AJ Allmendinger had just won the first stage of Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 when his race – and his engine – fell apart.
Allmendinger started fifth and quickly worked his way into second place during the first stage, only to surrender the runner-up spot to Kevin Harvick on lap 15 of the 25-lap stage. But when Martin Truex Jr. and Harvick pitted early on lap 22, Allmendinger inherited the top spot and held it through the green/checkered flag, collecting the first stage win of his career.
Allmendinger brought the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Chevrolet to pit road during the caution between stages and restart 17th on lap 30. Four circuits later, however, his race came to an end when Allmendinger missed a shift and blew the engine in his Chevy, ruining one of his best chances to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
“I just missed a shift,” the disconsolate driver said afterward. “I haven’t missed a shift in probably ten years on a road course. The best gearboxes I have had since I’ve ever been here, and, I don’t know – I just missed a shift.
“Just trying to be patient back there and set up each move. The car was pretty good. I don’t know if it was race-winning… we needed to work on the long run, but, believe me, when it happened I was in a lot of disbelief and shock. I wasn’t ready for it and let everybody down on this race team.”