The road course dominance of AJ Allmendinger continued under a sunny afternoon in Concord, North Carolina, after he claimed a late dominant victory in the fifth annual Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course on Saturday, October 8. It was his fourth consecutive Xfinity Series win at the Charlotte Roval as the field for the Playoff’s Round of 8 was set.
The 40-year-old Allmendinger from Los Gatos, California, led two times for a race-high 25 of 72 over-scheduled laps. Allmendinger capitalized on two overtime attempts while also dealing with power steering issues to overtake and hold off Ty Gibbs to claim his historic fourth consecutive Xfinity Series victory at the Roval. This also marked his second consecutive win following a last-lap photo-finish victory over Sam Mayer at Talladega Superspeedway. Allmendinger was one of eight competitors to officially transfer to the Playoff’s Round of 8.
With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Saturday, Allmendinger claimed his fourth pole position of the 2022 season after posting a 102.235 mph lap in 81.694 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Playoff competitor Ty Gibbs, who posted the second-best qualifying lap at 102.144 mph in 81.767 seconds.
Prior to the event, Scott Heckert, Ryan Vargas and Kris Wright dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective cars along with Playoff competitor Noah Gragson, who started the event in a backup car.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Allmendinger battled and fended off Gibbs to lead the field through the first two turns and approaching the infield road course turns. As the field jostled for positions through the infield and back to the oval turns, Allmendinger remained out in front over Gibbs, Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier and Sheldon Creed. Through the backstretch chicane and back to the frontstretch chicane, Allmendinger retained the top spot by a decent advantage as he navigated his way back to the start/finish line and led the first lap.
By the second lap, Allmendinger was out in front by seven-tenths of a second over Gibbs followed by Hemric, Allgaier and Creed while Sam Mayer, Landon Cassill, Austin Hill, Jeremy Clements and Sage Karam were in the top 10.
Then on the third lap, early trouble struck for Playoff competitor Daniel Hemric, who went off the track and hit the wall in Turn 5 and damaged the left side of his No. 11 AG1 Chevrolet Camaro. Following an unscheduled pit stop for repairs, the reigning Xfinity Series champion returned to the track but plummeted to the bottom of the leaderboard.
Through the first five scheduled laps, Allmendinger was leading by nearly one-and-a-half seconds over Gibbs while Allgaier, Creed, Mayer, Cassill, Hill, Clements, Sage Karam and Riley Herbst were running in the top 10. By then, six of 12 Playoff competitors were running in the top 10 as Josh Berry was in 12th, Brandon Jones was scored in 16th, Ryan Sieg was running behind Jones in 17th, Gragson was in 20th and Hemric was mired back in 38th, dead last.
Four laps later, the first caution of the event flew when Kris Wright wrecked in the first turn. Wright’s incident occurred two laps earlier after JJ Yeley spun all by himself in Turn 7. During the caution period, some of the drivers, including Gragson, pitted while the rest led by Allmendinger remained on the track.
When the race proceeded under green on Lap 11, Allmendinger retained the lead ahead of Gibbs and the rest of the field.
In the closing laps of the second stage, Marco Andretti, who was making his NASCAR debut in Big Machine Racing’s No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro, spun entering the backstretch chicane. In addition, Alex Labbe went off the course and got a sign stuck to his front end while Allgaier and Cassill spun together in Turn 4. In the midst of the on-track carnage, Creed, Ryan Sieg, Brandon Jones, Labbe, Kaz Grala and Hemric pitted while Allmendinger retained the lead.
When the first stage concluded on Lap 20, Allmendinger claimed his fourth stage victory of the 2022 season. Gibbs settled in second while Mayer, Hill, Herbst, Allgaier, Davison, Cassill, Berry and Karam were scored in the top 10.
Under the stage break, a majority of the field led by Allmendinger pitted while the rest including Creed, Gragson, Karam, Brandon Jones, Alex Labbe, Ryan Sieg, Hemric, Grala, Josh Williams, Preston Pardus and Brandon Brown remained on the track. During the pit stops, Hill had the hood of his car up due to a power steering issue while Patrick Gallagher was penalized for speeding on pit road.
The second stage started on Lap 22 as Karam and Gragson occupied the front row. At the start, Gragson used the outside lane to his advantage as he stormed to the lead entering the first turn followed by Creed while Karam was left to battle Brandon Jones for third place in front of the field.
At the Lap 30 mark, Creed was leading ahead of Gibbs, Brandon Jones, Gragson and Karam while Hemric, Herbst, Labbe, Allmendinger and Mayer were running in the top 10. By then, six of 12 Playoff competitors were running in the top 10 as Allgaier was in 11th, Berry was in 13th, Clements was running in 15th, Sieg was back in 17th and Hill was mired back in 32nd. In the midst of the competition toward the front, Bayley Currey spun Brad Perez in Turn 8 as Andy Lally sustained damage from getting into Currey.
At the halfway mark between Laps 33 and 34, Creed continued to lead by more than three seconds over Gibbs while Brandon Jones, Gragson and Karam remained in the top five. By then, Herbst carved his way up to sixth followed by Allmendinger, Mayer, Hemric and Allgaier while Labbe, Davison, Berry, Alfredo and Clements occupied the top 15.
In the closing laps of the second stage, some of the drivers, including Karam, Labbe, Cassill, Stefan Parsons, Clements, Jeb Burton, Josh Bilicki, Allmendinger, Gragson and Gibbs, along with the leader, Creed, pitted under green while Brandon Jones cycled his way into the lead.
When the second stage concluded on Lap 40, Brandon Jones claimed his second stage victory of the 2022 season. Herbst settled in second while Mayer, Allgaier, Davison, Hemric, Berry, Alfredo, Creed and Gibbs were scored in the top 10. By then, six of 12 Playoff competitors were scored in the top 10 while Sieg, Gragson, Allmendinger, Clements and Hill were mired in 12th, 17th, 18th, 26th and 30th, respectively. During the stage’s conclusion, Myatt Snider limped his No. 31 TaxSlayer Chevrolet Camaro back to pit road with a flat left-rear tire.
Under the stage break, some of the drivers, led by Brandon Jones, pitted, while the rest led by Herbst remained on the track.
With 24 laps remaining, the final stage started with Creed and Gibbs on the front row. At the start, Creed pulled ahead with the lead through the first turn while Gibbs fended off Allmendinger, Gragson and Karam to remain in second through the infield turns. As the field re-entered the oval turns and approached the backstretch chicane, Gibbs started to close in on Creed as he launched his bid for the lead while Allmendinger kept both within his sights.
During the following lap, Gibbs moved into the lead over Creed entering the backstretch chicane while Allmendinger remained in third as he started to challenge Creed for the runner-up spot. Not long after, the caution flag flew again when Jeb Burton spun in Turn 6 after getting hit by teammate Anthony Alfredo before he was hit by Marco Andretti, whose NASCAR debut came to an end late in the event.
When the race restarted under green with 19 laps remaining, Gibbs fended off Creed and a daring three-wide attempt from Allmendinger to lead the field through the infield turns and back to the oval turns. Shortly after, the caution flew when Preston Pardus was hit by Kaz Grala, who spun and got his car stalled backward in the backstretch chicane. In the midst of the carnage, Herbst, who was running toward the top 10, sustained significant damage to the left-rear area of his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang after a stack-up resulted in Davison hitting Herbst.
During the following restart with 15 laps remaining, Gibbs jumped ahead and retained the lead while Allmendinger and Creed briefly battled for second as Allmendinger prevailed while Karam and Gragson were in the top five ahead of the field. While the field jostled for positions through the infield turns and the backstretch chicane, Gibbs stabilized his advantage to seven-tenths of a second over Allmendinger while third-place Creed trailed by more than a second.
A lap later, Herbst spun while exiting the backstretch chicane in 10th place. By then, Brad Perez hit the wall towards the backstretch while Joe Graf Jr. spun in Turn 6. Despite the incidents, the race remained under green flag conditions.
With 12 laps remaining, however, the caution returned due to debris on the course after Herbst lost a flat left-rear tire carcass and sustained more damage to the left-rear area of his car. At the same time, Allgaier had a sign stuck to the front of his car.
Three laps later, the race proceeded under green. At the start, Gibbs retained the lead with a strong start while Allmendinger battled and fended off Creed to retain the runner-up spot ahead of the field. Behind, a spin by Grala ignited a stack-up with cars wrecking in Turn 2 that involved Herbst, Patrick Gallagher, Ryan Vargas, Timmy Hill, Josh Bilicki and Brad Perez. Shortly after, Creed spun in Turn 7 after getting hit by Karam before the caution flew amid the carnage.
Down to the final six laps of the event, the event restarted under green. At the start, Gibbs launched ahead with another strong start while Allmendinger fended off Karam for second place. Behind, teammates Gragson and Allgaier battled for fourth in front of Parsons, Brandon Jones and Labbe as the field scrambled for late positions through the infield turns and back to the oval turns.
When the field returned to the frontstretch for the final five mark, Gibbs continued to lead by half a second over Allmendinger while Karam, Gragson and Allgaier remained in the top five. By then, Parsons remained in sixth ahead of Davison, Brandon Jones, Labbe and Berry while Mayer, Hemric, Kvyat, Casasill and Sieg were in the top 15.
Then with four laps remaining, Karam spun from third and backed his car into the wall. As Karam continued and limped his car back to pit road, the race remained under green and Gibbs retained the lead ahead of Allmendinger. Karam’s incident allowed Gragson, Allgaier and Parsons to move up the leaderboard.
Two laps later, the caution flew due to debris being reported on the track and the event was sent into overtime. By then, Gibbs had extended his advantage to a second over Allmendinger.
At the start of the first overtime attempt, Gibbs and Allmendinger dueled for the lead entering the first turn. They rubbed fenders through the first two turns as Allmendinger muscled into the lead entering the third turn. Through the infield turns, Allmendinger and Gibbs pulled away from the field, with Allmendinger closing in on Gibbs. It did not take long, however, for the caution to fly again and send the event into a second overtime attempt when Herbst spun, slapped the wall between Turns 4 and 5 and picked up a billboard sign on the course. Herbst eventually retired with a wrecked race car.
During the start of the second overtime attempt, Allmendinger and Gibbs dueled for the lead entering the first turn before Allmendinger pulled ahead and came out on top. Behind, Gibbs and Gragson battled for second while James Davison moved up to fourth in front of Allgaier. While Parsons spun in Turn 7, the field scattered to avoid hitting him as the race proceeded under green.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Allmendinger remained the leader by more than a second over Gibbs and Gragson. While Gibbs tried to close in on Allmendinger through the infield turns, the oval turns and the backstretch chicane, Allmendinger had enough power to fend off and beat Gibbs to the finish line by half a second.
In addition to claiming his fourth consecutive victory at the Roval along with his second win in recent weeks, Allmendinger recorded his 15th career victory in the Xfinity Series, his 10th on a road course venue and his fifth of the 2022 season. The victory was also the 19th overall in the Xfinity circuit for Kaulig Racing.
“It’s unbelievable,” Allmendinger said on NBC. “All the credit goes to all the men and women at Kaulig Racing. This Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevy was pretty good, but Ty [Gibbs] was really good there at the end. I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to get him. I knew I could just get to one restart on the outside of him, at least, we had a chance. I was whining pretty bad there. I was frustrated, didn’t think we had a shot, but I’m always gonna put it on my back when it’s time to go. We got that one. We stole that one!”
Gibbs settled in second place for the third time this season as he secured his spot in the Playoff’s Round of 8. Gragson came home in third place while James Davison and Justin Allgaier finished in the top five. Alex Labbe finished sixth followed by Brandon Jones, who secured the eighth and final transfer spot to the Round of 8 by two points over Ryan Sieg. Berry, Sieg and Landon Cassill completed the top 10 on the track. Notably, Playoff competitors Mayer, Clements, Hemric and Hill ended up 11th, 14th, 17th and 29th, respectively, while Herbst, who was unable to finish, was scored in 32nd.
AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson, Ty Gibbs, Josh Berry, Justin Allgaier, Sam Mayer, Austin Hill and Brandon Jones have transferred to the Round of 8 in the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and will continue in their pursuit of this year’s championship. Ryan Sieg, Daniel Hemric, Riley Herbst and Jeremy Clements have been eliminated from title contention. With Hemric, the reigning Xfinity Series champion, being among one of four competitors eliminated from Playoff contention, the 2022 Xfinity Series will be primed to feature a new champion at season’s conclusion.
There were eight lead changes for six different leaders. The race featured nine cautions for 15 laps.
1. AJ Allmendinger, 25 laps led, Stage 1 winner
2. Ty Gibbs, 24 laps led
3. Noah Gragson, one lap led
4. James Davison
5. Justin Allgaier
6. Alex Labbe
7. Brandon Jones, three laps led, Stage 2 winner
8. Josh Berry
9. Ryan Sieg
10. Landon Cassill
11. Sam Mayer
12. Anthony Alfredo
13. Myatt Snider
14. Jeremy Clements
15. Daniil Kvyat
16. Sheldon Creed, 18 laps led
17. Daniel Hemric
18. Jeb Burton
19. JJ Yeley
20. Brandon Brown
21. Preston Pardus
22. Scott Heckert
23. Brad Perez
24. Ryan Vargas
25. Stefan Parsons
26. Bayley Currey
27. Joe Graf Jr.
28. Timmy Hill
29. Austin Hill, two laps down
30. Sage Karam, two laps down
31. Andy Lally, three laps down
32. Riley Herbst – OUT, Accident, one lap led
33. Patrick Gallagher – OUT, Engine
34. Josh Bilicki, six laps down
35. Kaz Grala – OUT, Accident
36. Marco Andretti – OUT, Accident
37. Josh Williams – OUT, Track bar
38. Kris Wright – OUT, Accident
*Bold indicates Playoff contenders
1. AJ Allmendinger – Advanced
2. Noah Gragson – Advanced
3. Ty Gibbs – Advanced
4. Josh Berry – Advanced
5. Justin Allgaier – Advanced
6. Sam Mayer – Advanced
7. Austin Hill – Advanced
8. Brandon Jones – Advanced
9. Ryan Sieg – Eliminated
10. Daniel Hemric – Eliminated
11. Riley Herbst – Eliminated
12. Jeremy Clements – Eliminated
The Round of 8 in the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs is set to occur next Saturday, October 15, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The event is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.