Debris Incident Derails Allgaiers Delayed Charlotte Run but Justin is Still Among the Drivers Advancing in Playoffs

Justin Allgaier had a fast race car at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Saturday's Drive for the Cure 300, NASCAR Xfinity Series race that was supposed to be run in the afternoon only to be run in late night due to a day-long rain. Unfortunately for Justin and his Advance Auto Parts/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet race team, the #7 ran over some debris that came off a race car that had just crashed, damaging the front end of Allgaier's race machine.

Allgaier's race team valiantly tried to repair the damage during several pit stops, but in the end, the powerful Hendrick Racing engine under the hood began to overheat and forced the #7 to the garage for the night after just 112 of the race's 200 laps. It resulted in Justin being credited with a disappointing 33rd place finish but one that fortunately did not prevent Allgaier from being among the eight drivers to successfully advance to round two of the 2017 Xfinity Series Playoffs that will determine the 2017 champion.

The rain that fell throughout the daylight hours on race day canceled qualifying so the startig field for the race was determined by owner points giving Allgaier the 5th starting spot.

Despite some handling issues during the race's first segment that Allgaier reported back to Crew Chief Jason Burdett, the #7 Chevy remained on the race track and moved into 4th place by lap 30 when the #78 Chevrolet driven by Angela Ruch spun in turn two to bring out the race's first caution.

Burdett elected to keep Justin on the race track, and when the race re-restarted on lap 30, the #7 was showing in the 5th position. 

Justin had a good re-start on lap 35 and promptly took over 4th place before another caution, again caused by Ruch's now lapped car that spun and then hit the turn two wall on lap 44 in front of Allgaier's Chevrolet. Ruch's car hit the wall so hard that the battery in her racecar became dislodged and rolled down the racing surface where the #7 inadvertently ran over it.

Allgaier said that he couldn't differentiate the black-colored battery from the color of the asphalt racing surface until it was too late. The incident and subsequent damage to Allgaier's race car is what ultimately caused the engine in the car to overheat.

Allgaier pitted during the yellow flag caused by Ruch's accident for repairs to the nose of the #7 and the standard fuel, four fresh tire changes and a chassis adjustment work by his pit crew with the first race segment actually ending when pit road opened for pit stops. Justin was running 4th at the time and earned segment points for that position before making his trip to pit road under the yellow to allow his crew to start making repairs to the race car.

Allgaier actually made a second stop during the caution for additional repairs, and when racing resumed on lap 52, the #7 was showing in the 28th position but still on the lead lap and with a lot of racing left.

After five green flag laps and Allgaier up to 22nd in the field, Justin radioed in to Burdett that his car was beginning to lose some power and that his water and oil temperatures were going up. Just a few laps later, another caution flag waved with the #7 in 21st. It gave Burdett the opportunity to pit the #7 twice for some investigative work and subsequent repairs and to try and stabilize the oil and water temps, forcing the #7 to lose a lap. When racing re-started on lap 66 and Justin's car now in the 31st spot, Justin continued to knock off positions and was 28th after just one lap. The gauges hadn't changed but the engine was still a little bit shy of power. Allgaier would take the segment two checkers in 28th place and still a lap down.

During the segment two cation break, Allgaier would again visit pit road for fresh rubber, fuel and more repair work. The #7 would take the green flag to start the final, 103-lap segment still in 28th. Allgaier eventually got to the point of being the first car a lap down and in position to get the lost lap back when another yellow flag was displayed on lap 104 for a bouncing tire down pit road that came out of the pit stall of Toyota driver and Playoff contender Matt Tifft. Allgaier had moved up to 26th place at that point and Justin reported that his gauges were still holding tight.

Racing resumed on lap 108 with the #7 now back on the lead lap and up to 21st and hoping that the engine's oil and water would remain under normal temperatures. But just after the re-start from the caution, Allgaier said that the engine was now overheating and after 112 total laps, the #7 Advance Auto/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet was done for the night and headed back to the garage area.

Alex Bowman, in the Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, led the final 32 laps enroute to his very first career, Xfinity Series victory and was followed across the finish line in order by Sam Hornish, Jr., Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon and the first Xfinity Series regular and Playoff contender, Brennan Poole.

Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric, Tifft and Allgaier's JR Motorsports teammate, Elliott Sadler, all four of whom are Playoff entries, grabbed the 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th positions, respectively, and all advanced into the round of eight along with Poole and Allgaier. The remaining two drivers to compete for the final four Playoff spots that will be determined over the next three races include new point leader William Byron, another JR Motorsports driver, and Ford driver Ryan Reed.

The four drivers who failed to advance were Brendan Gaughan, Jeremy Clements, JR Motorsports' Michael Annett and Blake Koch.

Heading into the next race at Kansas Speedway in two weeks, Byron will lead the pack of eight Playoff pilots with 3.026 points with Allgaier now 2nd but only three points behind. Sadler (minus 6), Hemric (-17) and Custer (-19) round out the top five. The four drivers with the most points after the races at Kansas, Texas and Phoenix will then head to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida on November 17 to determine the point champion.

"Unfortunately, when the 78 got into the fence, the battery came out. I saw some debris coming across the race track. I didn't see the battery. It kind of blended in with the race track, and when I saw the parts go up and over the hood, I knew what it was", Justin said.

"I really hate it for this race team. The car was really, really good tonight. We had strong runs early there in the first stage. Hopefully, we can keep ourselves in the owner's points championship (despite the 33rd place finish that halted an Allgaier streak of tree straight top three finishes). But all in all, I am really proud of this race team. The Hendrick Engine Shop always does a great job, and this Chevy engine was running good until we suffered the damage," Allgaier ended.