A.J. Allmendinger dominated and won the Molson Indy Toronto Toyota Atlantic Race just ahead of fellow American RuSPORT team-mate Aaron Justus after the duo started first and second on the grid. However, the race was not quite as easy and ...
A.J. Allmendinger dominated and won the Molson Indy Toronto Toyota Atlantic Race just ahead of fellow American RuSPORT team-mate Aaron Justus after the duo started first and second on the grid. However, the race was not quite as easy and straightforward for them as it could have been.
On lap one Allmendinger was passed at corner three by Scotsman Ryan Dalziel, who had qualified 4th, then soon after by 3rd qualifier Canadian Michael Valiante.
"Ryan had a lot of speed on the straightaway," confessed Allmendinger. "I really couldn't do anything about it. I let him go. I kinda got stacked behind him and Michael got by me."
Justus had fallen from his second position on the grid to 6th by the end of the first lap.
"A.J. and I had a plan for the first corner," explained Justus. "I couldn't believe how deep the other guys went into corner one."
Thus, the order at the end of the first lap was Dalziel, followed by Valiante, Allmendinger, Joey Hand, Jonathan Macri and Justus.
Allmendinger then made the first of his moves. He passed Valiante on lap 4 at corner three, and the next lap Macri also got Valiante at corner 3.
Dalziel and Allmendinger set the early pace in first and second. The only other driver doing laps in the 1 minute 6 second range was Danica Patrick. She had qualified 9th, spun on lap 2, fell to 15th, but was flying as the last runner.
Allmendinger was pushing Dalziel hard, and finally passed him on at the popular corner 3 on lap 10.
"I could break better than both Ryan and Michael into corner 3," Allmendinger noted. "I could see Ryan was struggling off of turn one. So, I just tried to get a good run with him, and was able to outbreak him into turn 3." Team-mate Justus was still stuck back in 6th.
By lap 13 Allmendinger had his lead over Dalziel up to almost 2.5 seconds. The battles then focused on 3rd position with Macri holding off Valiante, and for 5th with Hand still holding off Justus.
It took until lap 17 for Justus to pass Hand, of course at corner 3.
From there it turned somewhat stagnant and processional, with Allmendinger running away from Dalziel. On lap 23 though, that all changed. Kyle Krisiloff and Stephan Roy bumped at corner 3. Krisiloff stopped, retired and brought out a full course yellow.
The restart brought opportunities for some, and disaster for others. It came at the end of lap 26, and there was chaos and cars everywhere going into corner one. Dalziel ended up the biggest loser, dropping from his solid second position down to 5th. When it all sorted out, the order after the restart was Allmendinger followed by Macri, Valiante, Justus, Dalziel, then Hand.
On lap 28 Justus passed Valiante at the usual corner 3 to claim third place, then passed Macri on lap 34 for second. "I didn't realize, until I got around Joey (Hand), what a good care we had," enthused Justus. "Then I got really excited and just started charging through."
Once the RuSPORT duo sat first and second, the race held steady until the end. Allmendinger finished just over 2 seconds ahead of Justus, with Macri third, Valiante 4th, then Dalziel, Hand, Bryan Sellers, Alex Figge, Luis Diaz and Danica Patrick, who had charged up nicely after running last, in 10th.
Allmendinger's win gave him his 4th win of the season, and increased his lead in the championship. He sits with 125 points to Dalziel's 98. Macri gained on Dalziel, and sits third with 94, with Justus at 81 and Valiante at 76.
This year marked the first since 1998 that a Canadian did not win the Molson Indy Toronto Toyota Atlantic race.