PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Road racing ace AJ Allmendinger survived the wet and wild start of the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Portland International Raceway with a win on Saturday.
Allmendinger took his record eighth Xfinity victory on a road course and his 12th victory overall. He crossed the finish line in the Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 2.879 seconds ahead of Myatt Snider.
The 75-lap race on the 12-turn, 1.97-mile permanent road course north of downtown began in heavy rain, which resulted in slippery conditions. It was the first NASCAR event in the region in 22 years and a rare stand-alone event for the second-tier National Series.
There were nine warning flags and eight lead changes in the race that at times felt like a downgrade derby with multiple spinouts, bumps and wrecks.
Snider led his Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet into the third and final stage of the race as a wet break dried out the course somewhat and the drivers changed their wet tires.
Allmendinger briefly took the lead with 13 laps to go after coming out of a warning – but the rain started to fall again and he pitted to switch to rain tires for the remainder of the race. Jade Buford went to the front.
Coming off the ninth caution with four laps to go, Snider was leading but Allmendinger was close behind and quickly moved inside, making light contact with Snider. Austin Hill finished third.
Allmendinger was scheduled to leave Portland shortly after the race to travel to the Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway outside of St. Louis.
Allmendinger was the peloton favourite, but got off to a rocky start as one of seven riders sent back due to unapproved adjustments, then had to stop after the first lap after coming into the grass at the fourth turn.
Sam Mayer was knocked out of the race early, showing caution on laps 14-16. Ty Gibbs, who has two road victories among his seven overall victories, won the first stage. The 19-year-old driver was second last weekend in Charlotte.
The rain stopped at the start of the second and Riley Herbst appeared to get banged up and run off the track. Darren Dilley’s car was badly damaged afterwards. Herbst’s day was also over.
Gibbs had extended his lead to nine seconds when he was rammed by Jesse Iwuji, prompting a caution eight laps from the end of stage two. Iwuji was penalized two laps.
Sheldon Creed briefly took the lead before the break but ran off the track with Gibbs at turn 12, and Andy Lally moved forward. Snider took stage two, his first-ever stage win on the circuit.
Creed was knocked out of the race on the final stage after a multi-car accident at the first corner. After getting out of his car, he returned to the track to confront Jade Buford with a lewd gesture.
“The way my year has gone, every time we have speed, something is wrong,” Creed said.
Allmendinger, the Xfinity Series points leader, finished 19th last weekend in Charlotte after a tire problem in the second half of the race. Josh Berry took the win for JR Motorsports.
The last NASCAR-affiliated race in the area was the Truck Series, which visited PIR and Evergreen Speedway in Washington in 2000. NASCAR has long watched racing in this part of the country, but until this year it did not was able to get his national series. The Portland timetable.
Anthony Alfredo took his first series pole with a lap of 93.229 mph on Friday night.
Drivers moved to the back at the start included Allmendinger, Berry, Greg Gaulding, Snider, Darrel Dilley, Rayn Sieg and Mason Filippi. Noah Gragson raced in an emergency car.