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AJ Allmendinger maintains strong start to 2021 with P5 at Atlanta

AJ Allmendinger has emerged as a contender for the 2021 Xfinity Series title. Photo: Sean Gardner / Getty Images
AJ Allmendinger has emerged as a contender for the 2021 Xfinity Series title. Photo: Sean Gardner / Getty Images
Modified 21 Mar 2021

AJ Allmendinger is emerging as an Xfinity Series title contender in 2021

AJ Allmendinger has had a journeyman-like career in NASCAR, never quite settling down in one spot. In fact, between starting out in the Cup Series and eventually being demoted to the Xfinity Series, the open-wheel transplant has endured his share of ups and downs, including being put on the sidelines on more than one occasion.

However, his perseverance has paid off and 2021 has seen him get off to his most promising start yet, as he picked up his first win on an oval in Las Vegas earlier in March and bagged four top 5 finishes from six starts, the latest of them coming in Saturday's Echo Park 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Allmendinger started the race from third position but dropped all the way down to 12th by the end of the first stage. Things didn't go much better for the 39-year-old in Stage 2, as he was involved in a multi-car accident on lap 41, forcing him to fall all the way back to 40th after effecting repairs on pit road.

Despite these setbacks, Allmendinger masterfully clawed his way back up to fifth place, which sees him sitting pretty in fourth place in the points standings, and his Las Vegas win all but assures him of a spot in the playoffs.

Not only is that a huge improvement on his numbers from last year, but his comeback drive at Atlanta also proves that he is now a legitimate contender at the mile-and-a-half tracks, which make up a bulk of t schedule.

While there were some who felt his Vegas win was a fluke, his strong comeback at Atlanta - one of the toughest 1.5-mile ovals on the circuit due to its rough surface - makes a strong case for him being one of the men to beat for the Xfinity Series title this year.

The race at Atlanta saw former Xfinity Series champion Justin Allgaier pick up his first win of the season after a late-race speeding penalty sent Martin Truex Jr. to the back of the pack. Truex still fought back to finish second, ahead of Harrison Burton in third. Noah Gragson finished fourth and Allmendinger rounded out the top 5.

Published 21 Mar 2021, 11:42 IST
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