By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
AJ Allmendinger is in the midst of a hot streak. The driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet overcame numerous obstacles to finish eighth at Auto Club Speedway a couple of races ago, and then this past week he was battling Kyle Busch for the win en route to a second-place finish at one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks — Martinsville Speedway. Following his best effort of the season, Allmendinger was ecstatic.
“It was a lot of fun. I passed Jimmie Johnson like five times at Martinsville. That is pretty fricking cool,” Allmendinger said. “I just can’t thank everybody on this team enough. Randall Burnett (crew chief), Ernie Cope (competition director), Brain Burns (engineer), Tony Palmer (engineer) for embracing their new roles and everybody really stepping up together, especially Tad and Jodi Geschickter (team owners) for putting all this effort into this team. I can’t thank Kroger, Butterfinger, Coffee-mate, Tad is putting so many stickers on this car it’s hard, Scott Products, Kingsford, Clorox, Bush’s Beans, Louisiana Hot Sauce, we’ve got so many sponsors it’s pretty cool to be on this race team right now.”
With his recent surge, Allmendinger, who made the Chase two seasons ago, now sits 12th in the championship standings with Texas Motor Speedway looming large this weekend.
In 14 previous visits to Texas, Allmendinger has just two top-10 finishes, and he hasn’t finished in the top 10 at the 1.5-mile speedway since 2011. However, he has finished 17th-or-better in three of the last six races at the track in the deep heart of Texas. Perhaps he can ride this great momentum into another career-best finish at a racetrack.
David Ragan also had a very good run in Martinsville this past week. Ragan made contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. early on in the race, but aside from that incident he was smooth all day long and ended the 500-lap marathon with a 21st-place effort in his BK Racing Toyota.
“I really enjoyed the 500 laps today,” Ragan said. “Our BK team improved the car all weekend and we had a strong car Sunday. We will debrief at the shop this week and work to improve our runs so that on our next trip we can contend for a top 10 finish.”
Ragan has a pole and has finished inside the top-10 two times in 18 previous starts at TMS. He also finished 13th in this event last season while subbing for the injured Kyle Busch, but in lesser equipment we shouldn’t expect that kind of a finish this weekend for Ragan. However, the BK Racing stable has looked much more strong this season, so it will be interesting to see if Ragan can get another decent finish.
Image: Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing