Allmendinger captures elusive Nationwide win at Road America

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Despite several green-white-checkered attempts to throw him off his game, AJ Allmendinger would not be denied an elusive first victory in NASCAR. Allmendinger repaid the faith of team boss Roger Penske with a win from pole in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Elkhart Lake’s Road America.

Allmendinger held off Turner Scott Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie Parker Kligerman on the race that took two extra GWCs to finish. It ran 55 laps instead of the scheduled 50; Allmendinger led 29 laps of the 4.048-mile circuit.

Owen Kelly and Sam Hornish Jr. each had fraught days and fell back outside the top-25, yet when all was said and done ended fourth and fifth. Unofficially, Hornish clawed back 28 points of his deficit of 58 to series leader Regan Smith, who finished 33rd.

A typical Road America NASCAR edition, then, if ever there was one – methodical and fast-paced the first 35 or so laps, before all hell broke loose in the last 15-plus.

There were only three cautions in the first 33 laps and in the last 22, there were five more via a collection of spins, off-course excursions and occasional fisticuffs.

Several drivers didn’t have results to maximize their runs. Among them, Billy Johnson of Roush Fenway Racing had a storming drive from the mid-30s after a pit road speeding penalty all the way back to the lead, before two incidents sent him to the back.

Johnson fell from the lead with 10 laps to go prior to the scheduled checkered flag outside the top-20 after an accordion effect incident at Turn 5, where he slipped into the gravel and had to drive out. Earlier in the race, Johnson made contact with Max Papis, and after the race the Italian reacted by slapping Johnson with his helmet still on.

Nationwide Series debutante and defending Pirelli World Challenge GT class champion Johnny O’Connell brought the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet home in 12th.

The Nationwide Series is back on a Sprint Cup weekend next weekend in Kentucky.

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”