In seventh and eighth place on Sunday were two drivers who haven’t really figured into too many NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in the past, Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger.
Vickers, continuing his comeback trail after health issues have plagued him two of the last four seasons, posted his second top-10 result of the season in seventh in the No. 55 TreatMyClot.com Aaron’s Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Like several others, this was a result that probably wasn’t as good as how well he ran over the course of the day. Vickers spent much of Sunday’s Auto Club 400 in the top three. But a couple setbacks caused the end frustration.
“The guys did an awesome job in the pits all day except for one stop,” Vickers said. “They were laying down some incredible stops. Unfortunately we had a big mistake that cost us like 20 spots on one of the stops. We battled back from that all day and then fought traffic.
“We finally got to the front and then a bunch of guys stayed out on old tires on the green-white-checkered which kind of caught us off-guard. We just ran out of time. The 40 (Landon Cassill) stayed out on old tires and we had nowhere to go. All the guys dropped down to the inside and went four wide and we were just kind of stuck. I tried to make a move and just couldn’t make anything out of it.”
Allmendinger, meanwhile, brought the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing team its best result since 2011 in eighth. He raced at Fontana in the IndyCar Series finale last October; little translated except extra track time in a completely different type of machinery.
He was another driver affected by the late-race caution caused when Vickers’ MWR teammate, Clint Bowyer, spun from second place.
Still, he climbed from 11th into eighth on the last lap with a low-line move.
— AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) March 24, 2014
Vickers ranks 13th and Allmendinger 22nd in points after the first five races of the year.