AJ Allmendinger rolls to Xfinity victory at Las Vegas

AJ Allmendinger took the lead and held off the field on a final race restart with 12 laps remaining to earn his fourth NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the last 16 races – taking the victory in the Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in his first race at the track in three years.

Allmendinger’s No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet had to hold off the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Daniel Hemric, who led a race-best 74 of the 200 laps and came 0.978 seconds away from his first career victory.

It was an emotional win for the veteran Allmendinger, who climbed out of his car at the finish line and leaned against it, eyes closed for a moment before doing his live television interview.

This is the 39-year-old Californian’s first full-time season racing in NASCAR since 2018, when he competed in the NASCAR Cup Series ranks. He earned three wins driving part-time for Kaulig Racing the last two seasons.

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Ellsworth Advisors Chevrolet, wins the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at The Bullring. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

“First of all, it’s awesome to have you all back in the grandstands,” a smiling Allmendinger said, motioning toward the cheering but socially distanced and limited-size crowd.

“It’s emotional because you don’t know when you’re going to do this again,” Allmendinger continued. “You never know. This could be the last one (win), you never know, I hope it’s not. I think we can do a lot more.”

“Even though I’m back full-time,” he added, “this is fun, but I want to win so bad for [team owner] Matt [Kaulig] every week. It’s hard to put into words what he means to me. Truly how bad I want to win for him … it means that much to me that he believes in me.”

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Ellsworth Advisors Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at The Bullring. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

For Hemric, who now has 11 career runner-up showings in NASCAR’s three national series, it was a tough final outcome considering the strong showing up front for his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota all race long. He led eight different times and won Stage 2. Tonight was Hemric’s eighth runner-up finish in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett holds the Xfinity Series record for the most runner-up finishes before his first victory with 10 second-place finishes.

“You hate to have one get away like that, but we came here and wanted to try to have more speed to lead laps and win stages and we did that today,” Hemric said. “We lined up with a shot there and just got beat. Congratulations to AJ. We just got beat.”

Hemric’s teammate Brandon Jones finished third followed by 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric, who led 43 laps and won Stage 1.

Cindric had a tire go down on his No. 22 Team Penske Ford just 55 laps into the race. A crash involving Ty Dillon and Riley Herbst one lap later prompted the race’s third yellow flag, allowing Cindric to regain his lost lap as the caution period’s beneficiary, though the misfortune dropped him to 36th in the 40-car field before his midrace comeback.

“We cut a tire down when we were one of the best cars and took us the entire race to get back to fourth. We needed a hundred more miles and maybe we would have had a shot with our Carquest Ford Mustang. All good on my end, just bad luck.”

With his inspired rally, he finished 10th in the second stage and broke into the top five by Lap 117. He made contact with Harrison Burton in the closing laps and his fourth-place showing is his fourth top five in as many races.

Las Vegas native Noah Gragson finished fifth – his best showing of the season. Michael Annett, Josh Berry, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton and Jeb Burton rounded out the top 10. The performances by Haley and Jeb Burton gave Kaulig Racing a top-10 sweep.

Cindric holds a 21-point lead over Hemric in the series driver standings entering next Saturday’s Call 811 Before You Dig 200 at Phoenix Raceway.

Race Results

Fin Str No. Driver Team Laps Led Status
1 10 16 AJ Allmendinger Ellsworth Advisors Chevrolet 200 44 Running
2 3 18 Daniel Hemric Poppy Bank Toyota 200 74 Running
3 4 19 Brandon Jones Menards/Turtle Wax Toyota 200 28 Running
4 2 22 Austin Cindric Carquest Auto Parts Ford 200 43 Running
5 34 9 Noah Gragson Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet 200 0 Running
6 13 1 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 200 0 Running
7 9 8 Josh Berry # FilterTime Chevrolet 200 0 Running
8 6 11 Justin Haley LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 200 5 Running
9 22 20 Harrison Burton DEX Imaging Toyota 200 0 Running
10 5 10 Jeb Burton Alsco Uniforms Chevrolet 200 0 Running
11 25 68 Brandon Brown GreenTech Energy Chevrolet 200 0 Running
12 40 23 Tyler Reddick(i) Quartz Hill Records Chevrolet 200 0 Running
13 23 26 Santino Ferrucci HydraVes Technologies Toyota 200 0 Running
14 37 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet 200 4 Running
15 21 44 Tommy Joe Martins Discover Denton Texas Chevrolet 200 0 Running
16 24 92 Josh Williams Silverton Casino & Hotel Chevrolet 200 0 Running
17 8 51 Jeremy Clements First Pacific Funding Chevrolet 199 0 Running
18 26 7 Joe Graf Jr. Bucked Up Energy Chevrolet 199 0 Running
19 30 0 Jeffrey Earnhardt KSDT CPA Chevrolet 199 0 Running
20 38 15 Colby Howard Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet 199 0 Running
21 14 4 Landon Cassill TeamJDMotorsports.com Chevrolet 199 0 Running
22 39 74 Bayley Currey Lerner & Rowe Chevrolet 199 0 Running
23 35 6 Ryan Vargas # KSDT CPA Chevrolet 199 0 Running
24 15 17 Garrett Smithley Trophy Tractor Chevrolet 199 0 Running
25 16 90 Dexter Bean Badger Environmental Chevrolet 198 0 Running
26 32 78 Jesse Little Skuttle Tight Toyota 198 0 Running
27 36 52 Gray Gaulding SVS Vision Chevrolet 198 0 Running
28 29 61 Chad Finchum LasVegas.net Toyota 198 0 Running
29 28 13 David Starr Ford 198 0 Running
30 27 48 Jade Buford Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet 196 0 Running
31 20 54 Ty Dillon Toyota Service Centers/Mobil 1 Toyota 195 2 Running
32 1 2 Myatt Snider TaxSlayer Chevrolet 191 0 Running
33 19 47 Kyle Weatherman PORAC Chevrolet 184 0 Running
34 7 2 Brett Moffitt(i) Chevrolet 181 0 Accident
35 17 36 Alex Labbe Prolon/rousseau/Silver Wax Chevrolet 181 0 Accident
36 33 99 Stefan Parsons Springrates Toyota 137 0 Fuel Line
37 18 66 Timmy Hill CrashClaimsR.Us Toyota 100 0 Engine
38 11 39 Ryan Sieg CMR Construction and Roofing Ford 73 0 Accident
39 31 5 Matt Mills J.F. Electric Chevrolet 72 0 Electrical
40 12 98 Riley Herbst South Point Ford 56 0 Accident


Average Speed of Race Winner:  113.804 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 38 Mins, 10 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .978 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 45 laps.

Lead Changes:  23 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Snider 0;D. Hemric 1;A. Cindric 2-25;D. Hemric 26-28;A. Cindric 29-47;B. Jones 48;D. Hemric 49-62;J. Allgaier 63;D. Hemric 64-68;J. Allgaier 69;D. Hemric 70-75;J. Allgaier 76;D. Hemric 77-92;J. Allgaier 93;B. Jones 94-118;D. Hemric 119-138;A. Allmendinger 139-148;B. Jones 149;J. Haley 150-154;A. Allmendinger 155-175;B. Jones 176;T. Dillon 177-178;D. Hemric 179-187;A. Allmendinger 188-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Daniel Hemric 8 times for 74 laps; AJ Allmendinger 3 times for 44 laps; Austin Cindric 2 times for 43 laps; Brandon Jones 4 times for 28 laps; Justin Haley 1 time for 5 laps; Justin Allgaier 4 times for 4 laps; Ty Dillon 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,11,18,16,19,1,7,9,98,54

Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,16,7,19,02,1,9,20,68,22

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