Allmendinger back at Daytona in 1st Cup race since 2018

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — AJ Allmendinger is back, racing for wins this time, and excited to assist young Kaulig Racing reach the huge program.

Allmendinger will run his very first Cup race because the 2018 season ending in Kaulig’s very first Cup race not at a superspeedway. The group recently made its 2nd Daytona 500 — a vital initial step in attempting to end up being a full-time Cup group — and now its cleaned off ol’ ‘Dinger to take another shot Sunday on Daytona’s roadway course.

Allmendinger is a ringer with 15 looks in the Rolex 24 cars race in Daytona. Almost everybody else? The bulk of the Cup field ran it for the really very first time last August, when the pandemic pressed Daytona’s winding 14-turn, 3.61-mile circuit onto the calendar for the very first time.

His familiarity with Daytona made Allmendinger the clever choice for Matt Kaulig to take another advance. NASCAR included Sunday’s roadway course race to the schedule in December and Kaulig encouraged his “trophy hunter” Allmendinger to assist pull the group to the leading level.

“I am pumped to be racing in the Cup Series for Kaulig Racing,” Allmendinger stated.

Allmendinger was tired of the grind when he lost his job at the end of 2018. He had no desire to drive for average groups simply to have a seat. He chose to proceed with his life.

He prepared to do tv work and perhaps moonlight for group owners he thinks about buddies. Kaulig kept Allmendinger took part in 2019 by providing him quality cars and trucks that might win in 5 Xfinity races. The program swelled to 11 races last season and the “Trophy Hunter” had 3 success in 16 starts.

Allmendinger was assisting Kaulig grow a program. The group began in 2016 and this season Allmendinger will run full-time for the Xfinity champion as one of 3 Kaulig competitors. He’ll likewise drive choose Cup races as part of Kaulig’s advancement.

Having a main function in Kaulig’s push to the top has actually made NASCAR satisfying once again for Allmendinger. He kept in mind recently when Kaz Grala made his very first Daytona 500 begin simply how unique the sport had actually as soon as been to him.

“I was standing next to Kaz by the car during driver intros and I think veterans sometimes, we lose sight of how big the 500 is,” Allmendinger stated. “When you are just standing there and you see somebody who has made his first 500, his eyes lit up — it made me feel good.”

TRACK MODIFICATION

NASCAR today fine-tuned the backstretch chicane on the Daytona course after dirt and lawn played an essential function in the Feb. 9 unpleasant Busch Clash.

Chauffeurs because exhibit discovered the difficult method not to cut that chicane due to the fact that in short-cutting some asphalt they were dragging particles all over the speedway. Martin Truex Jr. damaged while leading when he drove through dirt; others grumbled about windscreen presence.

NASCAR, based upon motorist tips, included rumble strips to the backstretch chicane to avoid chauffeurs from utilizing the lawn. The rumble strip to the motorist’s right has to do with 36 feet long; the strip to the motorist’s left has to do with 30 feet.

NASCAR champ Chase Elliott wasn’t encouraged the strips were essential.

“If there’s dirt on the track, don’t run through the dirt, that’s pretty simple,” Elliott stated. “As long as there’s grass there, I’d say there’s going to be dirt underneath.”

GOING FOR 5

Elliott has actually won the last 4 points-paying Cup roadway races dating to 2019, a streak that consists of NASCAR’s launching on Daytona’s course last August.

He fell short in the Clash after spinning buddy Ryan Blaney in the 13th of the 14 turns as the 2 raced for the triumph. Kyle Busch travelled previous Elliott and Blaney for the win. Blaney had words with his pal as they stood along with Blaney’s damaged cars and truck.

Elliott was sorry for messing up Blaney’s race, however the Cup champ stated he most likely would not alter how he raced.

“If I’m not trying to win, then what am I doing? And I think that’s pretty cut and dry, right?” Elliott stated.

Elliott is bound to be simply as aggressive Sunday when he tries to find a 5th successive roadway course triumph. It would be his 6th general and tie him for 3rd on the profession list with — get this — NASCAR greats Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace.

Elliott in simply 5 years has actually filled NASCAR’s job for king of the roadway. Jeff Gordon’s record 9 wins and Tony Stewart’s mark of 8 are within reach for the 25-year-old.

McDOWELL’S MOMENTUM

Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell has a strong chance Sunday to provide Front Row Motorsports the very best start in group history.

The group has actually constantly focused on its roadway course and superspeedway programs due to the fact that those circuits provide little groups a competitive opportunity. These are the precise tracks where FRM believed it would succeed, and a pandemic scheduling modification offered FRM a genuine two-week opportunity.

The longshot Daytona 500 win made McDowell his very first playoff berth and FRM now is placed to develop a once unimaginable cushion. McDowell was 10th in NASCAR’s launching on Daytona’s roadway course last August.

This roadway course race was contributed to NASCAR’s schedule in December due to the fact that COVID-19 constraints would not enable a stop at Fontana, California. It took navigating to make it work and Homestead-Miami Speedway, the initial 2nd race of the season, was pressed back one week into Fontana’s initial dates.

The Daytona roadway course was wedged into the open slot, producing 2 weekends of really various racing that quite fits Furnishings Row. The group can now take bets it never ever would attempt previously, and now McDowell can seriously try another upset. This one would make him simply the 6th Daytona 500 winner to likewise win the next race.

NASCAR goes next to Homestead to start a stretch of oval racing — normally the time the leading groups start to retreat.

ODD AND ENDS

Austin Dillon is the points leader for the very first time. He ended up third behind McDowell and Elliott in the Daytona 500 and ran his very first Rolex 24 cars race in January to experience the roadway course for the very first time. Dillon missed out on the Cup race in August due to the fact that he’d got a favorable COVID-19 test. … Elliott is the 9-5 wagering preferred, followed by Truex at 3-1. Truex had among the very best cars and trucks in the Clash till he crashed from the lead and ended up last in 21st. … Kevin James is the grand marshal in a promo for a Netflix reveal about a NASCAR group. “The Crew” includes a handful of existing Cup chauffeurs and cars and trucks owned by Spire Motorsports.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.