Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger scored the first playoff upset of the season – taking his No. 16 Celsius Camaro ZL1 to the victory in the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.
·A four time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Allmendinger has now recorded 14 career road course victories at the NASCAR national level, with three coming in NASCAR’s premier series.
·Allmendinger delivered Chevrolet its series-leading fourth NASCAR Cup Series victory in the series’ sixth appearance at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.
·Chevrolet continues to lead the series with 16 NASCAR Cup Series victories this season, and 849 all-time victories in NASCAR’s premier series.
·Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson advanced to the NASCAR Cup Series Round of Eight. With the playoff standings reset, Byron maintains the top position of the standings, with Larson in the fourth position, heading into the next round.
You’ve won some big races in your life; why was this one so emotional?
“Because you don’t know when you’re going to do it again. I love all the men and women at Kaulig Racing so much. First of all, hi to my beautiful wife and my new baby boy. I usually give these checkered flags away but I’m going to have to wrap this around Aero. My mom and dad, all my family and friends – those people see how much anguish and how much I put it on my shoulders when we’re struggling. It just means the world.
I hate crying right now, but it’s a freaking Cup race, man. You don’t know when it’s ever going to happen again. Let’s go!”
Does all the anguish make these moments worth it?
“And more. This is why you do it. This is the only reason you do it. You fight. All the blood, sweat, tears, everybody at Kaulig Racing has just been such – I wouldn’t say a down year, but an up-and-down year. It’s our second year in the Cup Series.
I can’t thank Celsius enough for coming on board. All of our partners – Nutrient Ag Solutions, Action Industries, Leaf Filter, Chevy, and ECR for everything that they do for us. Matt Kaulig, Chris Rice, Sparco and Arai Helmets, and Corby Concepts – everybody that allows me to do this. Especially Matt and Chris, I freaking love you guys so much.”
TOP TEAM CHEVY UNOFFICIAL TOP-10 RESULTS:
1st AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Celsius Camaro ZL1
2nd William Byron, No. 24 HP Camaro ZL1
3rd Kyle Busch, No. 8 Lenovo Camaro ZL1
8th Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1
9th Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1
10th Ross Chastain, No. 1 Worldwide Express Camaro ZL1
The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of Eight will get underway at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the South Point 400 on Sunday, October 15, at 2:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage can be found on the NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
TEAM CHEVY POST-RACE QUOTES:
Ross Chastain, No. 1 Worldwide Express Camaro ZL1
How do you come to terms with this playoff run and the fact that it’s ending here today?
“We knew coming in that it was going to be tough. We put together a heck of a day for us on road courses this year in this No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevy. Lately, we’ve just been lacking speed and I can’t get over the curbs. There’s a lot of reasons. We’ve reverted on some of that through Watkins Glen (International) and to here (Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course) and it’s really paid off. I’m excited with the gains we’ve made. We came out of the box super strong in 2022 – won the first road course race in the Next Gen car. And then it just slowly kind of stepped back all the way until mid-season this year.
I can’t wait to get to work in the morning, to Las Vegas (Motor Speedway) and every race after that.”
Austin Dillon, No. 3 Huk Performance Fishing Camaro ZL1
“I’m proud of everyone on the No. 3 Huk Chevrolet team for their effort today. We finished the race, what is more than we could say about the previous two weeks. Our Chevy was too tight on the right-hand turns all day, but by making adjustments on pit road throughout the day we got better at the end. It was a good recovery by our team. We got turned around mid-race and when the No. 4 car barreled into the No. 7 car who got into us. Overall, proud of the effort of this team.”
“It was a stressful weekend, but the No. 5 team and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports did a great job working hard on this backup car late last night. I felt like our car was really good today. We were just pretty conservative there at times. I just didn’t want to make a mistake like I did last year and take ourselves completely out of it. It was just stressful there the final stage, but we were able to get in, which was the goal.”
Did you know that if Kyle (Busch) won, it was going to be a dog fight, and was the team keeping you updated of the points during the race?
“Yeah, I had my eyes on the No. 8 (Kyle Busch), for sure. I was nervous on the restarts. I just assumed that the No. 54 (Ty Gibbs) and the No. 16 (AJ Allmendinger) would crash or something, and then he’d get in the lead and throw a wrench in everything. It worked out and I’m just happy to get through this round. I didn’t execute nearly good enough. We’re going to some great tracks for us in this next round and hopefully we’ll make it to Phoenix.”
Kyle Busch, No. 8 Lenovo Camaro ZL1
What more did you need, especially in that final run?
“Just more overall grip. Those last couple of restarts, we were just fighting with traction up off the corners and with front-turn to be able to turn into the corners. We gave it a valiant effort. That was about what we thought we would get out of here, at least what I thought. We wanted to come in here and win. This team is capable of running and they gave me a great car today. The Lenovo Camaro was fast. We had good speed in it, just wasn’t able to hold on with the tires as long as I wanted to. We’ll take that. It rides on my shoulders anyway with the previous two weeks – not getting anything out of Texas (Motor Speedway) and not getting a whole lot out of Talladega (Superspeedway). Just bad circumstances, but we’ll fight on another day.”
William Byron, No. 24 HP Camaro ZL1
There were points where you looked like you were gaining on AJ Allmendinger. What more did you need?
“Yeah, just one final run to get within a car-length there. The air buffer is kind of tough there with three to four car lengths. But once you get within one, you can kind of manipulate his car a little bit, so I was hoping for that. It’s been a great year for the No. 24 HP Chevy team and we’ve been great on all the road courses. I had that one shot with probably eight laps to go. AJ (Allmendinger) just did a good job blocking the chicane there. He didn’t miss his marks and it was too early to make a dive bomb to him.
Just proud of the whole team. The Z by HP Camaro was awesome. We definitely improved a lot as the race went on. It was good to have Z by HP on the car – a new partner for us, so that was really fun. Just good momentum. We’ve got to keep it rolling. I’d like to finish one-two-two in the next round, too. That would be ideal, but we just have to keep performing like this and we’ll be where we want to be.”
Mike Rockenfeller, No. 42 Sunseeker Resorts Camaro ZL1
“Well that was definitely not the result that we wanted, but thanks to the team for the hard work. We didn’t have the pace, but then also we got caught up in the incident here in the last chicane. That definitely ended our race hopes, but yeah, it was a great experience to be back at the ROVAL. Everybody on our No. 42 team fought well, especially on pit lane. The boys kept us on the lead lap and that was pretty much all we could do. Thank you a lot to Jimmie Johnson and Maury Gallagher for giving me the call, and I wish Carson (Hocevar) and the Sunseeker Resort team well in the rest of the races this year.”
Erik Jones, No. 43 Allegiant Camaro ZL1
Sidelined by damage sustained in an accident in the final stage.
“We’ve kind of struggled all year on road courses. We haven’t really had a good day on one this season, so I need to get better on my end – figure out what to do and how to race on them. With this car, I’ve never really had a great day on road courses, so it’s frustrating. The car is just different to drive on road courses, so just have to get better. Hopefully for next year, we can figure out what to do, get some more simulator time and dial it in.”
TEAM CHEVY RACE NOTES:
·Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez posted the third-fastest lap in Saturday’s qualifying session to lead Chevrolet to the green-flag in the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.
·After being forced to a backup car after an accident in Saturday’s practice session, Kyle Larson gained 15-positions in the opening 20 laps. Larson reported that his No. 5 Camaro ZL1 was tight in turns three-four and five-six as the field approached the first round of green-flag pit stops. Sitting in the 21st position, crew chief Cliff Daniels called Larson to pit road for four tires and fuel with five laps remaining in Stage One.
·Entering the elimination race below the playoff cutline, crew chief Phil Surgen elected a pit strategy for track position in the opening stage. With much of the field coming to pit road for scheduled green-flag stops, Ross Chastain cycled up to the third position to collected eight points in Stage One.
·Chastain led Chevrolet to five top-10 finishes in Stage One:
3rd Ross Chastain, No. 1 Worldwide Express Camaro ZL1
6th Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Aguas Frescas Camaro ZL1
7th Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1
8th Kyle Busch, No. 8 Lenovo Camaro ZL1
10th AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Celsius Camaro ZL1
·Pitting prior to the end of Stage One, Daniel Suarez cycled back to the top of the leaderboard as the leaders came to pit road – ultimately taking a spot on the front-row to lead the field to the start of Stage Two.
·Restarting from the third position, Chase Elliott quickly took over the top position in the opening laps of the stage. Leading 15 circuits in the stage, Elliott hit a milestone feat in his NASCAR Cup Series career – scoring 5,000 laps led in NASCAR’s top series.
·Elliott continued to pace the field as another round of green-flag pit stops got underway in the closing laps of the stage. Crew chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott to pit road when a caution came out. Narrowly missing the commitment line, Elliott maintained his track position as the race leader, ultimately going on to take the Stage Two win.
·Team Chevy Stage Two: Top-10
1st Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1
6th Ross Chastain, No. 1 Worldwide Express Camaro ZL1
10th Kyle Busch, No. 8 Lenovo Camaro ZL1
FINAL STAGE / POST-RACE NOTES:
·Finding his way to pit road during the stage break, crew chief Gustafson called for a four-tire and fuel stop on the No. 9 Camaro ZL1 with Elliott taking the green-flag for the final stage from the 26th position.
·Pitting prior to stage end, strategy from atop the pit box put Kyle Busch and the No. 8 Camaro ZL1 team on the front-row for the start of the final stage. Taking the green-flag with 56 laps to go, Busch took the lead entering turn one – going on to lead six laps before a battle for the lead ensued with fellow Chevrolet driver AJ Allmendinger.
·The four-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course winner made a pass for the lead – quickly pulling his No. 16 Camaro ZL1 to a 2.4 second lead with 45 laps remaining. Continuing under green-flag conditions, Allmendinger brought his Chevrolet to pit road for four tires and fuel – reentering the field with 38 laps to go.
·Faced with a handful of cautions, Allmendinger continued to maintain the top position during each restart battle. The restart with 10 laps to go saw Team Chevy playoff contender Kyle Busch lineup alongside Allmendinger. Making contact as the pair led the field to the green-flag, Allmendinger ultimately came away with the lead exiting turn one.
·Allmendinger was able to hold-off a hard charging William Byron and Kyle Busch to score a playoff upset – taking the checkered flag for his third career NASCAR Cup Series victory.