Allmendinger tops Byron to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in COTA, my top 5 takeaways

A.J. Allmendinger started on pole position and won the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Pit Boss 250 presented by USA Today on Saturday afternoon on the world-renowned Circuit of The Americas road course.

The 46 laps in between the green and checkered flags, however, were dramatic and full of emotional highs and lows for the veteran Allmendinger, who led 14 laps to start the race and the final 14 laps to close it out. The series’ all-time road course winner earned his 11th road course trophy (and 16th career Xfinity Series trophy) despite having to navigate through the field after falling back to 25th place during mid-race green flag pit stops.

It was a major league road course lesson for the rest of the field as the 41-year-old Californian diced and sliced his way forward in the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet to win this race for the second consecutive year. He ultimately took a 0.853s victory over relentless Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron in the No. 17 Chevrolet.

“William Byron put his best foot forward, you’ve seen all the Cup races he’s winning,” Allmendinger said of the season’s two-race winner Byron. “I knew it was going to be tough just trying to fight to get back up to the front there. Hate that I had contact with Sheldon (Creed), he got under me, I was trying to stay off him, so I hate that happened but so proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing. The Celsius Chevy was really hooked up and with all the damage we had it didn’t hurt the car.

“I spent a lot of years not winning anything so I’m going to celebrate every one of them like it’s my last one,” Allmendinger said. “You never know. As much pressure as I put on myself, I’m always going to try to live up to it. The pit crew was awesome and I’m so proud of everyone.”

NASCAR Cup Series rookie Ty Gibbs – the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion – finished third in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota, just ahead of his JGR teammate Sammy Smith and veteran JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier.

The 3.41-mile, 20-turn COTA track is regarded as one of the more challenging stops on the NASCAR schedule and Allmendinger certainly had his work cut out for him on Saturday. He led early, but was shuffled back after winning Stage 1 and gambling on a pit stop later than the other frontrunners.

Forced to lineup for a re-start toward the back of the field – and miscommunication from the team to driver regarding the exact position he should take – left him 25th near the race midpoint. He answered by reeling off one car after another and made his way into the top-10 with 15 laps remaining – making a dramatic push forward on that final restart to go from sixth to first with 14 laps remaining. He took the lead after a spirited battle with Sheldon Creed, who spun out after contact between the two.

Allmendinger then drove off to more than a 1s gap on the field, but, was doggedly chased by Byron, who will start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at COTA from the pole position.

“I was getting one final run at him, but obviously they were really good all day, just great at these road courses,” Byron said. “Just a little bit to gain and then made a mistake (navigating the esses).

“It was a great effort, just need to clean it up in the cars…but had a lot of fun racing,” Byron added.

Kaulig Racing’s Daniel Hemric, JR Motorsports teammates Sam Mayer and Josh Berry, Creed and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst rounded out the top 10.

Austin Hill, a three-race winner in 2023 that was leading the championship standings by nearly 50 points coming into Austin, suffered mechanical problems in his No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and took a DNF. He still holds a 15-point advantage over Herbst atop the championship, however.

Allmendinger Unstoppable Force On Road Courses

AJ Allmendinger has won 18 times in NASCAR. 13 of those 18 victories have come on road courses including 11 of which in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. 4 of his 5 trips to victory lane in 2022 were on road courses (COTA, Portland, Indianapolis, Charlotte ROVAL). So were 2 of his final 4 wins in 2021.

Double Duty Drivers Finish 1-2-3

AJ Allmendinger is just so good in road courses which is why it was a no brainer to have him race Kaulig’s All-Star car here this weekend. William Byron needs reps as he’s 0-for-21 in terms of top five finishes in the Cup Series on road courses. Ty Gibbs just needs to see the ball go in the hoops, which his why Joe Gibbs Racing put him in their All-Star car here this weekend.

The trio went 1-2-3 on Sunday and carry some much needed momentum and even more importance, some confidence into Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN).

Same Winners This Weekend Than Last Year

For the 2022 COTA race weekend, Zane Smith won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Later in the day, AJ Allmendinger was victorious in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event. A day after, Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win.

So far, this weekend is looking a lot like last.

Smith won the Truck race and Allmendinger in the Xfinity Series. Does that bode well for Chastain on Sunday? He starts 12th.

Much Needed Top 5 For Allgaier

Justin Allgaier is riding a 21 race winless streak now. However, he started the 2023 season off on a roll with finishes of 3rd, 3rd and 2nd respectively over the opening three weeks. Then came a 36th place finish in Phoenix and 29th in Atlanta. This weekend, Allgaier got back up front with his fourth top five finish in his No. 7 Chevrolet in the first six weeks. He brought his JR Motorsports car home in fifth. He was 33rd here last year but third in 2021.

This pushes him to 132 career top five finishes which is now seven shy of tying Matt Kenseth for third most ever. Only Kyle Busch (225) and Kevin Harvick (186) have more.

JRM had 3 cars in the top 8 on Saturday afternoon. Josh Berry was one of them in eighth. That’s his fourth consecutive top eight finish on the year (5th, 5th, 8th, 7th, 8th).

Dash 4 Cash Set

COTA was the qualifying race for the opening round of the 2023 Dash 4 Cash. The top four Xfinity Series regulars on Saturday would be eligible for the $100k bonus next week at the Richmond (VA) Raceway. Those drivers were Sammy Smith (4th place), Justin Allgaier (5th place), Daniel Hemric (6th place) and Sam Mayer (7th place).

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – Pit Boss 250 presented by USA Today

Circuit of The Americas

Austin, Texas

Saturday, March 25, 2023


                1. (1)  AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 46.

                2. (9)  William Byron(i), Chevrolet, 46.

                3. (3)  Ty Gibbs(i), Toyota, 46.

                4. (2)  Sammy Smith #, Toyota, 46.

                5. (8)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 46.

                6. (11)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 46.

                7. (14)  Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 46.

                8. (15)  Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 46.

                9. (4)  Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 46.

                10. (7)  Riley Herbst, Ford, 46.

                11. (26)  Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 46.

                12. (27)  Chandler Smith #, Chevrolet, 46.

                13. (18)  Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, 46.

                14. (25)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 46.

                15. (23)  Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 46.

                16. (29)  Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 46.

                17. (34)  Parker Retzlaff #, Chevrolet, 46.

                18. (20)  Kaz Grala, Toyota, 46.

                19. (22)  Connor Mosack, Toyota, 46.

                20. (32)  Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 46.

                21. (21)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 46.

                22. (33)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 46.

                23. (31)  Ryan Sieg, Ford, 46.

                24. (13)  Aric Almirola(i), Ford, 46.

                25. (36)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 46.

                26. (38)  Kyle Sieg, Ford, 46.

                27. (6)  John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 46.

                28. (24)  Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 46.

                29. (30)  Brad Perez, Chevrolet, 46.

                30. (35)  Joe Graf Jr., Ford, 46.

                31. (5)  Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 46.

                32. (10)  Cole Custer, Ford, 45.

                33. (37)  Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, Steering, 29.

                34. (28)  Brett Moffitt, Ford, Engine, 27.

                35. (16)  Sage Karam, Chevrolet, Engine, 23.

                36. (19)  Preston Pardus, Chevrolet, Suspension, 16.

                37. (12)  Austin Hill, Chevrolet, Engine, 13.

                38. (17)  Carson Hocevar(i), Chevrolet, Transmission, 7.


Average Speed of Race Winner:  75.263 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 5 Mins, 3 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.853 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 7 laps.

Lead Changes:  6 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Allmendinger(i) 1-14;S. Creed 15-26;W. Byron(i) 27;S. Creed 28;P. Kligerman 29;S. Creed 30-32;A. Allmendinger(i) 33-46.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  AJ Allmendinger(i) 2 times for 28 laps; Sheldon Creed 3 times for 16 laps; Parker Kligerman 1 time for 1 lap; William Byron(i) 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 10,2,48,19,17,98,7,9,18,1

Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,39,20,08,8,10,17,19,18,27

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