Pacific Office Automation 147 | NASCAR . Official Site

AJ Allmendinger Escapes Chaos to Take Rainy Xfinity Series Victory in Portland

AJ Allmendinger won an action-packed Pacific Office Automation 147, the NASCAR Xfinity Series debut, at the Portland International Raceway road course on Saturday afternoon.

Active are the keywords from green flag to checkered; in the rain, in the dry and again in the rain.

RELATED: Official Results | At-track photos

Allmendinger literally came last on the grid to take the win – after changing “everything but the engine” before the race, he claimed in the victory lane. Are No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet led just six of the race’s 75 laps, beating Myatt Snider by 2,879 seconds to give the popular veteran his second Xfinity Series win of 2022; his other win comes early this season on the road course at the Circuit of The Americas.

“It might be one of the craziest wins I’ve ever had,” said twelve-time Xfinity Series winner Allmendinger with a smile.

It would be hard to argue otherwise. The 40-year-old California Allmendinger didn’t just start at the back, he had his first of half a dozen off-track excursions before even taking the checkered flag. He went down a lap earlier but managed to stay focused and return to the lead lap in a race with nine warnings and only 21 out of 38 cars on the first lap at the finish.

“Man, I can’t believe this, I crashed before it turned green,” said Allmendinger, who also took his first Champ Car win in Portland in 2006.

“I made so many mistakes and tried so hard,” he added. “I put so much pressure on myself in these races because I know what everyone expects and I know what I expect from myself, more importantly. But what a win.”

Snider, who led for five laps in the No. 31 Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet, managed to smile himself and acknowledge that runner-up to Allmendinger on a road course isn’t such a terrible defeat.

“Just AJ’s experience,” Snider said with a smile as he explained the difference in Saturday’s win. “I could see he was setting it up” [corner] goes away better than I was. For me that was good hard racing.

“So cool to be disappointed with the second one [place] with a team that is only a year and a half old and to get my first stage win and maybe the first top three with this car,” he added.

Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Hill finished third with JR Motorsports teammates Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier rounding out the top five.

Daniel Hemric, Ty Gibbs, JJ Yeley, Noah Gragson and Alex Labbe rounded out the top 10.

As with Allmendinger, many of the top finishers had adventurous days.

The opening stages on the 1.97-mile course called for wet tires with a steady downpour at the green flag that faded as the race progressed. At the break in stage 2, most teams opted for the Goodyear slicks as the rain subsided and was replaced by heavy fog. Only to make the rain come back on the last leg – after cars switched to dry tires.

It was the kind of drama that characterized the race.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Gibbs led a race-best 42 laps in the No. 54 JGR Toyota, but was involved in several incidents on the track that competed for the lead – and at one point even driving cautiously, getting hit from behind by Jesse Iwuji, who was three laps down.

Gragson, who like Allmendinger started from the back of the field, made a race-best 22 positions at the start of Stage 2 and ran into the top five when he was pushed off course by Gibbs during a mid-race restart that proved to have implications for many of today’s top drivers.

WATCH: Gibbs, Gragson trade blows on track

Gibbs interacted with Gragson and then Sheldon Creed, causing both Gibbs and Creed’s cars to drift off course. Creed returned to the track and was involved in a multi-car accident with 20 laps to go – in which his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was damaged beyond repair.

“I thought we had a good day. I made a mistake to finish second there, but got back in the lead,” said Creed, whose wife will give birth to their first child any moment.

“As my year is over, every time we have speed something goes wrong. … Today I felt we had a good chance of winning.”

WATCH: Creed expresses displeasure after late crash

With the win, Allmendinger extended his championship lead over Gibbs to 44 points. Gragson’s ninth place puts him 45 points behind.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series is on a two-week hiatus before returning to competition in the Tennessee 250 Lottery on June 25 at Nashville Superspeedway (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App).

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