PORTLAND, Ore. -- Road-course ace AJ Allmendinger survived the NASCAR Xfinity Series' wet and wild Portland International Raceway debut with a victory Saturday.
Allmendinger raced to his Xfinity-record eighth victory on a road course and 12th overall series win. He crossed the finish line in the Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 2.879 seconds in front of Myatt Snider.
The 75-lap race on the 12-turn, 1.97-mile permanent road course north of downtown started in heavy rain, resulting in slippery conditions. It was first NASCAR event in the region in 22 years, and a rare stand-alone event for the second-tier national series.
There were nine caution flags and eight lead changes in the race that looked at times like a demotion derby with several spinouts, bumps and wrecks.
Snider led in his Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet going into the third and final stage of the race as a break in the rain dried the course somewhat and drivers switched out their wet tires.
Allmendinger briefly took the lead with 13 laps to go after coming out of a caution -- but the rain started to fall anew and he went to the pits to go to wet tires for the rest of the race. Jade Buford went to the front.
Coming out of the ninth caution with four laps to go, Snider led but Allmendinger was close behind and quickly moved ahead on the inside, making light contact with Snider. Austin Hill finished third.
Allmendinger was set to leave Portland shortly after the race to head to the Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway outside of St. Louis.
Allmendinger was the favorite in the field but he got off to a tough start when he was among seven drivers sent to the back because of unapproved adjustments, and then had to pit after the first lap after going into the grass on the fourth turn.
Sam Mayer got knocked out of the race early, bringing out the caution on laps 14-16. Ty Gibbs, who has two road-course victories among his seven overall wins, went on to win the opening stage. The 19-year-old driver was second last weekend in Charlotte.
Gibbs had pushed his lead to nine seconds when he got hit by Jesse Iwuji, bringing out a caution with eight laps left in the second stage. Iwuji was penalized two laps.
Sheldon Creed took over the lead briefly before the break but he went off the track with Gibbs on turn 12, and Andy Lally moved to the front. Snider won the second stage, his first-ever stage win on the circuit.
Creed was knocked out of the race in the final stage after a multicar crash at turn one. After he got out of his car, he walked back onto the track to confront Buford with an obscene gesture.
"The way my year's gone, every time we have speed, something goes wrong," Creed said.
Allmendinger, the Xfinity Series points leader, finished 19th last weekend at Charlotte after a tire problem in the second half of the race. Josh Berry grabbed the victory for JR Motorsports.
The last NASCAR-affiliated race in the region was the Truck Series, which visited PIR and Evergreen Speedway in Washington in 2000. NASCAR has long eyed racing in this part of the country but until this year was not able to get its national series' on Portland's schedule.
Anthony Alfredo won his first series pole with a lap of 93.229 mph Friday night.