Prior to his crash at Daytona, A.J. Allmendinger had put together a rather impressive streak in that famous #43 car. No, he hadn't quite reached the front of the pack, but he had put together a string of 6 consecutive top-15 finishes between Dover and Loudon. To put this into perspective, I took a look back through the history books (or at least the history stat charts here at racing-reference.info) and discovered the last three times the #43 car had such a streak (at least 6 consecutive top-15 finishes). I think the results will surprise you.
The last time the #43 had a similar streak of top-15s was 12 years ago, during the middle of the 1998 season. John Andretti was the driver at that time and he drove that Pontiac to 7 straight top-15s between Pocono and Michigan. (By the way, if you think it's bad now, the Pocono races were just 5 weeks apart back then!) His finishes were better than Allmendinger's, with several top-10s and a best of 3rd at Sonoma. Still, it surprised me that it's been 12 years since the #43 car has seen just 6 top-15s in a row.
Continuing back, the next streak we find was during the early part of the 1995 season when the late Bobby Hamilton was driving. He also picked up 7 straight top-15s with finishes more in line with the ones Allmendinger has achieved here recently. His best was a 4th at Bristol, but the other six ranged from 8th to 15th. (As a side note, one of the tracks included in that streak was North Wilkesboro, a track I sorely miss...but I am glad it is finally reopening this year!)
Had Allmendinger not crashed at Daytona a couple of weeks ago, he could easily be looking at a streak of 8 consecutive top-15s instead of just 6. When was the last time that happened for the #43? You have to go all the way back to 1987 to find the answer. Richard Petty drove the car to 9 straight top-15s between Watkins Glen and Charlotte during the latter portion of that season.
In all, Allmendinger has collected 10 top-15 finishes already this season. That hasn't happened by this point of the season since Richard Petty did it in 1987. Allmendinger is certainly no Richard Petty, but he has shown that he has a considerable amount of talent behind the wheel. Could Allmendinger be the driver who finally helps to bring the #43 back to the front on a regular basis? I think (and hope) the answer to that question is yes!
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