By AMANDA VINCENT
A.J. Allmendinger won for Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series on Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last year. This time around, he gave Kaulig a NASCAR Xfinity Series win on the Indy road course by taking the checkered flag in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on Saturday.
“God, I love this place,” Allmendinger said. “Indy, baby! Let’s go!”
Saturday’s win was Allmendinger’s third win of the 2022 Xfinity Series season and his ninth-career series road-course win, an Xfinity Series record. His previous two wins this season also came on road courses.
Allmendinger led 42 of the 62 laps that made up the Pennzoil 150, taking his final lead from Alex Bowman on the final restart of the race on lap 45. Bowman ran second to Allmendinger throughout the remaining lap and finished with runner-up honors.
“We, obviously, struggled really badly today in the Cup car,” Bowman, who qualified outside the too-20 for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race on the same course. “Maybe I learned something that will play out tomorrow on the race track.”
Ross Chastain passed Justin Allgaier on the final lap to finish third. Allgaier and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five.
Although Allmendinger dominated the race, he didn’t claim a stage win.
Noah Gragson won the opening 20-lap stage after he and Myatt Snider stayed out during a lap-15 caution for Parker Kligerman and Ryan Ellis.
Pole sitter Allmendinger led until the caution. A slow pit stop for Allmendinger put him outside the top-10 for the late-stage restart, but he was able to get back up to ninth by stage end.
Briscoe pitted for an overheating issue as the caution came out. The timing of the Kligerman/Ellis caution would’ve been to Briscoe’s benefit had he not committed a commitment box violation.
Josh Berry won the second stage on lap 40 after staying out while most drivers pitted under green late in the stage.
Allmendinger recovered to also lead significant laps in the second stage. He was the race leader before he and Bowman pitted under green on lap 38. Bowman beat Allmendinger off pit road, though.
Bowman and Allgaier restarted on the front row for stage two when Gragson and Myatt Snider pitted after finishing the opening stage in the top-two.
Allgaier took the lead from Bowman when the race restarted on lap 25. Allmendinger, then, retook the lead on a lap-29 restart that followed a caution for a Ty Gibbs spin.
Gibbs ran second to Allmendinger through the first 15 laps of the race, but after his spin, he dug himself into a deeper hole by pitting after pit-road closed late in the second stage.
When the final round of pit stops completed during the caution that followed stage two, Bowman and Allmendinger were back on the front row to restart for the final stage.
Riley Herbst finished sixth, Sam Mayer was seventh, Gibbs eighth, Austin Hill ninth, and Gragson finished 10th.