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As tends to happen, AJ Allmendinger had himself a weekend on a road course. In this case, it was a pair of second-place finishes to defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson. After all that hard work, Allmendinger was loathe to get caught up in the intramural controversy between the driver of the No. 5 Chevy and 2020 series champ Chase Elliott.

Allmendinger extricated himself from a delicate question with some of his trademark humor, and it was actually a perfect answer.

Kyle Larson forced Chase Elliott wide and out of the lead

Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson race during the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 06, 2022. | Meg Oliphant/Getty Images
Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson race during the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 06, 2022. | Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Every NASCAR Cup Series race has at least two restarts because of stage breaks, and you can count on more because of cautions. Those restarts can be chaotic in the closing stages of races on ovals, but they’re anarchy on road courses when they create cavalry charges toward pinch points on the track barely wide enough to accommodate two-wide racing, let alone three- and four-wide.

Sunday’s final restart at Watkins Glen saw leader Chase Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson take the green flag from the front row. Larson forced Elliott wide, took the lead, and then held on for the victory over runner-up AJ Allmendinger.

It was the second straight day the pair formed a one-two finish. On Saturday, Ty Gibbs and William Byron collided in the late going, opening the door for Larson and Allmendinger to battle it out, with Larson also prevailing.

Gibbs vs. Byron became a hot story on Saturday, and then it was Larson vs. Elliott on Sunday. The difference, of course, is that Larson and Elliott are teammates. Friendships and business arrangements go out the window on race day. That doesn’t mean there aren’t tough conversations afterward.

AJ Allmendinger knows about team dynamics

AJ Allmendinger is one of the best racers on road courses in NASCAR history. He’s a full-time driver for the Kaulig Racing Xfinity team and stands atop the points list with four regular-season races to go. He also runs roughly half the races in Kaulig’s second Cup Series car, including all the road courses.

Kaulig Racing is new to full-time Cup Series racing, but its Xfinity program has been among the best in the sport. Last season, Allmendinger, Justin Haley, and Jeb Burton all finished in the top 10. This season, Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric, and Landon Cassill are all in the top 11.

As such, Allmendinger knows about battling teammates. As such, he was approached by reporter Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, who wanted to know whether he thought Larson and Elliott needed to have a conversation.

AJ Allmendinger wasn’t taking the bait

Put in the spot to get in the middle of another team’s internal issue, AJ Allmendinger handled the question about Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott with all the skill he displays on road courses.

“I could give a crap if they have to talk about, honestly,” Allmendinger said, laughing. “I don’t have to be in a team meeting with them and I don’t have to be teammates with them. So, I don’t care if they have to talk to each other.”

Accurate and to the point. Well played, AJ Allmendinger. That’s a problem for Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon, not you.

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