joe Graf Jr.
Tommy Joe Martins
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