Allgaier Unable to Maintain Early Race Strength but Still Manages to Earn a Top Five Bristol Finish

Justin Allgaier led 75 of Friday night's 300 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, but those laps came during the first half of the Food City 300, NASCAR Xfinity D-Series race on the Tennessee half-mile, concrete oval. Fighting some handling issues, a changing race track and a rocket of a race car driven by eventual winner Kyle Busch, and a bad re-start, Allgaier faded late but still managed to earn a 5th place finish. It was Justin's 6th top five effort of the 2017 season and second in the last two races.

Allgaier qualified 4th and from the drop of the green flag, the #7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet began charging to the front. By lap two, Justin was up to 2nd. He held that position over the next 11 laps trying to chase down pole sitter Busch when the race's first caution flag flew for David Starr whose Chevrolet cut down a right front tire and smacked the first turn wall. No one pitted on that early caution, and when racing resumed on lap 17, Allgaier charged past on the outside lane as if Busch was standing still to grab his first lead of the night.

The #7 held the top spot until lap 32, which came on a re-start after another yellow flag period when Busch, also starting to get a handle on the outside lane, forged past Allgaier for the command that Busch held until the end of the first segment with Allgaier finishing 2nd.

All the leaders pitted during the end-of-segment caution and Allgaier's crew, headed by Crew Chief Jason Burdett, gave the #7 four new tires, a full tank of fuel and an air pressure adjustment in rapid fashion enabling Justin to grab the top spot. It also helped that Busch was penalized for a speeding penalty on pit road while making his pit stop forcing Busch to re-start the second segment in 26th place.

Allgaier held the lead for the next 58 laps and was definitely a contender for the win while now battling the challenge from last year's Xfinity Series driving champion, Daniel Suarez, who was also driving a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.

Busch managed to work his way through traffic and a gaggle of race cars to the front again by lap 150 when Suarez passed Allgaier for the lead. Busch took 2nd from Allgaier on lap 154 and eventually past Suarez for the lead to complete his impressive rally and held the top spot until the end of the 2nd segment on lap 172.

Complaining of tightness in his Chevy through the center of the corners, Allgaier pitted during the end-of-segment caution, and aside from getting the usual four fresh tires and gas, Justin's machine also had several chassis adjustments performed to try and loosen up the car.

Allgaier re-started the race in the 2nd position behind Suarez this time as last year's XS champion was able to get a phenomenal pit stop from his crew to beat out both Allgaier and his JGR teammate Busch who came out 3rd.

Suarez held the lead for the first 13 laps of racing during the 3rd and final segment before Busch and Allgaier's JR Motorsports' teammate, Elliott Sadler began to challenge. Sadler led the race for 14 laps before Busch regained the advantage for 16 circuits until lap 218. Suarez led for a single lap before Busch took the lead again for good on lap 220 en route to his record 91st Xfinity Series career victory. 

Allgaier was still a factor as late as the lap 224 re-start from caution number seven when the #7 lined up 3rd behind leader Suarez. However, Suarez's car failed to come up to speed the drop of the green flag, and with Allgaier right behind, the two drivers lost precious positions with Allgaier falling back to 8th. By that time, Busch had set sail and enjoyed a huge lead.

Trying to catch the dominant Busch was one challenge for Allgaier with less than 50 laps to go, but getting back into position for a top five finish was another. But Justin was able to pick off three positions by the time the checkered flag waved to grab the 5th position and another top five after 22 of this season's 33 scheduled races. It enabled Justin to shave off some points off his deficit to Sadler to 136 after Elliott finished 3rd Friday but failed to earn as many segment points as Allgaier did.

William Byron, Sadler and Allgaier's JR Motorsports teammate and a top rookie candidate, had a top 10 in his grasp only to cut down a tire and engage with the 4th turn wall ending his night three laps shy of the finish. Byron was credited with a 22nd place finish and now trails Sadler by 110 points but 26 better than 3rd place Allgaier.

Allgaier told TV reporters after the game that he wasn't quite sure what the issues he had with the car was that prevented it from regaining the speed it showed earlier on the race. "I don't know if it was the tires, the race track or the adjustments we made, but I just couldn't find the speed we had earlier.

Nonetheless, Allgaier was happy with the performance and end result. "We had a really good race car tonight. Any time you can walk out of Bristol with a top five finish and clean race car, that's a good day," he stated. “Hats off to this team. They were on it tonight and all weekend long. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going and get another solid finish next week at Road America," he added.