Handling, Early-Race Accident Foils Texas Run for Allgaier
Settling for near mid-pack finishes is not what Justin Allgaier and his JR Motorsports race team had in mind when they arrived at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the running of the My Bariatric Solutions 300, NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Teams were racing on a brand new, freshly-paved asphalt racing surface that offered many question marks for engineers and crew chiefs, and for Justin, the question marks continued with his disappointing 13th place finish on Saturday afternoon.
Handling became an issue from the start of the 200-lap, 300-mile test around TMS' fast tri-oval for Allgaier and his #7 Advance Auto Parts/NortheasternSupply Chevrolet. The #7 started the race in the 20th position after a frustrating qualifying effort, and when the race's first caution occurred on lap 13 with Allgaier in 18th place, he reported that the car was tight through the center of all the turns. Crew Chief Jason Burdett decided to leave the car on the track rather than pit, and as Justin improved his running spot by four to 14, he reported to Burdett that the car was losing grip on exit.
The #7 slid back to 16th and was able to maintain that position through the remaining laps of the first segment when it ended on lap 45.
Four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment were in order when Justin finally pitted on the end of the first segment caution with the #7 starting segment #2 in 17th place, and in just three laps, Justin was able to roar into 11th place.
Another yellow caution flag was displayed with 28 laps remaining in the segment and the #7 remained on the track through this delay and re-started the race in 10th and seemingly with the handling issues solved. That all came crashing down on lap 66 when the #7 got collected in a multi-car incident in turn three involving a half dozen race machines.
The #7 suffered damage to the rear end and forced Justin to pit for repairs. When racing re-started with 19 laps to go in the segment, Justin was back in the 21st position from where he continued his charge forward despite the damage to his race car and was back up to 12th when another caution waved with just seven laps remaining in the segment. Again Justin stayed out on the track, and when the segment ended after a 3-lap sprint, the #7 was a nifty 4th to collect four Playoff points.
Burdett called Justin to pit road during the caution break between the second and final segments and again took on four fresh GoodYear Eagles, fuel and had another track bar adjustment. Justin re-started the final segment in 14th place but got caught in the outside groove and slid back to 18th by lap 102. Now Justin was reporting that the car was too free running at the top lane where Justin wanted to run but he hung tough and managed to hold onto that spot when green flag pit stops began on lap 140.
After pitting himself for four more tired, fuel and a another chassis adjustment with 53 laps to go, and everyone else had pitted and the cars recycled back to their original running positions, the #7 was showing in the 12th spot but with race leader and eventual winner Erik Jones and his Toyota breathing down its neck. Jones eventually passed Allgaier putting the #7 a lap down and how Justin would finish after being unable to get a caution flag that would have put the first car a lap down back on the lead lap.
"Overall, it was a tough day," Allgaier explained. "We just couldn't get the handling right on our Chevrolet Camaro. These guys (his crew) worked hard all day long through to try to find what we needed and made some quick repairs after we got caught up in that wreck to help us bring home a top-15 finish.
"Now I'm really looking forward to heading to Bristol in a couple of weeks. That place has been good to us in the past, so hopefully we'll be back to running up front and contending for another win," he added.
The 13th place finish for Justin, coupled with better finishes by Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Ryan Reed, dropped Allgaier to 5th in driver points where his teammate, Elliott Sadler, leads another JR Motorsports teammate, rookie contender William Bryon, by six points. Allgaier sits 51 points out of the top spot but with 27 races remaining in the season and 19 until the Playoff contenders are named.
In scoring the dominating win Saturday, Jones led an impressive 112 laps after starting the race in the 2nd position. Sadler actually grabbed the pole but never did manage to lead a lap and like Allgaier finished a lap down in 10th place. Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon finished behind Jones in that order with upstart Cole Custer finishing 5th and being the first Xfinity Series regular in the finishing order.