DOVER, DE — official release — Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America photo — Few gave AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola much of chance to advance to the Contender Round.
Yet, both are on the verge doing exactly that.
Both drivers remain alive in the Chase, more than holding their own, with Allmendinger in great shape to advance the Contender Round, sitting 10th on the Chase Grid. The JTG Daugherty Racing driver controls his own playoff destiny in Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on ESPN), where he can advance with at least a second-place finish, regardless how his fellow competitors perform. There are plenty of other scenarios in which Allmendinger can clinch a spot in the next round, but a runner-up guarantees advancement.
Almirola has some work to do, trailing Ryan Newman by 10 points for the final Contender Round spot. However, he would be close to a lock to advance after this weekend if his engine didn’t blow at Chicagoland where he was running sixth with 36 laps left before being forced to head to the garage. The No. 43 Nathan’s Famous Ford pilot finished sixth last week and has shown some speed lately with three top 10s in his last four races.
Almirola can lock himself into the Contender Round with a win on Sunday, but he would need help from the field with any other finish.