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Armed with a paint scheme commemorating his first and only NASCAR Cup Series victory and a pole position starting spot, AJ Allmendinger hopes to add another oval-track victory to his resume in Saturday‘s NASCAR Xfinity Series race — the Steakhouse Elite 200 — at Darlington Raceway (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
An acknowledged ace on road courses, Allmendinger predictably got his Cup win at Watkins Glen International in 2014 when he was driving for JTG Daugherty Racing. Last year, he picked up his first Xfinity Series oval victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway and proved that wasn‘t a fluke by winning earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Though he has 11 career Cup Series starts at 1.366-mile Darlington (without a top-10 finish), this will be Allmendinger‘s first trip around the “Lady in Black” in an Xfinity Series car.
“I‘d be lying if I said Darlington is a place I‘ve always been good at,” said Allmendinger, who drives the No. 16 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing. “It‘s a race track that is unique and unlike any other track in the world.
“It‘s a challenge, but I know we‘ll have really fast race cars there. We‘ve put a lot of work into trying to improve our program at this track. We‘ll have another shot to win $100,000 for the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash.”
In fact, Kaulig Racing features two of the four eligible drivers in the running for the Dash 4 Cash bonus at Darlington. Jeb Burton, winner of the rain-shortened race at Talladega Superspeedway, also can claim the prize by finishing higher than the other three eligible drivers. But the two Kaulig drivers will have to beat Noah Gragson, who claimed the first two $100,000 bonuses this year, and series leader Austin Cindric, the Talladega runner-up.
Brandon Jones, who went to Victory Lane in last year‘s September race, is the only former Darlington winner in the field this week.