Day 2 of AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson and Ty Gibbs on the Roval Ought to Be a Blast

With Chase Elliott already locked in, 11 drivers will battle for their NASCAR playoff lives on Sunday at the Charlotte Roval. Meanwhile, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, and Noah Gragson just look to pick up where they left off a day earlier.

The three are full-time Xfinity Series drivers with nothing to prove in the Cup Series – yet – and no way to improve upon a one-two-three finish Saturday.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting, especially for Allmendinger.

AJ Allmendinger owns the Charlotte Roval

AJ Allmendinger celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 8, 2022, in Concord, North Carolina. | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
AJ Allmendinger celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 8, 2022, in Concord, North Carolina. | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Regular-season champion AJ Allmendinger had already clinched his berth in the Xfinity Series round of eight, but expecting him to back off on one of his best tracks was too much to ask. The NASCAR veteran, who agreed this week to drive Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 Chevy in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series, needed two overtimes to prevail in Saturday’s race.

Allmendinger has won four consecutive Xfinity races on the hybrid layout, all in the playoffs. (He placed 38th there in last season’s Cup Series race after exiting with engine trouble at the midpoint.) It’s near-record domination; ‘Dinger’ is one win from tying Dale Earnhardt (Daytona), Kyle Busch (Texas Motor Speedway), and Jack Ingram (South Boston) for consecutive victories at one track.

Allmendinger had to go two overtimes to win, outfoxing Ty Gibbs on the next-to-last restart before executing a perfect start the final time the green flag waved.

“We stole that one,” he said in a TV interview moments after the race.

All three drivers are bound for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series

Collectively, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, and Noah Gragson own 17 victories and 44 finishes in the top five. That means there will be a lot of podium finishes up for grabs in 2023 since all three are heading for full-time duty in the Cup Series.

Kaulig Racing introduced Allmendinger this week as its sole driver of the No. 16 Chevy that he shares this season with Daniel Hemric and Gragson. Allmendinger, 40, is already a veteran of Cup Series racing, and his work in two full-time seasons for Kaulig made him an easy pick to return.

For his part, Gragson is moving on in order to move up. After racing for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series and both Kaulig Racing and Beard Motorsports in the Cup Series, he’s taking over Ty Dillon’s No. 42 Chevy at Petty GMS in 2023. The Roval on Sunday is his second start for Hendrick Motorsports in place of Alex Bowman.

Officially, Ty Gibbs has not yet landed his 2023 gig. However, he has been filling in for Kurt Busch at 23XI Racing for nearly three months now and is in line to replace Kyle Busch at his grandfather’s Joe Gibbs Racing team.

Noah Gragson will start the round of eight with a cushion

Saturday’s Xfinity Series race on the Charlotte Roval cut Daniel Hemric, Ryan Sieg, Riley Herbst, and Jeremy Clements from the field. JR Motorsports advanced all four of its drivers (Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Sam Mayer, and Josh Berry), and they’ll be joined in the semifinals by AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, Brandon Jones, and Austin Hill.

The next round of three races commences next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Gragson will start with a lead following the second reset. He has 3,056 points, built largely on the strength of seven victories. Allmendinger and Gibbs, with five wins apiece, start at 3,044 and 3,028 points, respectively.

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