AJ Allmendinger solidifies the Round of 8 lineup with win in Charlotte

Aj Allmendinger racing the No. 16 car. Photo courtesy of Zach Catanzareti Photo.

AJ Allmendinger took first place in Concord, North Carolina for the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. The last road course of the NASCAR season and the last race before the beginning of the round of 8, stage three of NASCAR playoffs.

Allmendinger led the race for 46 laps and drove his No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro across the checkered line in first, despite not being a contender in the playoffs. This race set the standings of which drivers are advancing to the next round. 

A very emotional win for Allmendinger who is serving his first full NASCAR season of his cup return, he cried during his post race interview to NBC reporters. 

“Because you don’t know when you’re going to do it again. I love all the men and women at Kaulig racing so much,” Allmendinger said with tears in his eyes before yelling to the crowd. “It’s a freaking cup race man you don’t know when its ever going to happen again, lets go, come on!”

William Byron took second in the race. Byron is currently in first for playoffs standings and advances to the third round. In the post race interview, Bryon told NBC what he needed in the final couple laps of stage three. 

“Just one final run to get within a car length, you know the air buffer is tough with three to four car lengths, but once you get within one you can kind of manipulate his car a little bit.” Byron said.

Kyle Busch took third place in Sunday’s race, but it wasn’t enough to move him out from under the elimination line.  Busch stands in 12th for playoff standings and will not be advancing to the round of 8. The next race is taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada, Busch’s home town. 

Bubba Wallace did not make it to the Round of 8 after his 16th place finish at Charlotte Roval, leaving him 11th in playoff standings and cutting his season short. 

Wallace reflected on his performance in this season’s playoffs and told NBC what he thought was missing.

“Texas. That’s what I thought about after we got spun there. You know this weekend was incredible just from the effort from the team and from myself just all clicking right and it felt really good to be competitive and run up front.” Wallace said. 

Christopher Bell placed 15th and holds the seventh spot in the drivers moving onto the next round of playoffs. 

Bell made contact with the No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro of Daniel Suarez. In Stage 3 with 15 laps to go, Bell nudged the left-rear corner panel of Suarez causing No. 99 to spin off the track. 

“I mean I’m sure that he’s upset with me and obviously that was not my intention to spin him out but you know today was I don’t know, it was what it needed to be.” Bell said to NBC Sports. 

Suarez finished the race in 33rd after his contact with Bell. 

Ryan Blaney ran 12th in his No. 12 Ford Mustang. Blaney is seeded eighth out of eight in stage three of playoffs. He moves on to race in Las Vegas and looks to start the round of 4 off strong. 

“Just try to get prepared as much as you can, that’s been a pretty good track for us in the past. Hopefully we can go and have a good run and start this round off on the right foot.” Blaney said to NBC Sports. 

The drivers that are moving on to the Round of 8 are as follows, Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick, and Blaney, are all still in the running for the NASCAR championship. Drivers, Brad Keselowski, Ross Chastain, Wallace, and Busch, have been eliminated and cut their playoffs short.

Next weekend the drivers head to Las Vegas, Nevada for the South Point 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, to kick off the round of 8. The race will commence Oct. 15 at 11:30 a.m.


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