Justin Allgaier nearly walked away with the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship in 2016.
Homestead-Miami Speedway has proven to be one of his best tracks and after making it to the Championship 4 last November, he closely contended with Daniel Suarez throughout the race.
However, restarting behind a slower car ultimately cost the JR Motorsports driver a shot at the title.
Performing similarly throughout the Playoffs will likely again land him in the championship race, but Allgaier is taking nothing for granted and elevating his game to assure another opportunity.
The road back to Homestead-Miami started on Saturday as he won TheHouse.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, gaining crucial momentum and playoff points.
After winning at Phoenix in March, he secured five bonus points, but this victory proved even more rewarding. He earned a total of 15 additional points, five from the win and ten for finishing second in the regular season standings.
Now heading into the Playoffs, he sits just two points behind top-seeded teammate William Byron.
Allgaier seems like a lock to make the Championship 4 for a second consecutive year, and Chicagoland was a significant step forward for the No. 7 team.
Before Saturday, he only had one top-five finish at a 1.5-mile track this season. With five of the final seven races at intermediate venues, this victory shows improvement at the right time.
“This is a big moment because I feel that mile and a half program has been our weakness at JR Motorsports, at least on the No. 7 team,” Allgaier said. “So to be able to come out today and have that momentum going into the playoffs, that’s huge, that’s what we got to have.”
Similar performances to Saturday in the next seven races will be essential for Allgaier. While the No. 7 team has consistently been among the best cars in the field, capitalizing at the finish will be critical.
“Speed is one thing, being able to execute at the end of these races is another,” Allgaier said.
Redemption will be on the 31-year-old’s mind heading into the post-season where the goal will be to stay alive to go for it all in the season finale.
Once Homestead-Miami arrives, the challenge is on, and with momentum on his side, Algaier may not be finished winning in 2017.
“Hopefully that’s the start of another five or six before this over, that would be incredible,” Allgaier said.
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