After a big penalty at the beginning of the season, AJ Allmendinger knows that he realistically needs to get his No. 47 Chevrolet victory lane in order to be playoff bound for the second time of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. Currently, the JTG-Daugherty Racing driver sits 26th in the Cup points standings, some 202 points out of the final playoff spot.
That’s a ton of ground he would need to make up over the next 10 races if he doesn’t win on Sunday at Sonoma. With that being said, Allmendinger knows he’s the ultimate road course ringer now, and he has two shots a year to get to victory lane and stamp his name into the playoffs. He did so at Watkins Glen in 2014, the site of his first and only career Cup victory.
But, he’d like to take the pressure off of himself heading there in August and get a victory before hand instead. Maybe this is his year at Sonoma to do so.
Allmendinger, a California native, would love to win at a track in his homestate. Every year, he’s listed as the favorite to win at Sonoma, a northern California road course. He’s started on the front row at Sonoma in each of the past three seasons, taking the pole in 2015. Unfortunately, the finishes haven’t come his way there. He’s never finished in the top five, with just two total top 10’s at Sonoma to his credit. He has an average finishing position of 20.88 there.
But, we all know he likely will start up front again, can this be the year he keeps it there?
With what’s at stake, I do think he will contend on Sunday. If he can win, he would become the 11th different winner in 15 races this season.
How about that?
So far, it’s looking like he can too. He was seventh and fourth respectively in practice on Friday and then qualified his No. 47 Chevrolet fifth for Sunday’s race. He’s got the speed in it to win that’s for sure.