A.J. Allmendinger earned his first stage win of the season at Sonoma Raceway, but just a few laps later, his day was over.
The California native entered Sonoma hoping to score his second Cup win and qualify for the playoffs, but after winning Stage 1, his day ended on Lap 33.
Allmendinger restarted mid-pack after pit stops and was making his way through the field when he missed a shift that proved to be terminal for the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet.
Allmendinger took absolute blame for the error, heartbroken after his early exit from the race.
“(It was all on) me,” said Allmendinger. “I haven’t missed a shift on a road course in 10 years. It was just me. I was trying to be so patient and so smooth. It was unexpected. It’s on me. I let everybody down here."
The rare mistake was costly for Allmendinger, who had a legitimate chance at the race win, but instead had to settle for 38th -- last place.
“I just missed a shift,” Allmendinger continued, again saying, “I haven’t missed a shift in probably 10 years on a road course. The best gear boxes 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.”
Allmendinger scored his lone Cup win at Watkins Glen in 2014 and has scored three of his ten career top-five finishes at road courses. Although he may not have had the best car, he was fast enough to be a threat.
“The car was pretty good,” he said. “I don’t know if it was race winning car. 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.
“Everybody at Kroger Clicklist and all the hard work that they have done ... I just pretty much let everybody down.”
Allmendinger leaves Sonoma 23rd in the point standings as he continues to try and qualify for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.