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NSCS: Allmendinger Paces Final Practice, Makes Statement at Watkins Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. —†Besides Marcos Ambrose, no other driver on the Sprint Cup Series circuit has had Watkins Glen circled as big on the calendar as A.J. Allmendinger. Considering his open-wheel racing background — and the fact that he won two races on road courses in the Nationwide Series in 2013 — the California native’s best chance of punching a ticket to NASCAR’s version of the playoffs comes this weekend at the sprawling 2.45-mile road course.

Having†the fourth-best time in Friday’s first practice session, Allmendinger backed up the result by pacing the final practice session of the weekend in advance of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. Recording a speed of 128.688 miles per hour in his No. 47 Chevrolet, the JTG Daugherty Racing driver bested the lap of road course ace Marcos Ambrose (128.682).

With all of the attention leading in to this weekend having been placed on Ambrose, Allmendinger made a statement on Friday that he and his underdog team will be a contender on Sunday if they keep the car clean and execute perfect strategy.

For Ambrose, Sunday’s race also presents his best chance to clinch a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and place both Richard Petty Motorsports cars in the postseason in what would be a cinderella story for the team. After recording the fifth-best time in the opening practice of the weekend, the Australian’s chances of doing so appear to be strong.

Rounding out the top-five in the session was defending winner Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Aric Almirola.

Next up for the Sprint Cup Series is knockout qualifying Saturday morning at 11:40am ET.

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About Kyle Brandt

Kyle Brandt is a co-owner and the Managing Editor at Rubbings Racing. He can be followed on Twitter (@kbrandtMRS) for the latest motorsports updates and information.

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