Allgaier Rebounds From Early Race Disappointments With Strong 4th Place Finish in Las Vegas
The NASCAR Xfinity Series season is 33 races long, so teams and drivers know that they can rebound from poor finishes with better performances in upcoming races and get back into title contention. Justin Allgaier and his BRANDT Professional Agriculture/Northeastern Supply race team proved that Saturday as Justin and team rebounded from two 30th place finishes in the season's first two events by racing to a strong, 4th place finish in the Boyd Gaming 300 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
As the first Xfinity Series regular to take the checkered flag behind Monster Energy NASCAR Cup pilots Joey Logano (race winner), Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez (last season's Xfinity Series champion), Allgaier earned 38 driver points. Coupled with eight additional points from a 5th place finish in the race's first segment and a 7th in the second, Allgaier jumped 15 spots in the Championship Driver Points Standing and is now 11th, 35 points behind leader and JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler who finished 8th Saturday.
"The first two races we did not have very good luck, so today, to be able to have a really fast Chevrolet, to be able to run in the top five a majority of the afternoon, to actually double the amount of points we gained all season just in stages alone, that was huge for us," Allgaier exclaimed after the race.
Starting 13th, Allgaier's #7, bright red Chevy steadily moved towards the front of the field. It climbed to 5th in 34 laps and remained there through the end of the first segment of 80 laps. Allgaier pitted for four tires and fuel but no adjustments even though Justin reported that the car was a little tight through the middle of the turns. The quick pit stop moved the #7 into 4th place for the start of the second, 80-lap segment.
Allgaier did get shuffled back a bit on the re-start but settled into 5th place where he ran most of the segment. When the caution flag flew on lap 162 for debris on the track just before the end of the second segment, Crew Chief Jason Burdett elected to keep the #7 on the race track while other lead lap cars pitted. It improved Justin's position by two positions to 3rd that he was able to hold onto when the caution flag was again displayed to end the second segment. Those two positions Allgaier gained by not pitting resulted in two more driver points which could prove decisive at season's end when the top 12 drivers are named for the season-ending Playoffs.
Justin did pit during the segment break and re-started 14th for the race's final 100 laps but he didn't stay there for long. In just four laps, the #7 charged into 6th place and moved up to 5th when cars began making green flag pit stops.
Allgaier was ordered to pit road for his green flag stop with 42 laps remaining and dropped several spots to 8th after his visit when he slid through his pit stall coming in and lost several, precious seconds. At the time, the #7 was 15 seconds behind race leader Logano. Fortunately, another yellow flag came out on lap 171 when the Chevrolet driven by Ray Black, Jr. spun in turn three, bringing the field back together and giving Allgaier an opportunity to get back into the fray.
Justin made his final pit stop during this caution and was showing in the 9th position for the re-start and the race's final 33 laps. Justin focused on passing one car at a time and improved to 6th place when the race's final caution flag waved on lap 193 when the cars driven by rookies Matt Tift and Spencer Gallagher came together in the second turn. Only four laps remained when the race re-started and Justin continued to exhibit the power his car had in its Chevy engine by bypassing Austin Dillon and Bubba Wallace, Jr. to cop the impressive, 4th place finish.
"I made a mistake on that green flag pit stop by sliding through my pit box, which really hurt us. But when you have a good pit crew, and you've got guys that are behind you, they kept pumping us up and we were able to rebound," Justin explained.
"I feel like we should have finished 3rd. We got held up on that last re-start, but all-in-all, it's still a solid day. We gained a lot of points, and I think from our standpoint that's what we're going to have to do week in and week out. I feel like if we keep this up, we've got a good shot of making it to Homestead and ultimately go for the championship," Allgaier added.