Roger Penske may have relieved A.J. Allmendinger of driving duties in the No. 22 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car last year after Allmendinger was suspended by NASCAR, but the car owner didn’t give up on the driver. Allmendinger repaid his car owner’s support with a win in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 Nationwide Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Saturday.
“It’s understated what Roger Penske’s done for me,” Allmendinger said. He also proclaimed love for Penske in victory lane.
Allmendinger started from the pole and led 29 laps of the race that was scheduled to go 50 laps but was prolonged by two green-white-checkers. The extra laps left fuel mileage in question for many, but none of the front runners ran out of fuel in the closing laps.
After leading the first six laps of the race before contact from Billy Johnson sent him off track and out of the lead, Allmendinger later had trouble on pit road, stalling his car during a lap 14 stop. But he worked his way back toward the front and even retaliated while Johnson was leading the race.
On lap 37, while Johnson was leading, Allmendinger moved him out of the way, but it wasn’t Allmendinger to took the lead, it was Justin Allgaier. Allgaier led a few laps before Allmendinger retook the top spot six laps later.
Allmendinger was able to then hold off the competition and maintain his lead through three late-race restarts.
“The car was so fast,” Allmendinger said. “I just knew I had to get clear.”
Allgaier, meanwhile, had to settle for second. Parker Kligerman finished third, Owen Kelly was fourth and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top-five.
Allmendinger wasn’t the only driver Johnson made contact with during the race. Contact made with Max Papis resulted in a slap in the head from Papis after the race. Johnson was still wearing his helmet.
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.”
Below, is the complete unofficial finishing order:
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR