After proving his talent as a driver in open-wheel racing, AJ Allmendinger is making his mark in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. As the full-time driver of the #47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty, Allmendinger took the checkered flag in the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen on Sunday – his first Sprint Cup victory and a qualifier for the Chase for the Sprint Cup under the current NASCAR rules. Allmendinger was very closely followed by Marcos Ambrose in the #9 Ford, with Kurt Busch (#41 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (#42 Chevrolet) and Carl Edwards (#99 Ford) in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.
After failing a random drug test in July 2012, resulting in a three-month suspension and the terminating of his contract by Penske Racing, Allmendinger’s NASCAR career looked uncertain. Upon completing the Road to Recovery program in line with NASCAR’s requirements, Allmendinger was reinstated in September 2012 and in October he filled in for Regan Smith at Phoenix Racing, with his first race being at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In the 2013 he drove the #51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing on a limited schedule and competed in some IndyCar Races. Through the rest of the season he drove alternately for JTG Daugherty Racing and Phoenix Racing. In August it was reported that he would be JTG Daugherty’s full time driver in 2014.
There are only four races remaining until the Chase for the Sprint Cup – Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway; Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway; Oral B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway; and Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
The current top ten in the standings are:
Dale Earnhardt Jr (773 points) Hendrik Motorsports
Jeff Gordon (769 points) Hendrick Motorsports
Matt Kenseth (703 points) Joe Gibbs Racing
Brad Keselowski (696 points) Team Penske
Joey Logano (671 points) Team Penske
Carl Edwards (658 points) Roush Fenway Racing
Jimmie Johnson (650 points) Hendrick Motorsports
Kevin Harvick (645 points) Stewart-Haas Racing
Ryan Newman (645 points) Richard Childress Racing
Kyle Larson (635 points) Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
The Irwin Tools Night Race covers a distance of 266.5 miles (500 laps) and is one of two NASCAR Sprint Cup races held at Bristol Motor Speedway, the other race being the Food City 500. Last year’s event was won by Matt Kenseth, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Darrel Waltrip has had the most wins (7) and although the team no longer exists, Junior Johnson & Associates still holds the record for the team with the most wins (9). As this is reputed to be one of the most popular races on the Sprint Cup schedule, be sure to get your tickets early. For more information visit nascar.com or www.bristolmotorspeedway.com
Date: 23 August 2014
Venue: Bristol Motor Speedway