Justin Allgaier has started off the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series campaign on a high with back-to-back podium finishes. This weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the JR Motorsports driver hopes to score his first victory of the season – but first shared his thoughts with POPULAR SPEED.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into Las Vegas Motor Speedway?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I’m excited for Las Vegas. For me, statistically it’s been a great race track not only for myself, but for JR Motorsports. It’s been a great track for us to show speed and run well, especially early on in the season. I think that’s always the most piece in starting off well and that’s one of the tracks we’ve been able to generate some momentum on.
From my standpoint, I’ve had a great start to the season so I’m even more excited about Vegas than I’d normally be. So it should be really good.
PS: Compared to other intermediate tracks, what stands out or is the biggest challenge of Las Vegas Motor Speedway?
JUSTIN: I think a couple of things that make Las Vegas Motor Speedway are for one, the wind. We talk about it every time we go out there it seems. It’s always extremely windy, and the direction varies. You may practice on Friday and the wind will be blowing towards turn three, and then on Saturday, you start the race and it’s blowing towards turn two. So the wind is always very tricky.
The other part of Las Vegas that’s interesting to me is the speed. It’s one of the faster mile-and-a-halves that we go to and you carry a lot of throttle time, but the track has got some characteristics, bumps to it; it can be tricky to navigate those bumps. So not only are you trying to carry the little extra speed, but trying to not crash yourself.
It can be a challenge, but on the flip side, it promotes great racing. Every time I’ve been out there, I feel the racing has been fantastic. It really shakes it up and makes it a lot of fun.
PS: What are your thoughts on the first two races of the season to date?
JUSTIN: Obviously, Daytona from a company standpoint was fantastic. To see Michael (Annett) get his first win was huge. I’m bummed that we were the two part of the one-two for sure, but that was a great day for us. we were able to come out of Daytona with a racecar that was completely in tack, not one ounce of damage on it, knowing that these speedways are extremely challenging. The more we can keep the cars together and working on those and refining those race after race, the better we will be. So that was a plus.
Then to go to Atlanta and back it up with a top-three with a solid day. We weren’t by far the dominant car of Atlanta, but we were respectable and we were able to put ourselves in position all day. So I feel really good about where our program is at. Everybody in the shop has worked extremely hard to make sure we have racecars and race teams that are capable of going to the race track and putting race winning cars together each week.
I’ve been extremely happy and excited about what that looks like for us because last year, I think we finished 38th in Daytona and then went to Atlanta and had an okay day – but not great. So to be able to fire off this year definitely on a better foot, I think really bodes well for what is to come this season.
PS: We know what the team is capable of given the results we’ve seen. But what can you and the team do to make things even stronger to make this year even more successful?
JUSTIN: I think the biggest thing for us is just two things. One thing is refining; we had a great program last year, but I think sometimes it’s really easy to get complacent when your program is really good and you’re running well. You tend to want to stick to that, which is fine, but I think the biggest thing about this sport which is always is a challenge is progression and moving forward. So that’s why I think the word refinement would be a big part of it.
But then the bigger part is execution. Last year, we executed really well at quite a few races, but we didn’t execute everywhere and especially in the playoffs. We had a really rough playoffs, and ultimately it took us out of a shot of winning a championship. But really, it took us out of winning some races and really putting ourselves in that championship picture.
So disappointing is definitely an understatement for how last year ended, but I think refinement and execution are the biggest things for this year.
PS: Beyond Las Vegas, what track on your schedule are you most looking forward to?
JUSTIN: For me, Phoenix (ISM Raceway) is always a great one; I love going to Phoenix. It’s always a lot of fun. I really enjoy going to Bristol; it’s probably my favorite track on the entire schedule. So looking forward to getting to those, but on the flip side, with the program that we’ve had and the success in the year’s past, all of them are race tracks that I am looking forward to.
As well as we’re running right now, we have a great shot at running up front and winning some races. So all of these next five or six on the schedule, I’m really looking forward to.
PS: On the flip side, what track do you wish was on the NASCAR schedule that currently isn’t?
JUSTIN: That’s tough. I miss Gateway (Motorsports Park); that was really close to home where I grew up. I do miss that one being on the schedule. There’s a lot of race tracks that are on that fence, right? They could easily be NASCAR tracks. There’s a lot of talk about the Nashville Fairgrounds; that’d be really cool if we could ever go there. If you look at road courses, then Circuit of the Americas would be a really cool place to go to.
I think there’s a lot of places that would fit the bill really well, but I also understand number one that they have to have the ability to have a race, whether that’s the seating for the fans or just the ability to generate a fan base enough to come support the weekend and makes money for the promoters, the teams, and everybody in that regard. That makes it few and far between to find a race track that can fit that.
PS: We’ve seen drivers explore running different series and cars. Is there anything on your bucket list to do?
JUSTIN: I’ve been actually been fortunate enough to get to do that. I get to go race a Porsche with the folks of Brandt Agriculture. They sponsor a car in Brazil and I’ve been going down there the last couple of years. I have a dirt car as well, so we ran the Chili Bowl with a dirt midget and I race a dirt modified probably 15 or 20 times a year.
I get to do quite a bit of racing, but I would like to run the 24 Hours of Daytona. I think that’s my bucket list race that I really, really want to do. Other than that, I enjoy all types of racing – I’m a big fan and watch different types of racing, but I don’t necessarily always get to the opportunity of being behind the wheel of all those cars that I enjoy.
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