By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Only two multi-car teams had all of its’ cars finish inside the top-10 in the Daytona 500. JTG-Daugherty Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger and Chris Buescher was one of them with both drivers finishing inside the top-10 in the 60th running of the “Great American Race.” Both drivers had to escape incidents that wiped out many of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitors.
Buescher somehow had a quiet race at Daytona International Speedway on his way to a fifth-place finish. His No. 37 Kleenex Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was never up front or in the action until the final laps. On the final restart, Buescher was in the thick of the battle for the leading, surging forward. A close call with the wrecked Ford Fusion of Aric Almirola didn’t slow him down.
“That was awesome,” Buescher explained. “For us to even be in contention to have a shot at winning the (Daytona) 500 with our Kroger ClickList team, that was pretty awesome, with two cars really. That was pretty neat. There at the end we just had to be a little bit too defensive with our Kleenex Camaro ZL1 to really go up there and push for it. The bottom really wasn’t the place to be all night and that is where we lined back up.”
Meanwhile, Allmendinger’s 500 miles were a little rougher. As the laps wound down, contact between the Fords of Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney set off a multi-car melee. Allmendinger’s No. 47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was caught in the middle of the melee. As he tried to swerve to safety, Allmendinger contacted Jeffrey Earnhardt’s spinning Chevrolet. Luckily, the damage was not terminal, allowing him to cruise to the checkered flag.
“Today was a big positive for our racing organization,” Allmendinger said optimistically. “It’s a great day for both teams, to get a top-five and a top-10 finish at Daytona. It was a fantastic job there by Chris and the 37 Kleenex team, especially at the end to have a chance to win it. Overall, any time you come out of Daytona with two cars in the top-10 that’s a big deal for us. I feel like so many times I tried to make the right move and either nobody went with me or I got hung out, but that’s the product of this racing. That’s the way it goes. It can be frustrating sometimes. Overall, just a great day for our 47 Kroger ClickList team and especially Chris and the 37 guys for doing such a great job.”
The top-10 runs leave Allmendinger and Buescher 14th and ninth in points respectively. For Allmendinger, his 10th-place finish was his first top-10 since Watkins Glen last year. Buescher’s fifth was his first top-five since the Bristol Night Race in 2016.
This was just the third time that JTG-Daugherty Racing has have both of their drivers finish inside the top-10. The last time that JTG-Daughtery Racing had both of their drivers finish inside the top-10 was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year. Buescher and Allmendinger finished ninth and 10th that day respectively.
Now the entire JTG-Daughtery Racing team will try to ride their momentum into the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday February 25.