BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — AJ Allmendinger took the lead with four laps left in regulation and held on through three overtimes Saturday to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Michigan International Speedway.
Six days after winning the Cup Series’ Brickyard 200 at Indianapolis, Allmendinger beat Brandon Jones to the finish line by 0.163 seconds in, at 139 laps, the longest Xfinity contest ever on the two-mile track.
Allmendinger has won three Xfinity victories this season and eight overall.
He put the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in front by going to the high side of leader Josh Berry and side-drafting his way past, with Jones following him into second.
Allmendinger just had to survive three more restarts, getting help from Jones who was running right behind Allmendinger on the outside line all three times.
Noah Gragson finished third, and Berry was fourth.
For much of the day it appeared Berry was headed toward a dream finish — in the same week he took a full-time ride with JR Motorsports and just one day after finishing 15th in the Truck Series race in suburban St. Louis. This time, as the replacement for Michael Annett in the No. 1 Chevrolet, he charged through the field from the 40th and final spot on the starting grid to take the lead on Lap 88.
The 30-year-old Tennessean just couldn’t quite hold it.
Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s career rushing leader, is joining the Xfinity Series as a part owner of Jesse Iwuji Motorsports.
Iwuji is fielding his own team as an owner-driver and now he has Smith on board. Smith joins a growing list of former sports personalities to get involved. The list includes names such as former NFL coach Joe Gibbs and former NBA stars Michael Jordan and Brad Daugherty.
“It was mainly because of my relationship with Jesse,” Smith said during the television broadcast. “I do follow what Jordan and other guys do. But usually when I get into something it’s because of a relationship. All people are looking for is an opportunity.”
Iwuji is from near Dallas and serves as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve who has been racing part-time in the series since 2018.
He’s one of two Black drivers regularly competing in a national series. Bubba Wallace competes in the Cup Series. And Iwuji is hoping Smith’s involvement will help bring diversify the sport and attract more sponsorship.
Friday night at Daytona.