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Head2Head: Should Dinger have dumped Newman in M'ville?

April 02, 2012, ,

AJ Allmendinger was so close to his first Cup Series victory at Martinsville he could touch it. He gave Ryan Newman all he could on the first lap of the second green-white-checkered and had numerous opportunities to put a bumper on Newman's No. 39 -- but he didn't.

Should Allmendinger have dumped Newman for the win?


Winning a Cup Series race isn't an easy feat ... in fact the odds are pretty much against you. Don't let last year's first-time winfest fool you, winning Cup races just doesn't happen for everyone. That's why I'm surprised AJ Allmendinger chose to be the "good guy" and settled for second at Martinsville when a well-timed bumper to Ryan Newman's No. 39 would have put Dinger in Victory Lane for the first time in his career.

It's not like Allmendinger is in position to win races every week. In his first year in a proven winner -- the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge -- Allmendinger has been less than stellar. His best finish on the season was 15th and aside from leading a lap at Las Vegas, he'd only led laps at Bristol. Sitting 26th in points heading to Martinsville, this team was in serious need of a pick-me-up.

Plus, it's not like Newman deserved to win. If it was Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson, I could see settling for second to let the better car win. But Newman didn't have a race-winning car -- he led once, and it came as he avoided the carnage on Lap 498. And this is Martinsville, folks -- bumping your way to a victory is almost expected. How many aggressive, race-ending battles have we seen in the final laps at Martinsville? It's what makes the racing there a must-see.

Being the nice guy is great, but you have to pick your spots. No one would have discredited Allmendinger if he nudged Newman and grabbed the checkered flag. You're in this sport to win, not make friends. And now Allmendinger has no idea when he will have the opportunity again.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

You can beat and bang with the best of 'em while still staying true to yourself. That's exactly what AJ Allmendinger did Sunday, and he regrets none of it.

If he doesn't, neither should anyone else.

It seems like every few months, there's some run-in on the track and the party who comes out on the short end vents about how they've never raced the aggressor like that, and how there's a code, etc. etc. Allmendinger most definitely could have dumped Ryan Newman during that final green-white-checkered run in the Goody's Fast Relief 500 on Sunday. Heck, some people probably even expected him to. After all, his first career Cup Series victory was within his grasp. Plenty have done it before, with less on the line, and even more will do it after.

Would Kyle Busch have put the bumper to Newman? Perhaps. But Allmendinger, win total aside, is not Kyle Busch.

"That's not the way I want to win a race," Allmendinger said.

And that's absolutely the right angle to take. Sure, the Dinger could have sprayed champagne and been awesome in Victory Lane. But at some point, he'd know he didn't win it on talent, but instead on force.

Fans need to decide if they want someone who will do anything to win, or someone who respects the sport of racing -- not wrecking.

Allmendinger knows which side he's on, and he's comfortable with that. Everyone else should be as well.

Jill Erwin, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Instead, the driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge settled in behind Newman and brought home a career-high second-place finish -- his first top-10 of the season. No one questions the finish was a good one for Allmendinger, especially considering how his season has started. But should he have been more aggressive to get that elusive first victory? Bill Kimm and Jill Erwin have their opinions. Read theirs and weigh in with your own in the comments below. And don't forget to vote in the poll at the right.