Allmendinger Splashes to an Xfinity Win on the Charlotte ROVAL

Allmendinger splashes to an Xfinity win in the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway's ROVAL on Saturday afternoon.
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 16 Ellsworth Advisors Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2020, in Concord, North Carolina. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Allmendinger splashes to an Xfinity win in the Drive for the Cure 250 at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL on Saturday afternoon.

Prevailing in a hard-fought NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff race, AJ Allmendinger wins the Drive for the Cure 250 that ends in overtime on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL on Saturday evening. After a long afternoon negotiating the road course in rainy weather against a field of drivers with championship hopes on the line, the veteran edged 22-year old Noah Gragson by a mere 0.446-seconds in a rooster-tail run to the checkered flag.

The Top-Ten on the Charlotte ROVAL

The victory marks the second win of the season for Allmendinger in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet and his second career win on the ROVAL.

Daniel Hemric, Alex Labbe, and Ross Chastain round out the top-five. Team Penske’s Austin Cindric, Cody Ware, Jade Buford, Michael Annett and Brandon Jones completed the top-ten.

The Round of 12 Ends on the ROVAL

The Drive for the Cure 250 was the final race in the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs with Chase Briscoe, Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Gragson, Justin Haley, Jones, Chastain, and Ryan Sieg advancing to the next three-race round of Playoff competition that begins next week at Kansas Speedway.

Drivers Harrison Burton, Brandon Brown, Michael Annett, and Riley Herbst were eliminated from Playoff contention at Charlotte.

Allmendinger Splashes to an Xfinity Win

With the challenging weather conditions – heavy rain and high winds – it was a victory Allmendinger conceded he would remember for a while – a race the whole field will remember for a while.

“I don’t know what we just witnessed,” Allmendinger said with a smile. “I was complaining the whole race. Crazy. The 98 Chase Briscoe was doing a fantastic job. I didn’t really have anything for him after a couple laps but I knew that final restart I was going to do everything I could.”

Allmendinger and Briscoe, the driver of the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, were vying for the win, door-to-door, corner-by-corner in the closing laps which featured five lead changes between the two in just the final 17 laps of the 68-lap overtime thriller.

Briscoe Contends for the Lead

Briscoe was leading with three laps remaining when a caution flag came out for Brown, whose car was precariously disabled alongside the track. Racing side-by-side for the lead on the ensuing restart, Briscoe spun out in the first turn, allowing Allmendinger the opportunity to take control of the race and navigate the wet track to victory. Briscoe, who led a race-best 23 laps, finished 18th instead.

“Driver just made a mistake,” said Briscoe, who with eight wins is still the top-seeded Playoff driver heading into the next round.

“In conditions like this you’ve got to be at 100 percent and I tried going 110 and it bit me. Very unfortunate. That one’s going to sting for a long time. I feel like I did my job for about 95 percent of the day, right.”

Gragson versus Herbst

That was a familiar refrain on Saturday in a rare NASCAR road course event that called for rain tires, drivers’ patience and resolve. Gragson, for example, was involved in multiple incidents on track.

He and fellow Playoff contender Herbst collided only 28 laps into the race, and later contact between the two further damaged Gragson’s No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Still he was able to come back and turn in a podium-worthy finish.

The Cutline Drivers Racing Hard to Advance

The Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Herbst was one of the four Playoff drivers who needed to gain massive points or straight out win the race for an opportunity to advance to the next round. He led seven laps, but finished 12th –  ultimately recovering from a spin in overtime as well.

Fellow rookie Harrison Burton, a two-race winner this season and Herbst’s JGR teammate, also looked strong early in the race contending among the front of the field, even if he didn’t lead laps. His No. 20 JGR Toyota had a transmission problem and he was scored 33rd of the 38 drivers.

The Georgia native Sieg, who drives the No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet for his family-owned team, was able to take advantage of others misfortune Sunday and continue what’s been a career season for the 33-year old. He ranks eighth heading to the next Playoff round. His previous best series career championship finish was ninth place in 2016. He was 11th last year.

The Charlotte ROVAL Brings a Common Refrain

While Sieg and certainly Allmendinger were on the upside of fortunate, all the drivers climbed out of their cars with a similar refrain.

“It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before,” Hemric said. “I’m going to sit back with a cold one and watch [the NASCAR Cup Series race at the ROVAL] tomorrow.”

Up Next

The Xfinity Series resumes the Playoff schedule next Saturday, Oct. 17 at Kansas Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). With the points reset for this round, Briscoe takes a ten-point lead over regular-season champion Cindric and is 27 points up on third place Allgaier.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 39th Annual Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

Concord, North Carolina

Saturday, October 10, 2020

               1. (22)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 68.

               2. (1)  Noah Gragson (P), Chevrolet, 68.

               3. (3)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 68.

               4. (16)  Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 68.

               5. (5)  Ross Chastain (P), Chevrolet, 68.

               6. (11)  Austin Cindric (P), Ford, 68.

               7. (38)  Cody Ware, Ford, 68.

               8. (24)  Jade Buford, Chevrolet, 68.

               9. (14)  Michael Annett (P), Chevrolet, 68.

               10. (4)  Brandon Jones (P), Toyota, 68.

               11. (26)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 68.

               12. (13)  Riley Herbst # (P), Toyota, 68.

               13. (32)  Josh Bilicki, Toyota, 68.

               14. (21)  Myatt Snider #, Chevrolet, 68.

               15. (31)  Joe Graf Jr #, Chevrolet, 68.

               16. (18)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 68.

               17. (25)  Ryan Vargas, Chevrolet, 68.

               18. (8)  Chase Briscoe (P), Ford, 68.

               19. (20)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 68.

               20. (34)  Kody Vanderwal #, Chevrolet, 68.

               21. (6)  Ryan Sieg (P), Chevrolet, 68.

               22. (29)  BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 68.

               23. (10)  Justin Allgaier (P), Chevrolet, 68.

               24. (28)  Stephen Leicht, Toyota, 68.

               25. (23)  Matt Mills, Toyota, 67.

               26. (7)  Brandon Brown (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 63.

               27. (17)  Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 63.

               28. (33)  Gray Gaulding(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 60.

               29. (36)  CJ McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 54.

               30. (37)  Jesse Little #, Chevrolet, Engine, 48.

               31. (12)  Kaz Grala, Chevrolet, Suspension, 44.

               32. (30)  Preston Pardus, Chevrolet, Ignition, 41.

               33. (9)  Harrison Burton # (P), Toyota, Transmission, 37.

               34. (15)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Accident, 36.

               35. (2)  Justin Haley (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 34.

               36. (27)  Austin Hill(i), Toyota, Accident, 13.

               37. (35)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, Accident, 13.

               38. (19)  Brett Moffitt(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 2.

The Drive for the Cure 250 Stats

Average Speed of Race Winner:  58.041 mph.

Time of Race:  Two Hrs, 43 Mins, Five Secs. The Margin of Victory:  0.446 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  Ten for 24 laps.

Lead Changes:  14 among six drivers.

Lap Leaders:   N. Gragson (P) 1-4;J. Haley (P) 5-6;N. Gragson (P) 7-13;J. Haley (P) 14-18;N. Gragson (P) 19;K. Grala 20-22;N. Gragson (P) 23-26;R. Herbst # (P) 27-33;A. Allmendinger 34-35;C. Briscoe (P) 36-50;A. Allmendinger 51-55;C. Briscoe (P) 56-60;A. Allmendinger 61-63;C. Briscoe (P) 64-66;A. Allmendinger 67-68.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Chase Briscoe (P) three times for 23 laps; Noah Gragson (P) four times for 16 laps; AJ Allmendinger four times for 12 laps; Riley Herbst # (P) one time for seven laps; Justin Haley (P) two times for seven laps; Kaz Grala one time for three laps.

Stage 1 Top-Ten: 21,9,36,11,7,10,8,92,90,68

Stage 2 Top-Ten: 98,10,36,22,9,8,68,7,74,07