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Allmendinger to make 100th Xfinity career start at Atlanta

In his return as a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, AJ Allmendinger is set to achieve a milestone start. By competing in this weekend’s event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro will make his 100th career start in the Xfinity circuit.

A former Champ Car competitor from Los Gatos, California, Allmendinger made his inaugural appearance in the Xfinity circuit at Auto Club Speedway in September 2007. By then, he was also competing in his first full-time season in the Cup Series for Red Bull Racing. Driving the No. 42 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing, Allmendinger started 18th and finished 36th in his Xfinity debut after being involved in a multi-car wreck just shy of the halfway mark. He would then compete in six of the remaining eight Xfinity events on the 2007 schedule with CGR, where he would record a season-best 13th-place finish at Phoenix Raceway in November.

After making a single Xfinity start for Gillett Evernham Motorsports at Phoenix in 2008, where he finished 12th, Allmendinger spent the years 2009 to early 2012 competing in the Cup Series between Richard Petty Motorsports and Team Penske. After being suspended by NASCAR indefinitely for failing a drug test and being released by Team Penske before eventually being reinstated by NASCAR towards the end of the 2012 season, the Californian was re-hired by Team Penske to pilot the team’s No. 22 Ford Mustang at Road America and at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2013.

At Road America in June, Allmendinger, who started on the pole position for the first time in his career, led a race-high 29 laps and muscled through two overtime restarts to score his first Xfinity career win. Two months later, he led a race-high 73 laps and outlasted an overtime shootout to claim his second consecutive Xfinity victory at Mid-Ohio and achieve both road course victories of the season for Team Penske. Allmendinger’s pair of road course victories would eventually contribute to Team Penske’s No. 22 team claiming the 2013 Xfinity owner’s championship by a single point over Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 team.

Following the 2013 season, Allmendinger spent the years 2014 to 2018 competing as a full-time Cup competitor for JTG-Daugherty Racing, where he would achieve both his first Cup victory at Watkins Glen International and first Playoff berth in 2014. During the five-year span, he made a single Xfinity start at Watkins Glen in August 2018, where he piloted GMS Racing’s No. 23 entry to a runner-up result.

In 2019, Allmendinger joined Kaulig Racing to compete in select events in the team’s No. 10 Chevrolet Camaro entry. His first Xfinity start of the season occurred at Daytona International Speedway in July, where he initially finished in third place as part of a 1-2-3 finish for Kaulig Racing, a team that won for the first time in NASCAR with Ross Chastain recording the victory over Justin Haley. During the post-race inspection process, however, Allmendinger was demoted to last place after his car failed the inspection process that involved the engine vacuum test. A month later, he settled in a strong runner-up result behind Austin Cindric at Watkins Glen but was relegated to last place for a second time after his car failed post-race inspection, this time for his car being too low on both rear corners. He would proceed to finish third at Mid-Ohio and 24th at Road America after being involved in a late restart incident. Then at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course in October, he led 20 laps and muscled away from the field during a three-lap shootout to claim his third Xfinity career win and the second ever for Kaulig Racing.

For the 2020 season, Allmendinger returned to Kaulig Racing on a part-time Xfinity basis, but this time in the team’s No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro entry. After failing to qualify for the season opener at Daytona and finishing 10th during his first start of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway in June, he scored his fourth Xfinity career victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which would also mark his first win on an oval circuit, after leading the final 37 laps. He would then notch four top-five results and finish no lower than seventh during his next five starts before ending up with back-to-back DNFS at Daytona and Talladega, both due to last-lap accidents. Allmendinger then achieved his second Xfinity victory of the season and the fifth of his career at the Charlotte Roval in October after leading 12 laps and fending off both Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric during an overtime shootout and amid wet conditions. The Californian would make his 11th and final Xfinity start of the season at Martinsville Speedway in late October, where he ended up 26th.

Nearly a month after the 2020 season concluded, Allmendinger was announced as a full-time competitor of Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 entry. After notching a fifth-place result at Daytona before finishing no higher than 14th during the following two events, he notched his first victory of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March after leading 44 laps and beating Hemric by nearly a second. Nine races later, he recorded his second victory of the season at Mid-Ohio in June following a two-lap restart, where he beat teammate Justin Haley by eight-tenths of a second. Another nine races later, he won for the third time in 2021 at Michigan International Speedway after leading a race-high 70 laps and beating Brandon Jones by a tenth of a second.

Then four races later, Allmendinger battled and edged Austin Cindric at the finish line during an overtime shootout to win the regular-season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway in September before both wrecked across the frontstretch. Amid the carnage, Allmendinger, who claimed his fourth Xfinity win of the season, also achieved the regular-season championship before embarking on his first series appearance in the Playoffs. After winning for a third consecutive time at the Charlotte Roval in October and transferring from the Round of 12 to 8, he then notched three consecutive top-seven results to grab a Championship 4 spot for the season-finale event at Phoenix in November. Contending for his first NASCAR Xfinity title, Allmendinger was involved in a late spin and ended up in 14th place on the track and in a career-best fourth place in the final standings. Despite falling short of winning the title, Allmendinger capped off the 2021 season with a career-high five victories, a pole, a career-high 18 top-five results, 22 top-10 results, 422 laps led and an average-finishing result of 9.2.

Remaining as a full-time Xfinity competitor for Kaulig Racing in 2022, Allmendinger commenced the season by finishing second at Daytona after being overtaken by Austin Hill on the final lap prior to a caution-ending wreck. After finishing no lower than ninth during his next four starts, Allmendinger claimed his first Xfinity win of the season at Circuit of the Americas in March after leading a race-high 27 laps. Eight races later and seven additional top-10 results later, the Californian won the series’ inaugural event at Portland International Raceway amid slick conditions. He would proceed to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in August and record 10 additional top-10 results during the final 12 regular-season events before locking up his second consecutive regular-season title.

Despite notching back-to-back victories at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval, respectively, during the Playoffs and transferring from the Round of 12 to 8, he was unable to transfer to the Championship 4 round after finishing 22nd, third and 16th, respectively, throughout the Round of 8. With his championship hopes of the 2022 season evaporated, Allmendinger capped off the season in fifth place both during the finale and in the final standings. In addition, Allmendinger, who notched a career-high five victories for a second consecutive season, achieved a career-high five poles, 17 top-five results, a career-high 28 top-10 results, 348 laps led and a career-best average-finishing result of 6.6.

As Allmendinger moved up to the Cup Series on a full-time basis for Kaulig in 2023, he also competed in select Xfinity events with Kaulig, beginning at Circuit of the Americas in March. During the event, he led a race-high 28 of 46 laps from pole position and fended off William Byron to defend his race-winning title in Austin and notch his 16th career victory in the series. He would proceed to finish in the runner-up spot during the inaugural Xfinity event at Sonoma Raceway before rallying from an early spin to win at Nashville Superspeedway, both occurring in June. Allmendinger’s final two Xfinity starts of the season occurred at Road America in late July and Indianapolis in August, where he finished ninth and third, respectively.

Scaling back to the Xfinity Series for this season, Allmendinger is coming off a 10th-place run in this year’s season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway as he reignites his bid for his first series title. He is currently ranked in a tie with Chandler Smith for seventh place on the 2024 Xfinity driver’s standings.

Through 99 previous Xfinity starts, Allmendinger has notched 17 victories, 11 poles, 50 top-five results, 69 top-10 results, 1,272 laps led with an average-finishing result of 9.3.

Allmendinger is scheduled to make his 100th Xfinity Series career start at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the RAPTOR King of Tough 250. The event is scheduled to occur on Saturday, February 24, and air at 5 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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