Before getting into the race, on behalf of everyone at the Fan Vs. Fan platform and specifically everyone that writes for the motorsports section, we want to send out deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr.  Sympathies are also sent out to Tony Stewart, who is at the center of the incident the incident that took Mr. Ward's life.  We respect your decision, and wish you well as you try to cope with this unfortunate incident.  The entire racing community is with you in this time of sorrow, loss, and understanding.

 

Sometimes things in racing happen to give a person an opportunity to regroup, and realize what one had and how easily it could be taken away.  In July 2012, A.J. Allmendinger was ready to climb aboard his No. 22 Ford at Penske Racing and go compete for victory at Daytona.  Instead, he was called back to the NASCAR trailer, and told he failed the drug test he was given the week before.

He was sent home, suspended, unsure if he would return to the sport.

His decision, get help, and work his way back in.  He had to go elsewhere to regain trust of his competitors, and then got the chance to work his way back up to the top tier series.  Finally given the opportunity, he joins JTG Daugherty Racing on a full-time basis this season, following some time last year in select races.  His confidence was back, and his desire to win was there.  Having completed the "Road to Recovery" program, he was ready to make an impact.

On Sunday afternoon, that road came full circle.  In a battle that pitted Allmendinger against road-race master Marcos Ambrose, it was Allmendinger taking the victory, his first at NASCAR's top level, and the culmination of a road back that at one time could spell the end of his livelihood.

What is more amazing is that three writers had a good feeling about Allmendinger this weekend, and they were banking on the underdog taking the checkered flag.  Those three are celebrating.  In fact, a majority of the participants enjoyed top-five runs.  It also has given the pool it's first new leader in a while, and has half the field within one race of each other.

Take a look at how everyone stands now following the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen:

 

Rob Tiongson (763) A.J. Allmendinger WON - 4

Kara Martin (753) Jeff Gordon finished 34th - 3

Ryan O'Hara (752) Jeff Gordon finished 34th - 5

Patti Rodisch (746) Jeff Gordon finished 34th - 3

Sal Sigala Jr. (721) Brad Keselowski finished 35th - 5

Dustin Parks (715) Marcos Ambrose finished 2nd - 2

Billy Fellin (702) Marcos Ambrose finished 2nd - 1

Rob Blount (687) A.J. Allmendinger WON - 3

Michael Hirshbein (672) Marcos Ambrose finished 2nd - 1

Aaron Rosser (669) A.J. Allmendinger WON - 2

Misan Akuya (630) Jamie McMurray finished 14th - 1

James Broomhead (613) Marcos Ambrose finished 2nd - 2

 

Next Race:  After such a hard weekend for many in the racing community, a feel-good victory certainly helped.  But, the feeling of victory will wear off when business picks up once again.  Where it picks up is just as important, because all the auto makers will be looking on.

The next race on the docket is once again in the Irish Hills of Michigan, where the Michigan International Speedway welcomes NASCAR once again, and for the final time this season.

Writers, have your picks locked in by Thursday, August 14, at 10 p.m. ET for the Pure Michigan 400.