NASCAR: AJ Allmendinger wins inaugural Portland Xfinity race

Former IndyCar star AJ Allmendinger schooled the NASCAR drivers once again on Saturday.  Allmendinger went from last to first in winning the inaugural Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Allmendinger literally came from last on the grid to earn the win – after changing “everything but the motor” before the race, he claimed in victory lane. His No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet led only six of the race’s 75 laps and beat Myatt Snider by 2.879 seconds to earn the popular veteran his second Xfinity Series victory of 2022; his other win coming on the road course at the Circuit of the Americas early this season.

“It might be one of the craziest wins I’ve ever had,’’ the 12-time Xfinity Series winner Allmendinger said smiling.

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pacific Office Automation 147 at Portland International Raceway on June 04, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

It would be hard to argue otherwise. Not only did the 40-year-old Californian Allmendinger start from the rear, he had his first of a half-dozen off-track excursions before even taking the checkered flag. He went down a lap early but managed to stay focused and rally back to the lead lap in a race that had nine cautions and only 21 of the 38 cars on the lead lap at the finish.

“Man I cannot believe this, I crashed before it went green,’’ said Allmendinger, who also earned his first Champ Car win at Portland back in 2006.

“I was making so many mistakes, trying so hard,’’ he added. “I put so much pressure on myself in these races because I know what everyone expects and I know what I expect out of myself, more importantly. But what a win.’’

Snider, who led five laps in the No. 31 Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet, managed a smile himself acknowledging that runner-up to Allmendinger on a road course isn’t such a horrible defeat.

“Just AJ’s experience,’’ Snider said, managing a smile as he explained the difference in winning Saturday. “I could tell he was setting up those [corner] exits better than I was. To me, that was good hard racing.

“So cool to be disappointed with second [place] with a team that’s only a year-and-a-half old and to get my first stage win and maybe the first top-three with this car,’’ he added.

Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Hill finished third with JR Motorsports teammates Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier rounding out the top five.

Daniel Hemric, Ty Gibbs, JJ Yeley, Noah Gragson and Alex Labbe completed the top 10.

As with Allmendinger, many of the top finishers had adventurous days.

The opening stages on the 1.97-mile course called for wet tires with a steady downpour at the green flag that dissipated slowly as the race progressed. By the Stage 2 break, most teams opted for the Goodyear slicks as the rain lessened and was replaced with heavy mist. Only to have the rain come back in the final stage – after cars had swapped to the dry tires.

It was the sort of drama that characterized the race.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Gibbs led a race-best 42 laps in the No. 54 JGR Toyota but was involved in several on-track incidents vying for the lead – and even just driving under caution at one point, hit from behind by Jesse Iwuji, who was three laps down.

Gragson, who like Allmendinger started from the rear of the field, made up a race-best 22 positions by the start of Stage 2 and was running top five when he was pushed off course by Gibbs on a mid-race restart that proved to be consequential for many of the day’s top drivers.

Gibbs had contact with Gragson then with Sheldon Creed – resulting in both Gibbs and Creed’s cars going off-course. Creed returned to track and then was involved in a multi-car accident with 20 laps to go – damaging his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet beyond repair.

“I thought we had an okay day going. I made a mistake running second there but got back to the lead,’’ said Creed, whose wife is due to give birth to their first child any day now.

“The way my year’s gone, every time we have speed something goes wrong. … Today I felt like we had a really good shot at winning.’’

With the victory, Allmendinger extended his championship lead over Gibbs to 44 points. Gragson’s ninth-place finish keeps him 45 points behind.

Race Results

Fin Str No. Driver Team Laps Status
1 10 16 AJ Allmendinger Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet 75 Running
2 25 31 Myatt Snider Tree Top Chevrolet 75 Running
3 2 21 Austin Hill # Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet 75 Running
4 19 8 Josh Berry Tire Pros Chevrolet 75 Running
5 9 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet 75 Running
6 3 11 Daniel Hemric Cirkul – Water Your Way Chevrolet 75 Running
7 6 54 Ty Gibbs He Gets Us Toyota 75 Running
8 35 66 JJ Yeley Minutemen Coffee Co. Toyota 75 Running
9 11 9 Noah Gragson BassProShops/TrTmbr/BRCC Chevrolet 75 Running
10 23 36 Alex Labbe Larue Industrial Snow Blowers Chevrolet 75 Running
11 22 19 Brandon Jones Menards/Patriot Lighting Toyota 75 Running
12 28 68 Brandon Brown Brandonbilt Foundations Chevrolet 75 Running
13 20 5 Scott Heckert Malco Ford 75 Running
14 5 48 Jade Buford Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet 75 Running
15 13 10 Landon Cassill StormX Chevrolet 75 Running
16 27 39 Ryan Sieg Ford 75 Running
17 15 44 Andy Lally Clear Cryptos Chevrolet 75 Running
18 17 13 Matt Jaskol(i) Auto Parts 4 Less Toyota 75 Running
19 36 35 Patrick Emerling Toyota 75 Running
20 12 2 Brett Moffitt Hometown Lenders Chevrolet 75 Running
21 33 7 Joe Graf Jr. Bucked Up Buck Shot Ford 75 Running
22 31 78 Josh Williams Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet 74 Running
23 37 47 Ryan Vargas Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet 73 Running
24 26 45 Stefan Parsons Lanphere Auto Group Chevrolet 73 Running
25 29 91 Mason Filippi Chevrolet 72 Running
26 38 34 Jesse Iwuji # Equity Prime Mortgage Chevrolet 71 Running
27 18 26 Parker Chase Tower Family Foundation Toyota 62 Accident
28 8 18 Connor Mosack Open Eyes Toyota 62 Accident
29 24 8 Spencer Pumpelly TicketSmarter Ford 62 Accident
30 34 4 Bayley Currey Cascade West Development Chevrolet 62 Accident
31 1 23 Anthony Alfredo Dude Wipes Chevrolet 62 Accident
32 7 2 Sheldon Creed # Whelen Chevrolet 55 Accident
33 21 27 Jeb Burton Uvalde Strong Chevrolet 55 Accident
34 16 51 Jeremy Clements First Pacific Funding Chevrolet 44 Accident
35 14 98 Riley Herbst Monster Energy Ford 35 Accident
36 30 6 Gray Gaulding JT Marine Inc. Chevrolet 27 Accident
37 32 38 Darren Dilley Willamette Valley Hops Ford 25 Accident
38 4 1 Sam Mayer Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet 12 Accident


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