By Scott Held
Special to NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- AJ Allmendinger spent most of Saturday afternoon in front, then held on for an extra few laps to earn his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Allmendiner had a comfortable lead over pole winner Michael McDowell but had to sweat out a green-white-checkered finish after Kenny Habul triggered a course-wide caution on the penultimate lap.
It was no problem, as Allmendinger sprinted away on a lap 93 restart and stayed in front for the final two laps.
McDowell was second and Sam Hornish Jr. assumed the series points lead after finishing third. Max Papis and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five.
Allmendinger lost the lead after a lap 58 pit stop and took it back five laps later. He kept his No. 22 Ford Mustang in front of the pack after a lap 67 restart and cruised to his second NASCAR Nationwide road-course win in as many tries this season.
Allmendinger started second and needed only eight laps to take the lead after the green flag. He led 27 straight laps midway through the race and was in front for the final 29.
Allmendinger's other victory came in at the Johnsonville Sausage 200 Presented by Menards at Road America on June 22, his only other NASCAR Nationwide start this season.
He led 73 of the race's 94 laps. McDowell led the next most, eight.
Allmendinger isn't competing for the series title but those that are saw all sorts of changes at the top.
Hornish started the race three points behind series leader Austin Dillon, but left Mid-Ohio with a 13-point lead with 11 races remaining.
Dillon, who finished 21st, dropped into a tie for third with Regan Smith, who spun out early in the day and fell out of contention.
Elliott Sadler jumped ahead of both of them to take over second in the standings. He's two points ahead of Regan and Smith. Brian Vickers remained fifth in the standings, right where he started.
The top five are separated by a total of only 18 points.
McDowell led the first eight laps from the pole but gave way to Allmendinger, who dominated large stretches of the third and final road race on the NASCAR Nationwide schedule.
Michael McDowell, in only his fifth NNS start of the season, secured his second career Coors Light pole with a fast lap of 96.256.