Faulty Hood Bracket Stops Michigan Run for Allgaier

A flopping hood, caused by a broken bracket, killed the aerodynamics of Justin Allgaier's Suave Men/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet Saturday at Michigan International Speedway and with it the car's performance. The end result was a disappointing 16th place finish in the Irish Hills 250, NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

Allgaier was only able to post the 22nd fastest qualifying speed, so he started the 125-lap race around MIS' fast and wide, 2-mile oval deep in the field. On the drop of the green flag, cars in front of Justin's got bottled up and the #7 Suave Men/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet got into the rear bumper of Ryan Reed's Ford. That hit weakened one of the brackets holding down the hood that eventually broke causing the hood to begin flapping.

This happened during the second race segment, one in which the #7 finished 3rd to annex valuable driver points by holding off their pit stop until the 2nd segment was officially completed and after the bulk of the lead lap cars made their pit stops prior to the end-of-segment caution.

Allgaier first reported the hood issue back to crew chief Jason Burdett on lap 73 early in the final segment and said it was affecting his straightaway speed and handling significantly. The team caught a big break 11 laps later when a caution flag waved for debris allowing Allgaier to bring his race car down pit road for tape to be applied to try and hold the hood down. The team also filled the car with fuel and changed tires.

When the race re-started on lap 88, the #7 was back in the 23rd position but still on the lead lap, Allgaier was running in 18th place when another yellow flag waved for more debris on the track with just 12 laps left in the race. The hood on the #7 had begun to flop again, so Allgaier pitted again for some more tape to be applied and a change of tires, sending the #7 back onto the race track in 24th place with nine laps remaining.

Justin got on top of the wheel to try and pass as many lead lap cars as he could over those final laps and was able to improve by eight spots to 16th despite a caution that came out with three laps left for a single car spin down the front stretch by Toyota rookie driver Matt Tifft.

"We just didn't have the day we wanted here at Michigan," Allgaier said. "We had a good run going but had something go wrong at the front of our Chevy with the hood. We broke a part at the front under the initial start when everything got jammed up. I got pushed into the back of another car and damaged the front bumper a little bit and just the fatigue of the race and the speeds we were running, it (the bracket) finally broke and unfortunately just put us behind the eight ball," he added.

Allgaier said that the flopping hood really hurt the car's horsepower and straightaway speed and was an issue that the team certainly hadn't planned for. "We went through some changes in the car because of it (the flopping hood) and that we weren't expecting to have," Justin explained.

The 16th place finish, coupled with JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler's 3rd place overall finish and second segment victory, dropped Allgaier out of the driver points lead that he had assumed for the first time ths season last week after finishing 2nd last week in Pocono. Justin now trails Sadler by 21 points after the 2017 Xfinity Series season's first 13 races.

Another JR Motorsports teammate, rookie William Byron, had a shot at his first Xfinity Series win but was nipped at the line by the width of a tire by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran Denny Hamlin. Byron was a front runner throughout most of the final segment and finished 5th in the race's first segment. He led for seven of the final eight laps of the final segment before Hamlin made his move on the inside coming off the 4th turn, bumping and banging with Byron's Liberty University Chevrolet. Hamlin beat the 19-year-old in what was called the closest margin of victory in an Xfinity Series race in MIS history.

Rounding out the top five finishers was the 3rd place Sadler, Brad Keselowski and race pole sitter Kyle Busch. Keselowski led the most laps with 54 but faded on the final re-start.

Byron solidified his hold on 3rd place in driver points with his effort and now trails leader Sadler by 72 points and 2nd place Allgaier by 51 as the Xfinity Series moves to the 3/4-mile short track oval in Iowa next Saturday.