NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 13 A.J. Allmendinger

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A.J. Allmendinger

Season finish: 13th

2014 Season Stats: 1 Win, 2 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s, 0 Poles.

What went right: Allmendinger officially completed his career comeback by taking the first Sprint Cup victory for both himself and JTG Daugherty Racing at Watkins Glen. Just as important is that the 47 team’s efforts got sponsor Kimberly-Clark (owners of brands like Kleenex, Scott Towels, and Huggies) to extend their backing through 2017. That’s always important for any race team but massively so for JTG-D, which was the lone single-car outfit in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

What went wrong: The Watkins Glen victory may have put them into the post-season, but consistency was hard to come by for ‘Dinger and Co. in 2014. After back-to-back Top-10s at Richmond (sixth) and Talladega (fifth) in the spring, the results went south in the 11 races leading up to the Glen; their best finish in that 11-race span were 18ths at both New Hampshire and Indy. Mid-pack results in the first two Chase races still gave him a chance to advance going into the Challenger Round finale at Dover, but they never got the handle on the Monster Mile and finished 23rd – causing ‘Dinger to miss the Contender Round by two points.

2015 Prospectus: With momentum on their side thanks to a Chase berth in 2014, Allmendinger and JTG-D now must focus on becoming more consistently competitive. That’s a tough order for a one-car team fighting weekly against multi-car operations with more resources. Nonetheless, thanks to the guy behind the wheel, they’ll likely continue to have a chance at cracking the post-season on the road courses.