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Allmendinger runs away off second OT restart to win Nashville Xfinity race

A.J. Allmendinger A.J. Allmendinger - Getty Images

LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) — A.J. Allmendinger pulled away on the second overtime restart Saturday to win his second NASCAR Xfinity race this year and 17th of his career at the Nashville Superspeedway in the Tennessee Lottery 250.

“I spent a lot of years not winning anything, so I need wins just to make me mentally OK every week," Allmendinger said. "And whether it’s Cup or Xfinity, this is why you go out here, do this is, to try to win races. ... So I don’t take anything for granted.”

The 41-year-old Allmendinger pitted on lap 145 and used fresher tires to pass Parker Kligerman, taking the lead for good on lap 177. He seemed poised to cruise to his latest victory for Kaulig Racing in his No. 10 Bailey Zimmerman-Religiously Chevrolet until Chad Chastain spun off Turn 4 with five laps left.

That set up the first overtime. Chandler Smith spun out on the first restart attempt after contact with Josh Berry in Turn 2.

On the second restart, Allmendinger left everyone behind and cruised to the victory. As both he and his team celebrated, more cars started spinning and crashing in a haze of smoke. Allmendinger also finished second at the Xfinity Series' inaugural race at Sonoma before NASCAR's lone break of the season.

Allmendinger said he knew he just needed to get into Turn 1 clean with a chance to keep Hill off his bumper.

“Obviously, once I did that and I came off 2, as long as like we stay green, I knew they didn’t have a shot to run me down and we were going to be OK,” Allmendinger said.

Riley Herbst finished second, with Sam Mayer third, Austin Hill fourth and Josh Berry rounding out the top five in a race with 11 different leaders and 17 lead changes. John Hunter Nemecheck, who came in leading the series in points, was sixth.

With the temperature in the low 90s, drivers dealt with even hotter conditions inside the cars. The heat also left the 1.33-mile concrete oval slick, leading to 11 cautions overall, with 15 drivers involved in crashes through the first two stages.

The race got off to a crunching and chaotic start as drivers went three wide on the opening lap. Justin Allgaier, the defending champ, pitted three times in the opening laps trying to fix the left fender of his Chevrolet. He finished 15th and wound up treated at the care center.

Allmendinger said he was shocked on the initial start at how slick the track was.

“I went down and made it three-wide and thought nothing of it, like didn’t even drive in the corner that hard and I started wrecking,” he said. "Like it was really slick. And so that kind of raised my eyebrows, like, 'OK, like, wow. This is a lot slicker than I expected.”

Some thought Allmendinger benefitted from damage to his car

Ty Gibbs won Stage 1 only to be taken out on the restart. He spun around and backed into Carson Hocevar's Chevrolet, taking them both out on the 53rd lap. Both drivers went to the care center and were later released.

On the 68th lap, another crash left Sammy Smith's No. 18 Toyota needing to be towed off the track.

Smith, who led a race-high 44 laps, took Stage 2 as one of seven different leaders through the first 90 laps. That set up a final run to a finish that needed extra laps on a sizzling day where 16 drivers finished all 196 laps.


The Xfinity Series visits Chicago and the road course on July 1.


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