LEXINGTON, Ohio — AJ Allmendinger was so close he could almost envision coasting through his final lap and capturing the checkered flag.
Then a car spun and the subsequent yellow flag meant a restart and a two-lap sprint.
But after leading 73 of 94 laps, he survived that last, late challenge to win the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide series race, the at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"In a way, I feel like I'm playing with house money because I never expected to be back here at this level," Allmendinger said of another major step back after his suspension a year ago for failing a random drug test. "I'm just taking it all in and having fun with it."
Allmendinger has won both starts this year in the second-tier series, both on road courses. He also won at Road America for Roger Penske and credits him for a second chance after the suspension cost Allmendinger his job with Penske's Sprint Cup team.
"It's Roger's world and I'm living in it," Allmendinger said. "I'll go back and I'll celebrate this and enjoy it. And definitely take it all in as it's happening. But I don't let it dictate my life anymore, which I used to."
Michael McDowell finished second, 1.164 seconds behind, with Sam Hornish third.
Trucks: Defending champion James Buescher earned his first series victory of the season, passing Kyle Busch with three laps left in the Michigan National Guard 200 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Busch led on a restart with six laps to go in the 100-lap race. As Brendan Gaughan pressured Busch, Buescher passed both inside. "The last part of it was a lot of fun," Buescher said. "Toward the end of the race, the truck just came to life."
NHRA: Defending Funny Car series champ Jack Beckman earned the No. 1 qualifying position for today's Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., with a run of 4.038 seconds at 313.37 mph. Clay Millican (3.773 at 326.63) led Top Fuel and Vincent Nobile (6.580, 209.43) topped Pro Stock heading into today's eliminations.
Motorcycles: Marc Marquez, a 20-year-old rookie, broke the track record at 1 minute, 37.958 seconds to get the pole for today's MotoGP Indianapolis Grand Prix on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.621-mile, road course.