AJ Allmendinger wins Xfinity race at COTA
AJ Allmendinger overcame damage from a restart to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Circuit of the Americas.
This is the second year in a row he has won this race. It is Allmendinger’s first victory of the season and 16th career Xfinity win.
William Byron, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, finished second. Ty Gibbs placed third, Sammy Smith fourth and Justin Allgaier fifth.
Smith, Allgaier, sixth-place finisher Daniel Hemric and seventh-place finisher Sam Mayer -- the top four full-time Xfinity drivers -- will be eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Richmond Raceway.
Allmendinger won the first stage and then pitted. When a caution came out shortly, it put him 21st in the field. On the Lap 20 restart, his car suffered damage when he was hit going into Turn 1.
Allmendinger worked his way through the field and took the lead from Sheldon Creed on Lap 33 when they made contact and Creed spun. Creed fell back to 23rd and finished the 46-lap race in ninth.
“He was struggling through the triple right-hander and I tried to make a move in the left hander and make sure I stayed off him,” Allmendinger said. “Slid in behind him and he was struggling. I popped out and thought I’m here at least. It’s just a tough angle.
“When I turned in, I thought I had a point that I was far enough alongside. He turned in. It’s just kind of a tight corner, at least the grip-side of the racetrack. If William wasn’t right behind me, I’d probably been more patient. But I kind of felt like whoever got to the lead first might be the guy that won the race. I knew that I needed to be aggressive. ... It’s not what I want. I thought I was far enough along.”
Stage 1 winner: AJ Allmendinger
Stage 2 winner: Sheldon Creed
Who had a good race: Josh Berry placed eighth after suffering damage to the front of his car on the first corner of the first lap. It is his fifth consecutive top 10. ... Riley Herbst’s 10th-place finish gives him his ninth consecutive top 10.
Who had a bad race: Austin Hill, who had won three of the first five races this season, had mechanical issues early and finished 37th in the 38-car field.
Next: The series races April 1 at Richmond Raceway (1 p.m. ET on FS1)