If it hadn’t been for the final corner of the final lap on Sunday at Watkins Glen, AJ Allmendinger would have enjoyed a proud moment, battling back from an early pit road speeding penalty for a top-five finish. But the afternoon ended on a sour note when a tap from Allmendinger’s Chevy sent Kyle Larson’s Chevy spinning into the inside barrier as the drivers were battling in Turn 7 on the last lap.
Allmendinger finished fourth, but Larson dropped to 29th, with his Chase hopes taking a serious blow. “I turned him – not on purpose,” a rueful Allmendinger said after the race. “The #78 (Martin Truex Jr.) started to spin, and Kyle and I were racing for fifth there. He defended on the inside, which he should have. And I tried to cut under him off of the last corner, and the #78 was coming back across the race track. I was under him. He turned. And I just clipped him. I’m just not very happy with myself on that. I don’t want to do that, especially for fourth place. And he did a great job. It’s on me. I never meant to do it. It’s not going to help the case. I know he’s going to be pissed off, and he should be pissed off. I’d be. I definitely cost us a chance to win this race (with the speeding penalty). I tried to give everything I had to get it back. I was going to be pretty happy with the drive back – until I did that in the last corner.”
As Allmendinger predicted, the accident didn’t sit well with Larson. “We were about a 10th-place car, and we were going to get a top-five day out of it,” Larson said. “We were running sixth coming to (Turn) 7; the #47 was behind me. He is always aggressive. I figured he would be smart. Obviously, the #78 was spinning in front of us. That is a free spot for both of us, and (he) just dumped me. He had already ran me down to the front stretch wall once with about 15 (laps) to go or so. Pretty dumb move right there, too, but I was the smarter one racing for points, lifted, could have wrecked him, but didn’t. I don’t know. I don’t know. He wrecked me earlier in the year at Vegas. He has ran me hard, but we always race pretty well, but today was flat out stupid. I love his crew chief (Randall Burnett) to death; he was our engineer last year. It just sucks they are going to have to start building some more race cars because he’s got a few coming.”
It sounds like there is some bad blood that has been brewing between The Dinger and Larson, and this latest rue only seems to quicken the boiling point! Will we see some retribution coming as NASCAR visits Bristol and Martinsville in the next few weeks?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!