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NASCAR Xfinity: A.J. Allmendinger finally wins on an oval at Atlanta

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JUNE 06: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 C2 Freight Resources Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series EchoPark 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 06, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

A.J. Allmendinger claimed his fourth-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win Saturday, his second for Kaulig Racing, in the EchoPark 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Even so, it was the drivers first series win on an oval.

“Oh my God! I won on an oval!” Allmendinger said upon climbing out of his car after the race.

Noah Gragson took runner up honors and claimed a $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus as the highest finisher among himself, Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones and Chase Briscoe. All four drivers eligible for the bonus finished in the top-10 with Burton in fourth, Jones in eighth and Briscoe in ninth. Also, as the bonus winner, Gragson is eligible to race for another such bonus July 14 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the second of two Xfinity Series races at the track next weekend.

Allmendinger also is eligible for the bonus at Homestead if he contests the race, along with Gragson, and third and fourth-place finishers at Atlanta — Justin Haley and Daniel Hemric. If Allmendinger doesn’t enter the Homestead race, Burton, who finished fifth Saturday, will be eligible.

“It’s always a good thing when you can eventually get it together – put what you’ve learned together and make the car a lot better a lot better at the end,” Burton said. “I felt like we struggled really bad loose early, and then, I don’t know how, but my crew chief Ben Beshore always makes it a lot better at the end of these races. That was a big, big gain at the end, so we got some notes for the future on that, for the next few mile-and-a-halves. We go to Homestead next, which is similar with the fall off and no grip and hanging on. It should be really, really fun to go there and have a chance at it. I think the biggest thing for us is just firing off better and seeing what we can do if we have a little better track position to start the last stage.”

Allmendinger inherited the lead when Briscoe and Justin Allgaier, who were first out of the pits during a caution on lap 125, and Daniel Hemric were caught speeding on pit road. He led the remainder of the 163-lap race.

“This car was awesome,” Allmendinger said. “This is Atlanta. The car was awesome on long runs, probably better than the driver early. Once I got in the lead, I was just trying to hit my marks, which is hard to do.”

Gragson inherited second and Haley third in the running order. Haley took second soon after the restart, but with seven laps remaining Gragson retook the position.

Haley’s top-three finish, which gave Kaulig two cars in the top-three, came after two pit-road penalties — one because his crew went over the pit wall too soon during the caution after the first 40-lap stage and another for speeding after the second 40-lap stage.

Cindric and Briscoe combined to lead most of race before their speeding penalties, with Briscoe leading a race-high 68 laps and winning the first two stages of the race. He took his first lead from pole-siter Gragson on lap six.

Cindric gave up the lead to pit during a lap-17 caution while the other frontrunners stayed out. As a result, he restarted 21st, but with new tires, he was able to retake the lead fewer than 10 laps later.

Cindric continued to lead until the second stage ended at lap 80 before Briscoe beat him off pit road for the lead. Briscoe, then, led most of the laps until the speeding penalties. During final pit stops during the lap-125 yellow flag, Cindric’s team resorted to putting 18-lap scuffs on the car, as they were out of tires because of the extra, early-race pit stop.

Other top-10 finishers included Allgaier in sixth, Ross Chastain in seventh, and Anthony Alfredo in 10th.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the EchoPack 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

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Posted by on June 7, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR,Xfinity Series. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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