ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) — AJ Allmendinger slid past Justin Allgaier with seven laps to go, then defended his lead through a late restart and a pair of nerve-testing green-white-checkered overtime finishes to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America.
For Allmendinger, it was another step toward rebuilding his racing career after sitting out part of last season because of a violation of NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy. It also was a return to victory lane at Road America for Allmendinger, who won at the four-mile road course in Central Wisconsin in the Champ Car Series in 2006.
Allgaier finished second, followed by Parker Kligerman, Owen Kelly and Sam Hornish Jr.
Billy Johnson led on a restart with eight to go, but he slid wide in Turn 5 and was passed by Allgaier and Allmendinger. Allmendinger then made the decisive move one lap later, snatching the lead from Allgaier at the top of the hill in Turn 6.
He’d have to defend his lead on three more restarts, fending off a charge from Allgaier with three laps to go and then facing two green-white-checkered finishes -- NASCAR’s version of overtime.
Allmendinger once again took the lead, only to watch another caution come out for Michael Annett’s accident to trigger a second overtime.
With drivers facing concerns about having enough fuel left on the second green-white-checkered restart, Allmendinger held on again to take the checkered flag and stop in Turn 5 to celebrate in front of the fans.
Allmendinger started from pole position and led early, but made a mistake on lap seven and briefly slipped off the track. He regained control and got back on track but lost two places in the process, going from first to third.
That gave the lead to Johnson, a California native with a background in sports car racing. But Johnson was penalized for entering pit road too fast on lap 14, sending him to the back of the field.