2017 was a tough year for AJ Allmendinger. He finished 27th in the point standings which marked his worst season since he’s been a full-time driver. Last year a good afternoon for him was a high-teens finish.
In 2018 there’s some reason for optimism in AJ Allmendinger. His team should be better prepared to be a two-car operation, and his team is upping its engineering game. This upcoming season they’ll have a technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports. That should definitely be viewed as a positive because at the places they lacked speed last year engineering was key.
In 2018 I would look for Allmendinger to have a better season and be more competitive on a weekly basis.
Strengths – AJ Allmendinger is an elite road course racer, but his equipment often fails him. If he can avoid trouble on that track type he’ll likely finish in the top ten, and perhaps challenge for a top five at all three road courses. Martinsville has also been a bright spot on the schedule for him
Weaknesses – The #47 team was really lacking speed at intermediate tracks last year. They make up the core of the schedule and his team wasn’t even close to being competitive. Flats tracks were also a notable weakness in 2017.
Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite > High > Medium-High > Medium > Low
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – Medium
Intermediate tracks aren’t bright spots on the schedule for AJ Allmendinger. “Performance Wise” at these venues you should view him as a high-teens to low-twenties driver on a weekly basis.
Last year over the 17 combined races on this track type he had zero top tens, scored the 26th most points and had a 22.4 average finish. Among teams that put in a “good faith” effort to be competitive he was essentially at the bottom of the barrel. I will note I think his teams technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports should lead to some improvement on this track type in 2018.
Flat Track Fantasy Value – Medium
AJ Allmendinger wasn’t competitive at flat tracks in 2017. It’s hard to see him being a lot better in 2018, but his teams technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports should help. Last year he scored the 28th most points and among drivers who’ll have a fantasy NASCAR driver preview written only teammate Chris Buescher scored less, that should tell you something about how his team stacks up against the competition.
Last year over the 9 combined races on this track type he only had two results in the top twenty.
Between the shorter flat tracks and the bigger flat tracks I like him a lot more at the smaller venues. In the past when his team was more competitive he could often be viewed as a dark horse driver at those venues. Last year at those venues minus the spring Richmond race he had a result between 17th to 26th every race.
Last year at the “Bigger Flat Tracks” he finished 10th at Indy where the attrition rate was sky high, and finished in the low-twenties in both Pocono races.
Short Track Fantasy Value – Medium-High
AJ Allmendinger has been a pretty solid driver at short tracks. Last year he had a tough season and scored the 30th most points, in 3 of the 4 seasons prior to that he scored between the 9th to 12th most points on this track type.
Between the three short tracks Martinsville is without a question his best. Outside of road courses it’s arguably his best track. Since 2014 minus the two races he had problems he’s had a result in the top 11 every race and had an 8.2 average finish. Last fall at Martinsville he wrecked, in spring 2017 he finished 6th.
At the other two short tracks probably not a lot of good will come from picking him. At Richmond he’s finished 20th or worse the last five straight races, and at Bristol he’s finished 19th or worse in 5 of his last 6 races.
Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – Medium-High
AJ Allmendinger like most of the drivers in the series is capable of sneaking in some of his best results at plate tracks. Last year two of his five top tens came on this track type. For the season at these venues he scored the 15th most points and had a 16.0 average finish.
In 2017 at Daytona, Allmendinger swept the top ten coming home with results of 3rd and 8th, at Talladega he had results of 22nd and 31st.
Road Course Track Fantasy Value – Elite
AJ Allmendinger is an elite talent at road courses, that said his equipment has held him back far too often. Because of his equipment he probably should be rated as a high-level talent, but I’m going to give him the benefit of doubt. Perhaps no driver is more excited than AJ Allmendinger to have a third road course added to the schedule in 2018.
This upcoming season I would look for Allmendinger to be a top five competitor at both Watkins Glen and Charlotte, at Sonoma he should be viewed as a 9th to 14th place performer.
Watkins Glen is AJ Allmendinger’s best track on the circuit. It’s the site of lone win and minus 2014 when he had a lot of problems late in the race he has a 7.5 average finish and has had a result in the top 13 every race. Last year Allmendinger finished 9th. In 6 of the last 7 races there he’s finished in the top ten.
At Sonoma he’s become the “suckers” pick. It’s tempting to pick him, but he’s had a lot of problems there lately. In 3 of the last 4 races there he’s finished 35th or worse. Those poor results can be chalked up to equipment issues. All of his incident free results there are between 7th to 14th.
Charlotte is of course an unknown, but I think he should run well. It appears to be an aggressive track and that plays to his road course racing strength.