A.J. Allmendinger is trying to prove that he deserves a top ride in NASCAR. Well, he’s doing a pretty good job of that.
Allmendinger took his Penske Racing Ford Mustang to the front of the field early in the going for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and never gave way. In dominating fashion, Allmendinger took his second career checkered flag, winning the inaugural NASCAR race at Mid-Ohio.
Allmendinger’s win propels the No. 22 car to have a 22-point lead over the No. 54 car in the owners points. His win is the second of the year for the driver who at this time last year was just attempting to get back into the sport after being suspended. Allmendinger is also attempting to lock up a full-time ride for next season after racing on a part-time basis for Phoenix Racing and JTG/Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year.
Michael McDowell was able to finish second from the pole after Owen Kelly was hit by Sam Hornish Jr. The second place finish should help McDowell lock up additional races for the 2014 season and possibly give him a little more exposure to get his team a sponsor on the Cup Series side of the equation.
Hornish Jr. was able to finish third and was the highest finishing NASCAR Nationwide Series regular. He now has a 13-point advantage over Elliott Sadler who had a controversial day like much of the field. Sadler got into Regan Smith, spinning Smith out which many fans on Twitter believed to be payback for Smith wrecking Sadler at New Hampshire a few weeks ago. Smith ended up getting involved in a few more accidents before he evidently killed his car with a slam into the tire barriers, finishing 15th. The points leader entering the day, Austin Dillon, finished 21st after making a giant mistake, opting to run practice at Michigan on Saturday morning instead of getting extra time in the Nationwide Series car. Dillon is now tied for third in points with Smith after also spinning out several times throughout the event.
Kyle Larson was flat out amazing on Saturday afternoon. Larson was sent spinning into the tire barriers on the first lap and went three laps down early on. However, thanks to a few timely cautions, Larson took advantage of the lucky dog rule and rallied back to finish 14th and would have finished inside of the top-10 if the final caution didn’t come out.
Marcos Amrbose had an adventurous day. After starting at the back of the field, Ambrose drove his No. 9 car up to the top-10 quickly, but after getting into a few cars, including Justin Allgaier who rebounded to finish eighth. However, the biggest shock inside of the top-10 was Jeremy Clements. Clements ran approximately 18th-20th all day in his self-owned team and some how cracked inside the top-10 when the majority of the top-15 pitted during the final caution. Alex Bowman was the highest finishing rookie as he ended the day in 11th, just ahead of Parker Kligerman who had a top-five car, but had to pit towards the end of the race for fuel. Nelson Piquet Jr. was going to have a top-10 finish easily, but he ran out of gas on the last lap along with Ron Fellows.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.