It was a wild day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, but when it was all said and done it was the best car that won the race as AJ Allmendinger pulled through to win his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Allmendinger led 73 laps and was by far the best car all day long.
Allmendinger was concerned about a late race caution.
"This Discount Tire Ford was awesome on long runs and it was slick on the short run so I was nervous," Allmendinger said in victory lane.
The No. 22 Penske Racing team pulled through for their eighth win of the season and a season sweep of the three road course races. Allmendinger won at Road America and Brad Keselowski last week at Watkins Glen.
Michael McDowell fought hard for a second place finish in Joe Gibbs #18 Toyota. Finishing in the third position was Sam Hornish Jr. Fourth was Max Papis and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five. Finishing sixth was Elliott Sadler with Marcos Ambrose finishing seventh, eighth was Justin Allgaier with Trevor Bayne coming home ninth and tenth was Jeremy Clements.
Michael McDowell and AJ Allmendinger led the field to green to begin the first ever Nationwide Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and coming into the start of the esses there was already an issue. Nelson Piquet Jr and teammate Kyle Larson got together sending Larson into the tire barriers. The accident didn't bring out a yellow flag and the race would continue. Larson, however, had heavy damage on his #32 McDonald's Chevrolet that put him three laps down.
Michael McDowell prevailed as the leader and led until lap nine when he was passed by Allmendinger for the lead. Allmendinger would pull away from the field and from that point forward it was Allmendinger's race to lose. He led by two seconds by lap 14 and had a 4.5 second lead when the races' first caution flag flew on lap 19 for Jeffery Earnhardt who spun in the s turns. Earnhardt didn't hit anything and he would continue. He would finish 18th.
The race restarted on lap 24 with Max Papis and Austin Dillon leading the field. Both Papis and Dillon stayed out instead of coming into the pits in order to make it on two stops. Papis would pull away on the initial restart and lead while Sam Hornish Jr followed him in second, passing Dillon. Three laps later Hornish would grab the lead from Papis and AJ Allmendinger would go to the second position as Papis dropped to third.
On that same lap Regan Smith would spin in the s turns causing the races' second caution flag. Smith was turned around by Elliott Sadler, who vowed after New Hampshire that Smith would not win the championship after Smith had spun Sadler late in the race. Smith wouldn't hit anything and would continue. The race would restart on lap 30 with Hornish on the left and Allmendinger on the right. Allmendinger got Hornish and got the lead. Justin Allgaier would have trouble and spin in the sand trap causing the races' third caution. Marcos Ambrose touched the right-rear of Allgaier to send him into his spin.
The race would restart on lap 33 with Allmendinger leading the field to the green. He would pull away with Michael McDowell in second. On lap 35 Mike Bliss would spin in the grass but the race would remain green. Bliss would continue. Allmendinger meanwhile continued his assault on the field. He would lead by one second by lap 38. On that same lap Nelson Piquet Jr would spin while trying to pass Parker Kligerman causing the races' fourth caution flag. Piquet didn't hit anything and he would continue.
On lap 41 the race would restart with Allmendinger in front and Michael McDowell right behind. McDowell would lose the second position to Owen Kelly. Kelly would put pressure on Allmendinger for the lead. Allmendinger would remain in the lead and as his car got better on the long run he would pull away from Kelly. On lap 44 the races' fifth caution flag flew when Alex Kennedy spun off turn eight. The race would restart on lap 48 with Allmendinger and Kelly on the front row.
On the initial start Brian Vickers would make an unscheduled pit stop. Vickers would have a cut tire and he fell behind but would continue. On lap 51 Sam Hornish Jr shot to the second position, passing Owen Kelly. Hornish was still over a second behind Allmendinger. On lap 55 Travis Pastrana would spin and hit the wall. The race would stay green but Pastrana had major damage on his Ford and he would finish 31st.
Another round of green flag pit stops would occur on lap 57. During the cycle of pit stops Trevor Bayne would spin on lap 61 but the race would stay green as Bayne got out of the sand trap. There were only a couple cars still out on the track when Kenny Habul and Justin Allgaier got together causing the races' sixth caution flag. Habul finished 26th and Allgaier would continue. Chad Hackenbracht was leading when the caution flag flew and he would pit under the yellow flag. When the race restarted on lap 66 AJ Allmendinger was back in the lead.
Allmendinger would lead with chaos going on behind him on lap 66. First Regan Smith spun and Michael Annett turned Austin Dillon trying to avoid Smith. Ron Fellows would get collected by running into Dillon who was the points leader coming in. Fellows had significant damage on the front end and was able to continue but finished a lap down in 25th. The race would stay green. One lap later Kyle Kelley would spin in Joe Nemechek's #87 Toyota. The race would continue under green as Kelley didn't hit anything. He finished 32nd. On lap 70 Trevor Bayne found the sand trap again and would get himself out as the race stayed green. Marcos Ambrose would spin on lap 72 with help from Owen Kelly. The Ambrose incident caused him to lose several positions but he would continue.
Meanwhile, AJ Allmendinger would pull away from the field and had a two second lead. On lap 78 Ambrose would go around again after contact with Parker Kligerman. The race would stay green and Allmendinger continued his big lead on the field. Allmendinger's lead was 2.1 seconds over Michael McDowell. On lap 85 Regan Smith would again spin and get into the wall but the race would again stay green. Allmendinger loved it and he would continue to pull away. On lap 88 though, Kenny Habul would spin in the sand trap creating the races' seventh caution and creating the race's first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Several drivers decided to top off their fuel before the race went back green while most with track position stayed out and saved gas by shutting their cars off and coasting.
On the green-white-checkered restart Allmendinger got a great restart and would pull away from McDowell in second. The field would take the white flag and Nelson Piqet Jr would run out of gas before getting the white. Several drivers had trouble on the last lap which cost them spots. Owen Kelly got off in turn one and finished 23rd. Austin Dillon ran into the back of Parker Kligerman and spun off and finished 21st. Max Papis would get into Kyle Larson and he would finish in 14th after almost getting a top five after being three laps down. Meanwhile, Allmendinger took the checkered flag by over seven car lengths.
Other notable finishers included Alex Bowman in 11th, Brian Scott in 12th, Parker Kligerman 13th, Regan Smith 15th, Andrew Ranger 16th, Mike Bliss 17th, Michael Annett 22nd, and Nelson Piquet Jr in 27th out of fuel.
Sam Hornish Jr took over the NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead after Mid-Ohio. He leads by 13 points over second place points man Elliott Sadler. Tied for third in the standings are Regan Smith and Austin Dillon who are both 15 points behind. Brian Vickers is fifth in the standings 18 points behind and Justin Allgaier is sixth in the standings 47 points back. Brian Scott is seventh in the standings, eighth is Trevor Bayne with Kyle Larson in ninth and Parker Kligerman rounding out the top ten.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series moves to the Bristol Motor Speedway to run the Food City 250 on Friday night August 23rd.
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