JTG Daugherty Racing reverses early misfortune with strong day at Martinsville

Matthew T. Thacker/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – They may not have brought home a grandfather clock, but for JTG Daughterty Racing’s AJ Allmendinger and Chris Buescher, NASCAR’s spring trip to Martinsville Speedway came just in time.

Allmendinger and Buescher both rallied from poor starting positions to salvage twin strong runs in Sunday’s STP 500.

The results came on varying strategies for the duo. Allmendinger pitted from the back half of the top 10 under the race’s final yellow and used his fresh tires to drive through the field to sixth. Buescher stayed out under the yellow and held onto his track position to salvage an 11th-place run after falling a lap down in the race’s early stages.

Regardless of the strategy used to get there, the runs served as a welcome reprieve for both drivers after a March sleight that saw no top 10s and a best finish of 17th for Allmendinger at Auto Club Speedway.

For Allmendinger, a sixth-place run helped recoup the 35 points his No. 47 team lost with an encumbered finish earlier this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway. After the race, he credited his team’s efforts through

“We worked hard on the West Coast swing,” Allmendinger said. ” We learned a lot.  Finishes didn’t show it, but felt like we learned a lot aero wise for those bigger race tracks and just coming to here it’s just about having a good car.  This car was frigging hooked up.  Once we got it right, long runs, it was just an awesome race car.  I can’t thank everybody at Kroger, Clicklist, and all of our associates, everybody at the shop.  Randall Burnett (crew chief) having him back after the suspension, just, God I wish we would have stayed green for about 120 laps because I think I could have ate these guys alive.  All-in-all a solid day.”

In Buescher’s case, the result offered the first signs of life his No. 37 team has shown since JTG Daugherty Racing announced their second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team over the offseason, overcoming early struggles to manage a solid day.

“Qualifying getting rained out was really a bummer,” Buescher said. “We lost a lap there early and Trent (Owens, crew chief) and those guys made a really good call to stay out when a lot of the leaders pitted.  Got our track position back and were able to get the lucky dog once or twice there to just kind of keep working on it.  We made some really good progress with our Bush’s Baked Beans Chevrolet.  We got it running so much better and really just one or two little adjustments that we kept doing were bringing it to life.  It is good notes to bring for the next race here at Martinsville.”

The duo still have a mountain to climb – they rose only to 26th and 27th in the standings, respectively – but their Martinsville success showed a spark, proof that the team can contend when circumstances are right.

They’ll get a chance to keep their momentum going when NASCAR returns at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9.

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