Allgaier Tops Charlotte Qualifying but Handling Issues in Race Ruin Win Chances

Allgaier's Breyer's/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet led the first seven laps of the 200-lap affair around Charlotte Motor Speedway's tough and slick, 1.5-mile tri-oval race surface and possibly the only time this season that NASCAR racers will compete just on the track's oval configuration. It is expected to be announced later this year that the two races at CMS in the fall will instead be run on what is now being referred to as the ROVAL. This is a combination race using CMS' infield road course and a good portion of the oval.

But in this Saturday's event, the #7 Chevrolet began running too free and tight in the center of the corners at both ends of the conventional race track but especially in turns three and four. On lap eight, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran Kevin Harvick bypassed Allgaier for the lead as the Breyer's/Northeastern Camaro began to drop back with its handling issues.

On lap 18, the Toyota driven by Cole Conley spun in turn four to bring out the race's second yellow caution flag. Crew Chief Jason Burdett elected to keep Justin's machine on the track until later in the segment when a pit stop would be better taken. The caution flag was displayed again just five laps into this green flag run, however, and on the re-start, the #7 got caught in the middle and slid back to 12th.

Allgaier was able to rally a bit in what amounted to a 15-lap run to the end-of-segment yellow, reaching 10th place at one point before settling for a 12th place finish.

Burdett now instructed Allgaier to make his first visit to pit road for service, giving Justin four fresh Good Year Eagle tires, a full tank of fuel and an air pressure adjustment in the tires in an effort to eliminate the tightness in the car for the second segment. Allgaier started the second segment in the 15th position and lost additional spots in the early going. Justin regrouped, however, and picked up two positions over the next 11 laps but now he radioed back to Burdett that the car went from plowing to "wrecking loose" suddenly.

Allgaier asked spotter TJ Majors to take a close look at the hood of the #7 to see if there was anything wrong because the hood started to move around a lot and the car got suddenly loose. The problem was later diagnosed as a broken hood pin bar that could have affected the aerodynamics of the race machine, but Justin plowed ahead anyway and remained solidly in the top 15 for the remainder of the second segment to take the yellow in 13th.

Allgaier reported that the car was still tight through the turns and the team made another fast pit stop for four more fresh tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment this time to start the final segment of 102 laps.

Justin restarted the final segment in 9th place and lost some spots initially. Justin informed Burdett that nothing really had changed in the car's handling, and with the #7 showing in 11th place with 76 laps left in the race. That's when another caution flag flew for Brandon Jones' spin in his Chevy in turn two on lap 125 to give Burdett and his pit crew the chance to pit Justin's car again seeking a solution to the handling problems. Again Justin's pit crew quickly changed four tires, filled the car with fuel and made a track bar adjustment to send Allgaier back into the action just outside the top 10. 

By lap 160, the #7 had worked its way up from 11th to 6th for a re-start thanks mainly to Justin's cracker jack pit crew. The #7 was running 8th two laps later when the race's 8th yellow flag flew for an incident involving the cars driven by Denny Hamlin and Brennan Poole in the 2nd turn. Allgaier had dropped back to 11th by that point in the race. The caution gave Burdett yet one more opportunity to make adjustments that could possibly solve the handling woes, calling Justin to the pits for more fresh rubber, fuel and another track bar adjustment for what be a final, 37-lap run to the checkers.

Allgaier re-started this time in 8th place, and even though he would ultimately lose four spots over those final laps, he was able to escape a rash of cautions that plagued the final laps of the final segment. It was with the car on pit road following the race that the team discovered the broken hood pit bar. 

Despite his 5th finish outside the top 10 in the season's first 10 races, Allgaier did jump to within just six points of the Championship Driver's Point lead when season-long points leader and Allgaier's JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler crashed with just 20 laps left. It resulted in a 35th place finish for Sadler who just four races ago enjoyed a 60-point advantage over Allgaier. Another JR Motorsports racer, rookie William Byron, remains 3rd in points after posting a 14th place finish in Charlotte. Byron trails Sadler by just 57 points as the Xfinity Series moves to the Monster Mile that is Dover International Speedway next weekend.

The Dover test will be the final of four, Xfinity Dash 4 Cash races this season that rewards the highest finishing eligible, full time Xfinity Series driver and team a $100,000 cash bonus. Allgaier has already claimed two of the first three Dash 4 Cash races at Phoenix and Richmond and is eyeing another 100 grand bonus.

"It was awesome to be on the pole for today's race," Justin said. "We had a great race car all weekend long during practice and qualifying, but ultimately that wasn't reflected during the race. We found out afterward that the hood pin bar broke that affected the handling of the car. I'm ready to head to Dover next week for the last Dash 4 Cash race of the season. We've run really well there in the past and will have the support of several hundred Northeastern Supply customers and employees, so hopefully we can put ourselves in position to bring in another $100,000 to JR Motorsports," Allgaier added.

Fords dominated the Charlotte race, however, with Ryan Blaney rallying past Kevin Harvick, also in a Ford, on a re-start with just three laps remaining to claim the victory. Harvick, Austin Dillon, Christopher Bell and Hamlin rounded out the top five finishers. The top finishing Xfinity Series regular was Cole Custer who took the checkers in 7th place in yet another Ford. Blaney led a race-high 107 laps while Harvick led 58.

Northeastern will host another large contingent of customers at the Dover race next Saturday. Together with other special guests and Northeastern employees, customers will have the opportunity of meeting Allgaier twice during the weekend. The first will be at a casual hospitality event Friday evening. The second opportunity to meet and listen to the 30-yrear-old Illinois pilot will be on Saturday afternoon at the Northeastern Supply tent at the track just prior to the race. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 1 p.m. EDT.