A well-timed pit stop on lap 43 earned A.J. Allmendinger and Kaulig Racing their first NASCAR Cup Series win in more than two years.
Corey LaJoie spun Josh Bilicki into the wall on lap 49 in turn two. That ended stage two early and altered many frontrunners’ strategies, including Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace.
A.J. Allmendinger didn’t mind. He pitted on lap 43 and jumped to second when stage three began on lap 53.
Then, five laps later, he took the lead from Kyle Busch and never looked back, save for a few laps during green-flag pit stops.
Allmendinger held off a hard-charging William Byron and earned his and Kaulig Racing’s first win at Indianapolis in August 2021.
“You don’t know when you’re gonna do it again. I love the men and women at Kaulig Racing. I usually give away the checkered flag but I’m gonna have to wrap this checkered flag around Aero [my new baby boy],” Allmendinger said. “I hate that I’m crying but it’s a frigging Cup race, you don’t know when you’re gonna win again! Let’s go!”
TOP-10 FINISHERS: Allmendinger, William Byron, Kyle Busch, Ty Gibbs, Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain
The first two stages ran cleanly with no cautions for incident until that lap 49 incident.
STAGE ONE TOP-10: Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Ty Gibbs, A.J. Allmendinger
STAGE TWO TOP-10: Elliott, Bell, Denny Hamlin, Reddick, Kyle Larson, Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Truex Jr., McDowell, Busch
Denny Hamlin locked into the Round of 8 after stage two so he didn’t need to worry about stage three turning into calamity.
On lap 77, he and Mike Rockenfeller wrecked in the frontstretch chicane. That took him out of the race and back to last (37th).
Three cautions fell in the next 18 laps:
- Lap 81: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun Erik Jones into the path of Michael McDowell exiting turn one. McDowell sustained front-end damage while Jones wrecked out and finished 36th
- Lap 86: Andy Lally spun in turn two, then stalled while using the pit road exit road. Lally wrecked out, finishing 35th
- Lap 95: Christopher Bell bumped into Daniel Suarez coming onto the oval in turn one. Suarez sustained rear-end damage and fell to 33rd in the end, on the lead lap
During the subsequent restart, on lap 98, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s car burst into flames in turn two. Stenhouse got out of the car as the car was engulfed in smoke.
Stenhouse finished 34th. Last year, there were several similar-looking fires that warranted NASCAR’s investigation. They will investigate what happened with Stenhouse’s car Sunday.
The NASCAR Cup Series moves on to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Round of 8 opener (2:30 p.m. ET; Broadcast: NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90).