WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Following contact between A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Larson during the final corner in the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, the Chip Ganassi Racing hotshoe has promised payback to the road course specialist.
Both drivers entered the second and final road course event on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule in similar situations — looking to win and guarantee their positions on the Chase Grid.
However, after the last lap contact — which relegated Larson to a disappointing 29th place finish –the two would leave New York in much different positions as the Chase draws nearer.
During the final corner, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr., who were both battling for the second position, made contact — sending Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet spinning. While avoiding further incident and looking to gain positions, Larson and Allmendinger continued to do battle.
Exiting the corner, Allmendinger tapped Larson’s bumper, sending the 2014 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year spinning into the guardrail.
“We were about a 10th place car and we were going to get a top five day out of it,” Larson said. “We were running sixth coming to [the final turn]; the No. 47 was behind me. [Allmendinger] is always aggressive, but I figured he would be smart.”
“Obviously, the No. 78 was spinning in front of us. That is a free spot for both of us and [Allmendinger] just dumped me. He had already ran me down to the front stretch wall once with about 15 to go or so. Pretty dumb move right there too, but I was the smarter one racing for points, lifted … could have wrecked him, but didn’t.”
After entering the race with a comfortable cushion, Larson now holds a scant eight point cushion over Roush Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne for the final position in the postseason. Points were not his concern after the race, however.
Larson is looking for payback going forward, claiming the ‘feud’ between he and Allmendinger stemmed from an incident earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“He wrecked me earlier in the year at Vegas,” the Elk Grove, California native expressed. “He has ran me hard (in the past). We always race pretty well, but today was flat out stupid.”
“I love his crew chief (Randall Burnett) to death; he was our engineer last year. It just sucks they are going to have to start building some more race cars, because he has got a few coming.”
On the other hand, Allmendinger exited the road course with a fourth place finish in hand and moved to 19th in the championship standings — 32 markers behind Larson for the final spot on the grid.
Following the race on pit road, Allmendinger was apologetic for the contact and took the blame on his shoulders, though he admitted Larson would, probably, be rightfully “pissed off.”
“I turned him. Not on purpose,” Allmendinger said. “The No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) started to spin and Kyle and I were racing for fifth there. He defended on the inside, which he should have. And I tried to cut under him off of the last corner and the No. 78 was coming back across the race track.”
“I was under him. He turned. And I just clipped him. I’m just not very happy with myself on that. I don’t want to do that, especially for fourth place. And he did a great job. It’s on me. I never meant to do it. It’s not going to help the case. I know he’s going to be pissed off and he should be pissed off. I’d be.”
The duo will have an off week to digest the incident before returning to action on Aug. 20, when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race.
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and handles public relations needs in multiple outlets of motorsports, including for tracks and drivers. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Maryland, completing his junior year. He is just 16 years old.
Email Marshall at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Twitter: @MarshallGabell
Email Race Chaser Online: email@example.com
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews