Early-Race Car Damage in Atlanta Proves Decisive as Allgaier Struggles Again to 30th Place Finish
Justin Allgaier’s start to the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series season has been anything but good as early-race incidents not of his choosing have proven costly and put the driver of the #7 BRANDT Agriculture/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet in a huge hole with a pair of 30th place finishes.
In the Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon, the #3 Chevrolet driven by Xfinity Series veteran Ty Dillon spun in turn two on lap three when Dillon couldn’t control his race car after it dipped slightly onto the apron of the race track. Blake Koch’s Chevy had nowhere to go, smashing into Dillon’s car on the apron. Allgaier was running behind the crash scene, and when Dillon’s car began spinning, Justin went high on the track to avoid the wreck only to make hard contact with the outside retaining wall with the right side of his car.
Allgaier was running 16th on the track at the time but lost track position when he had to pit to get his car repaired. When the race re-started on lap seven, the #7 Chevy was 36th on the track and quickly moved up seven positions to 29th in just two laps. As the tires on his race machine wore on the old, slick and bumpy AMS oval, Allgaier’s car began losing its front handling and right side grip due primarily to the damage the car sustained in the early accident.
While running 28th on lap 27, Justin radioed to Crew Chief Jason Burdett that he had a tire going down requiring him to come down pit road. After getting a 4-tire change, track bar adjustment and fuel in his Camaro, Allgaier went back onto the race track two laps down in 36th place and facing a huge, uphill battle with racing action still in the first segment.
Realizing that he was pretty much done for the day in earning a top 10 finish in the second segment and winning the race, Allgaier spent the rest of the afternoon conserving his right front tire and his race car. Adding salt to the wound, the #7 was penalized at the end of the second segment for pitting too soon for fresh tires, fuel and an inspection of the right front suspension by his crew to see if they could find the problem Justin was having. The penalty put the #7 at the rear of the field for the start of the final segment but the adjustments and small suspension repairs made to the car did prove effective.
Justin started that final segment in the 34th position, now four laps in arrears, and was able to improve his position by four spots to 30th at the checkered flag. Allgaier now sits in 26th place in driver points after two races, 56 behind leader and JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler (70). Another JR Motorsports teammate, rookie William Bryon, sits in second place, three points behind Sadler, with Daytona race winner Ryan Reed (66 points), Brendan Gaughan (62) and Matt Tifft (56) rounding out the top five point getters.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers dominated the race with all-time Xfinity Series win king Kyle Busch taking home the winner’s trophy. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick finished behind Busch in this order with Sadler being the first Xfinity Series pilot to cross the finish line in 5th place. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup veterans led all 163 laps with Harvick pacing the 40-car field for a race-high 60 circuits.
“This was not the day we wanted,” Allgaier said. “We suffered damage (to the race car) early and before we even had the chance to see what the #7 Camaro could do. Unfortunately, it just ended up putting us behind for the entire race after we had that tire go down.
“I really hate it for this race team. They’ve worked hard during the off-season and during the first two weeks and we just haven’t had the luck. Hopefully we can turn things around next week in Las Vegas.,” Allgaier added.