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A.J. Allmendinger wins his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup for the Cheez-It 355

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A. J. Allmendinger, driving the #47 Scott Products Chevrolet, wins the 29th Annual Cheez-It 355 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International Sunday, August 10, 2014. With a margin of victory over second place Marcos Ambrose by 1.160 seconds. Allmendinger led the most laps of the 90 lap schedule race with 30 laps.

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A.J. Allmendinger wins his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International as cars are wrecking behind him coming to the checkered flag. A.J. Allmendinger has 1 victory in 213 NASCAR Sprint Cup Starts. This is his fourth top-10 finish for the 2014 season. Allmendinger scores the first win for his single car JTG Daugherty Racing team.

Just two seasons after being suspended from NASCAR for violating the substance abuse policy, Allmendinger’s career was on hold, missing 15 races, returning for 2013 part-time for Penske Racing in Nationwide and Indy-Car where he impressed JTG Daugherty Racing to offer the driver a second chance. With this victory Allmendinger will gain a place in the Chase, providing he remains in the top-30 in the points.

While doing burn-outs, A.J. Allmendinger shouted over the radio, “I love you guys!”

During the final restart with 2 laps to go, it was a race to the finish, with Marcos Ambrose the road racer from down under bumping and banging for the win. Allmendinger took off on the final restart, in what Ambrose’s crew chief Drew Blickensderfer is planning to argue with NASCAR, claiming Allmendinger took off before the line.

“I just knew the restart-if he (Ambrose) could get to me he’d move me out of the way just like I’d do to him,” Allmendinger said in victory lane. “It wasn’t rough. He didn’t try to wreck me, he just moved me so I just leaned on him into the next corner. I know if I could get a gap and get (Ambrose and Kurt Busch, who was in third) racing behind me it was game over, so that’s what I did.”

The Cheez-It 355 was under 3 separate red flag conditions the first for the #26 Car of Cole Whitt with a rear brake issue second for 1 hour 27 minutes for an earlier incident that seen Ryan Newman and Michael McDowell go for a wild ride on the track, leaving a 32 Lap sprint to the finish, and the third with 4 Laps to go for Denny Hamlin’s crashed into the safer barrier at the entrance of the pit lane wall.

Watkins Glen gave problems to several drivers with Kyle Busch having taken the gas can out of his pit stall, while fighting to get back on the lead lap, an on track incident with Martin Truex Jr. ended Kyle Busch’s day struggling finishing 40th, 21 laps down.

Kevin Harvick having a pair of ‘bean bag’ ballast weights that were used during pre-race tech inspection had been left in the car and then got loose on the floorboard, rebounded from the incident and finished in 7th.

Jeff Gordon was running second when the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet slowed on the course heading into Turn 6. Gordon was not able to turn into the pits as it crawled to a stop on the front stretch of Watkins Glen International. An apparent power failure for the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet that would put Gordon the pole sitter, and having led the first 29 laps, 4 laps down for the remainder of the race finishing in 34th, as a result Gordon lost the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead to teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Among the drivers with problems was also Brad Keselowski, who went to the garage prior to the restart on Lap 55. Keselowski had received damage on the front-end of his car earlier in the race with an on-track run-in with Matt Kenseth, but it was issues with the brakes on the #2 Miller Lite Ford that would ultimately cause him to leave the track for a time finishing 35th, 5 laps down.

The following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be at Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400, Sunday, August 17, with coverage on ESPN beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Qualifying for the event will be Friday, August 15, at 4:30 p.m. ET with coverage on FoxSports1.

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