LEBANON, TENN. — A.J. Allmendinger and Kaulig Racing survived a wreck-filled NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway.
Allmendinger led the final 20 laps and pulled off his second win of the Xfinity Series season. He earned it after a fierce battle with Cole Custer and teammate Chandler Smith, who led a race-high 74 laps.
Smith won stage two but settled for 12th. During the first overtime attempt, he spun in turn one after Josh Berry slid into him.
At one point, the young driver ran second to Allmendinger while teammate Daniel Hemric ran fourth.
Hemric led a lap Saturday, which is the fifth time he has led on a non-drafting track since joining Kaulig last year.
Kaulig Racing now has three wins on the season. Allmendinger also won at Circuit of the Americas in March while Smith won at Richmond in April.
Allmendinger now has 17 Xfinity Series wins but only five on a non-draft-dominant oval track.
The top 10 finishers Saturday are as follows: Allmendinger, Riley Herbst (career-best), Sam Mayer, Austin Hill, Josh Berry, John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer, Parker Retzlaff
Stage one featured three wrecks in the first 21 laps:
- Lap 1: Kyle and Ryan Sieg, Justin Allgaier, Jeb Burton and Stefan Parsons wrecked in turn one. Parsons fell out of the race
- Lap 10: Austin Hill spun in turn four and wrecked into Jeb Burton
- Lap 19: Ryan Ellis, Chad Chastain involved in an incident
Ty Gibbs won the stage over Cole Custer, A.J. Allmendinger, Carson Hocevar, Sammy Smith, Chandler Smith, Riley Herbst, Sam Mayer, John Hunter Nemechek and Parker Kligerman.
However, Gibbs didn’t even survive the first turn of the second stage.
Austin Hill began stage two in the lead with old tires. Hill slid, bumped into Gibbs who tagged Allmendinger and spun into Carson Hocevar’s path.
Hocevar slammed into the side of Gibbs’ car, taking them both out of the race at lap 53.
Toyota may have been better off averting their eyes as, nine laps later, Connor Mosack spun in turn two and overcorrected into the outside wall on lap 62.
Eight laps after that, on lap 70, Sheldon Creed and Sammy Smith entered turn one side-by-side. Smith, as he later admitted, pinned Creed on the bottom of the track, causing Creed’s car to snap and bump into Smith’s car.
They each spun but Smith backed into the outside wall and tagged Brandon Jones.
Smith joined Toyota teammate Mosack in the garage while Jones and Creed continued.
From there, Chandler Smith claimed stage two ahead of Custer, Daniel Hemric, Mayer, Herbst, Nemechek, Zane Smith, Josh Berry, Parker Retzlaff and Brett Moffitt.
Before a 75-lap green-flag run in the final stage, there was only one more caution, for Parker Kligerman spinning in turn four on lap 105 after slowing with a tire issue in front of Kaz Grala.
Custer and Smith fiercely battled for the lead, which brought Allmendinger into the mix. He pounced on lap 142 and led for four laps before green-flag pit stops.
Afterward, Allmendinger was in third but quickly passed Smith and Custer and reclaimed the lead.
With five to go, Allmendinger had the win locked up until Chad Chastain spun exiting turn four.
During the subsequent caution, Allmendinger and five other drivers stayed out while the other eight lead-lap drivers pitted for newer scuff tires.
It didn’t matter as, even after a caution for Josh Berry sliding into and spinning Chandler Smith in turn one, Allmendinger held on and won.
Continuing Kaulig’s good results, Daniel Hemric now has a 28-point advantage over Parker Kligerman for the final playoff spot.
Sam Mayer (+58) and Riley Herbst (+45) also have solid advantages but Brandon Jones (-51) and Brett Moffitt (-83) have some work to do.
The next race for them and the rest of the NASCAR Xfinity Series is next Saturday’s The Loop 121 inaugural race at the Chicago Street Course (5 p.m. ET; TV: USA).