Roger Penske's second chance for A.J. Allmendinger paid off today with a win at Road America.
A.J. Allmendinger was able to get the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford out front on two green-white-checker restarts to claim the win in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Saturday. It was Allmendingers first win in NASCAR.
“It’s understated what Roger Penske’s done for me,” Allmendinger said, thanking his car owner.
Justin Allgaier finished second in the No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet, and The No. 77 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota of Parker Kligerman was third.
“When you come here and run second, it’s frustrating,” Allgaier said. “I could see A.J. there."
Allmendinger started on the pole and led the way until a bobble on lap seven allowed the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Billy Johnson to take the lead. Allmendinger then lost more positions when he stalled his car on pit road on lap 14.
The No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Owen Kelly moved into the lead on lap 19 when Kligerman got off course. Allmendinger then moved into second. Halfway through the race, Allmendinger got by Kelly to retake the lead. A few laps later, Kelly fell off the pace when he ran out of fuel.
Allmendinger lost the lead to Johnson when Johnson made contact and nudged the No. 22 off the track on a restart following a caution that came out with 13 laps to go in the regularly scheduled 50-lap distance. Allmendinger retaliated with eight laps to go, allowing Allgaier to take the lead while Allmendinger moved into second. With seven laps to go, Allmendinger got back into the lead to stay.
The yellow flag waved three more times before the end of the race, with the final two of those cautions resulting in green-white-checker attempts. Most of the front runners were already in fuel conservation mode to make the distance. Several teams thought their cars were good for one green-white-checker, but a second was iffy. With the high number of caution laps late in the race, everyone was able to make it to the checkered flag.
“The car was so fast,” Allmendinger said. “I just knew all I had to do was get clear.”
Kelly finished the race in the fourth position, and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top-five in the No. 12 Penske Racing Ford. While Allmendinger celebrated in victory lane, Max Papis was expressing his frustration with Johnson. Papis and Johnson were involved in an incident during the race for which Johnson accepted responsibility.
“As far as the incident on the track, it was my fault,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, that’s just racing and he took it too personally.”
After climbing out of his No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, Papis walked up to Johnson and slapped him in the head while Johnson was still wearing his helmet.
“First of all, I apologize to all of the kids,” Papis said of his actions. “I shouldn’t have slapped him out here (on pit road). I should have slapped him in there (the garage).”
Papis also went on to say that sometimes a fist speaks better than the mouth.