Crew Chief & Allgaier Gamble at Iowa Fails to Work; 20th Place Finish Keeps Them in Recent Funk

A few weeks ago, in the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series' first race at Iowa Speedway, Justin Allgaier and BRANDT Professional Agriculture/Northeastern Supply Race Team Crew Chief Jason Burdett gambled and lost on whether to make a late-race pit stop or not while running near the front of the field and with a race car capable of winning the race.

That time, Burdett ordered a green flag pit stop with 35 laps remaining and was banking on another caution to be called prior to the race's end. That would have resulted in pit stops by the front runners but with Justin having already pitted and in position to gain the top spot, in perfect position to stay out on the track and grab a front row starting berth for the final laps.

Unfortunately, that caution never materialized and Allgaier had to settle for a 9th place finish.

Saturday, again at Iowa for the second and final time in 2017, Allgaier had a rocket ship for a race car. He finished 6th in the first segment and then dominated segment two en route to a victory for another Playoff point for the driver of the #7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.

Now faced with another similar decision to make as they did five weeks ago at Iowa Speedway, Burdett and Allgaier watched a yellow flag displayed on lap 171 when Spencer Gallagher's Chevrolet smacked the turn four wall with Allgaier in command and successfully holding off the charge of rookie Ryan Preece in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.

Determining whether to pit or not, Burdett made the call to have Allgaier stay out on the race track only to be snookered by the other lead-lap cars that all pitted under the yellow. When the race re-started, the #7 slid back 11 positions on the first two laps unable to contend with cars running on fresh tires. The gamble was to hope that another caution flag would come out so that Allgaier could pit under yellow and have the best conditions with which to overcome his car's indifferences.

Unfortunately, that caution never materialized and Burdett had no alternative but to finally call Allgaier to pit road for a 4-tire change and fuel under green flag conditions on lap 227 putting Allgaier two laps down to the leader (Preece) with just 23 laps remaining. Ironically, there were three cautions after Justin pitted - the first on lap 232, the second on lap 240 and the final one on lap 248 that forced NASCAR to use its overtime, green-white-checker finishing procedure. These late yellows prevented Allgaier from getting any wave around opportunities to possibly get the laps he was down back and Justin took the checkers in 20th place for another frustrating performance.

"We had a really fast race car today," Allgaier stated. "I knew we had a fast car on the long runs yesterday in practice, but it seemed like today we had some really good short-run speed, and I was able to make some moves. It was fun racing with Ryan (Preece), but I hate it for our JR Motorsports team.

"Jason and I were both in agreement (on the decision to stay out), and I thought we made the right call. It just didn't work out our way. I like going to Victory Lane, so whatever gambling you end up doing at that point is always worth it if you end up in Victory Lane," Allgaier added.

Allgaier qualified a modest 14th for the scheduled, 250-lap test around Iowa Speedway's unique, 3/4 mile configuration and in just the first two laps charged into the top 10. Despite a car that was loose on entry into the corners and tight in the middle, Allgaier finessed his way to a 6th place finish in the first segment.

A blazing, 11.6-second pit stop for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment during the segment break gave Allgaier the 3rd starting berth for the second segment, and it took Justin just three laps to grab the top spot that he easily held throughout the segment's remaining 57 laps.

"We did what we thought was right, and unfortunately it didn't work out for us. Tough day. And we'll regroup," Allgaier promised as Xfinity Series action shifts to road courses for three of the next four scheduled races starting with Watkins Glen in Upstate New York next Saturday. It'll be the Mid-Ohio Race Course in two weeks and then Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI in four following the second short track assault in Bristol, TN on August 18.

Allgaier's JR Motorsports teammates Elliott Sadler and rookie sensation William Byron posted finishes of 12th and 9th, respectively, in Iowa leaving Byron 54 points out of the top spot. Allgaier remains 3rd but 143 tallies out of the top spot.

In winning his first Xfinity Series race, Preece outdistanced runner-up Lyle Benjamin, 3rd place finisher Brian Scott, 4th place Brennan Poole and 5th place Cole Custer.