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XFINITY

Allgaier Believes Curb Improvement Led to Additional Use and Issues

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at Watkins Glen International marked the first race of NASCAR’s top three series on the new surface.

In addition to the repavement, the curbs around the corners were renovated. This led to drivers using the curbs much more than they previously had as they raced through the course.

A handful of drivers faced broken parts throughout the Zippo 200 at the Glen, a potential consequence of abundant curb use in the corners.

Trouble struck early for the all-time XFINITY Series wins leader Kyle Busch as he pitted from second under the first caution due to a broken splitter. After repairing the damage, he restarted 34th on the ensuing restart. He was then involved in the eight-car crash atop the esses on Lap 19, ending his day.

Brad Keselowski challenged teammate and race winner Joey Logano late, but a broken track bar brought the No. 22 car to pit road from second with five laps remaining.

These issues for the Sprint Cup Series drivers could indicate rougher curbs than before the repave. However, seventh place finisher Justin Allgaier believes the curbs are better now, which allowed the drivers to use them more.

“I wouldn’t say they were problematic,” Allgaier told POPULAR SPEED. “I think you had to be careful as to picking your battles as to how hard you hit them. I think the curbs were definitely better than they were the last couple of years we’ve come here.”

While the JR Motorsports driver was fond of the improvement, he admits to having used them more than in past years.

“Unfortunately, they were better, and we were able to use more of them, and guys were using every bit they could,” he said.

Allgaier’s seventh place result ties his best series finish at the road course from 2013. Now heading to two additional road courses in August, will this performance provide him with confidence?

“Absolutely,” he said. “We have a few things we need to work on, but fortunately for us, we won’t find those things at the other two road courses that we’re going to.”

The XFINITY Series heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next weekend for their third standalone event of the season. They will then head to Bristol before competing at Road America at the end of the month.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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XFINITY

Justin Allgaier Outruns Teammate For Bonus

Justin Allgaier had 100,000 reasons to smile following Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The JR Motorsports driver passed teammate Elliott Sadler in the late stages of the event to pick up the XFINITY Dash for Cash bonus.

“Very happy to come out of here with a solid top five [and] to have all JR Motorsports teammates in the top six,” Allgaier said. “To have to race a teammate for this Dash for Cash is something that was challenging and nerve-racking. But definitely glad to bring the check home.”

Erik Jones looked to be headed for his third bonus of the season until he got into the wall, forcing him to make an unscheduled pit stop with 17 laps to go. Daniel Suarez took over the top spot for the bonus, though the caution flew with 12 laps to go. While Suarez chose to stay out, both JR Motorsports drivers pitted for four tires. Allgaier said when he came off pit road, he knew he had a good shot once he realized their track position.

“Under the last caution, I’m going, ‘Now I’m racing a teammate, which obviously changes the game.,’” he said. “Not that you race other competitors any different, but knowing he’s a teammate, and he’s got the same stuff I’ve got. How do you force that pass and make it happen?”

On the restart, both Allgaier and Sadler were able to get by Suarez, with Sadler holding position ahead. However, the final caution set up an overtime duel to the checkered.

“I knew getting into turn one on the outside would be a challenge. Fortunately, I was able to get behind him off of turn two and then off of four, I think he got in the wake of the 42 (Kyle Larson) and got tight. I hit turn four, that was the only time all day I hit that turn perfectly and was able to run through there wide open,” Allgaier said. “I was able to get up next to him, passed him.”

Allgaier noted it wasn’t easy throughout the day as it seemed the conditions kept changing, based on rubber put down and whether close to another car.

“One lap I’d be loose in, tight in the middle and then next lap I’d be tight, and then next lap loose in turn three but not in four,” he said. “It was just hard to know what your car was going to do one lap to the next with the ever-changing conditions. To come out of here with a strong finish means a lot.”

With his seventh top five of the season, Allgaier moves up to fourth in points as the XFINITY Series heads to Iowa Speedway. The short oval has treated the driver of the No. 7 Brandt Chevrolet well in the past, with four top 10s in his last five starts.

“I’m excited. Getting back to Iowa is a lot of fun, and it’s one of those places where we feel we’re closer and unload off the truck and be good,” he said. “Mile and a half, two miles have been our weakness so to come out of today with a good solid finish with all three cars that bodes well moving forward. But at the same time, the short tracks are our bread and butter.

“I love Iowa Speedway; it’s one of my favorite tracks on the circuit. They’ve done a good job with the facility there. It’s getting worn out and getting character to it, and we have a night race there so it should be good.”

Allgaier feels once again they’ll be in a position to do well, as long as he doesn’t make any mistakes. He finished seventh last month, however, felt he could’ve finished in the top five if he hadn’t spun on pit road.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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XFINITY

Change Compelling to XFINITY Series Competitors

LOUDON, NH – Some of the most impactful changes to the Sprint Cup Series in recent years have been the rules package modifications, which now feature less downforce. These steps toward improving the racing have proven successful in creating more compelling competition in each race. 

Now, the question is whether NASCAR will implement similar changes in the XFINITY Series.

The second-tier series will decide its champion through the Chase system for the first time this season. While this is intended to create a closer and more exciting way to award the title, improving the on-track product will be key to further bettering the series.

Improved competition in the Cup Series shines a light on the less-exciting racing in the XFINITY Series, showcasing the need for possible changes in their rules package to bring the racing product up a notch, too.

With the potential to see closer, more exciting racing and increased passing, making adjustments seems like a no-brainer. However, while change is needed, it’s much harder to accomplish in this series. 

“It comes down to economics,” JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier said. “We have a strong XFINITY Series right now. If you start changing too much stuff, it takes the teams that can’t afford to do it out of it, or increases the costs so much that it doesn’t make sense to run anymore, and obviously that is not a good change.”

Change is expensive, especially for most XFINITY Series teams that compete on a smaller budget than most Sprint Cup teams. When alterations in the rules package are made, it often requires updating equipment and spending money.

This presents the challenge of making successful change without impacting the health of the series. While the logistics are complicated, if NASCAR were to go toward a low downforce package similar to what’s used in the Sprint Cup Series, XFINITY Series regulars would be up for the challenge.

“The way the Cup package has been following would be fun to try,” Roush Fenway Racing driver Darrell Wallace Jr. said.

With the low downforce package in the Cup Series, the cars are more difficult to drive and have less grip, and Wallace Jr. would welcome driving a car that is harder to handle.

“You go to some of these places that you are pretty much flat out and wide open like Kansas and stuff. To be driving it there a little bit would be a lot of fun,” he said.

Allgaier competed with the low downforce package twice last season in the Sprint Cup Series with HScott Motorsports and enjoyed what it brought to the table.

“I really love the low downforce package,” he said. “I think on the Sprint Cup Series side it’s really created a better environment for everybody — the teams, the racers.”

The thing is, the two series are vastly different.

“The challenge right now is the XFINITY car and the Sprint Cup Series car are quite a bit different in the fact of the aero packages and the bodies and all that,” Allgaier said. “I’m not sure that those same changes would help a XFINITY car, but I know as we get farther into this, and they keep exploring, I’m sure they’re going to work on ways to make the XFINITY Series car better.”

No matter what changes are made, they will be welcome in the XFINITY Series. While the low downforce package may not be the exact answer, it will spur discussion as to what needs to be done. The series will have to adapt to remain relevant, and how they do that over the next few years will be intriguing.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @NASCARJason

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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XFINITY

XFINITY XTRA: JGR is FAST at KY

Nothing New

The repave of Kentucky Speedway did little to slow down Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas, which claimed the top three spots in XFINITY series qualifying for the ninth time this season. Kyle Busch won the pole, Daniel Suarez started second and Eric Jones, third.

At the onset, one number took command of  the leaderboard for the entire night. The No. 18 became the chasee, with one exception. Busch only relinquished the lead to pit and grabbed another checkered flag to pad his stats in the XFINITY series. He dominated the field to the point where only 11 cars were on the lead lap at the finish.

But JGR’s power didn’t stop with first place. Jones would spend almost the first half of the race running second before losing grip just after Lap 90. That allowed Austin Dillon to take the spot away and hold it until “the fourth quarter” began. By then, Jones was back in second.

After a spinout by Ray Black Jr.  created a restart, Jones briefly held the lead until another caution. During that time, Jones was penalized for not keeping up with the pace car. The frustrated Jones restarted 3rd and finish 4th. The third JGR driver, Suarez, had been battling for a top-five position for most of the night but picked up where his teammate left off.

On the final restart, Dillon briefly challenged Busch for the lead and claimed the runner-up spot. Suarez, Jones and Darrell Wallace, Jr. filled out the top five.

 

Ty Dillon’s Rebound

While Joe Gibbs Racing was able to conquer the repave during qualifying, Ty Dillon got loose and scraped the wall, one of many drivers from both the XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series to have difficulty navigating the upper groove on Friday.

While Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing team was able to fix the No. 3, he had to go to the back of the field. Fortunately for Dillon, that car had been among the fastest during practice, and that translated to the race — even with the temperature difference.

With a fast car, some aggressive driving and pit strategy, Dillon was in the top 10 just after the competition caution at Lap 25.

On Lap 159, he gambled again, staying out for several laps while others pitted. A pit road speeding penalty could have been a setback but, under the circumstances, he still remained 9th and improved to 7th.

 

JR Motorsports Has Seen Better Days

While JR Motorsports seemed in position to continue their challenge of Joe Gibbs Racing for XFINITY series dominance, they had several setbacks in Kentucky.

After colliding with the No. 90 of Alex Guenette on pit road, Cole Custer, driving the No. 88 this week, suffered damage to his car’s power steering and headed to the garage.

Custer, with his career best start of 8th, returned to the track at approximately Lap 120. But as he came back on track, teammate Justin Allgaier, running in the top 10, was heading to the garage to work on an issue with the drive plate on the No. 7 Chevrolet. Allgaier returned to the race 20 laps down and finished 31st, one spot ahead of Custer.

If JR Motorsports did have luck, it was saved for Elliott Sadler. While he didn’t challenge Busch for the win, he ran up front all night, had little trouble on the track and finished 6th.

 

EMAIL: john.milner@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsements.

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XFINITY

ALLGAIER ON SECOND-PLACE: “Gonna Hurt A Little While”

For the second straight restrictor-plate race, the winner was decided via video replay, and for the second consecutive time, Justin Allgaier was scored second.

“It’s going to go either way – you’ll be so happy that you can’t believe it, or so disappointed,” he said. “This one is going to hurt in the morning more than it hurts right now. But at the same time, NASCAR is very adamant that they’re going to exhaust every option to make the right call. I could wish that someone flipped the switch a little earlier or later, or I had a little more momentum – there are a lot of things that could’ve gone either way.

“But I was able to finish the race and have all four fenders on it, and there’s a lot of crashes tonight that we could’ve been in.”

After starting near the front of the field, Allgaier escaped the first big wreck on Lap 15 with minor damage to his No. 7 TradeMark Nitrogen Chevrolet. When the lane checked up, Allgaier got into the back of Brendan Gaughan, folding the upper lip on the nose down.

“The guys were able to get it folded back out and get it closer, but we had a lot of bare bond and other stuff on the hood to stop it from buckling,” he said. “Fortunately, it was clear of the radiator and duct work, so we dodged a bullet in that regard. But at the same time, more stuff on the front bumper then aerodynamically wasn’t going to help us at all. So I think that didn’t help when we pulled out to pass for the lead.”

To keep themselves in contention, crew chief Jason Burdett played a bit of strategy, bringing Allgaier down pit road under yellow at Lap 49. So when the caution flew 17 laps later, he was able to stay out and gain track position, restarting as the leader with 29 laps to go.

The JR Motorsports driver remained in the top five through the final portion of the event, getting alongside Aric Almirola for the lead on the final lap. Battling with Almirola on the backstretch, Allgaier seemed to have the edge, as a wreck unfolded behind the leaders. At the time, NASCAR didn’t throw the caution.

Going through the middle of the corner, Allgaier lost the edge he had on Almirola, but started to gain ground again on the exit. But the caution flew after Ryan Ellis requested medical attention.

For Allgaier, it flipped a “16th of a foot too early” scoring him second.

“I think Aric and I ran the whole rest of the lap, even through the debris, just trying to be a little faster than the other one to stay out front thinking that’d be the determining factor,” Allgaier said. “It’s so hard. The point we were at, I don’t know if it would’ve been better to go back to the line. It’s the same scenario as Talladega – should’ve, would’ve, could’ve – and they call it a little bit before we’re ahead, and if they call it a little later we’re ahead. But it is what it is.

“When they come down to the end like that, you have to go 100%. TJ was saying when you look at the replay, it depends what angle you look at it as to where they’re going to call it. Unfortunately, we got a little behind.”

Racing side-by-side at the time, Allgaier admitted he didn’t know whether he was ahead or not, as he didn’t expect the caution come to out. However, he understands the reasoning if the shoe had been on the other foot.

“I look at it to where those guys on the backstretch have crashed and might need to be attended to,” he said. “If I’m back there, and I might need service, might need help, my goal is that NASCAR calls the caution as soon as I can so the safety guys can get to me.”

Because of how much time had passed since the wreck, he was set to race to the checkered flag.

“At that point, I had help behind me and was pretty confident we had the momentum, and we’d be okay,” Allgaier said. “I think if you look at different angles, man, it is close. I don’t want to be the person that judges that – I can assure you. But at that point, you’ve done everything that you can do and can’t do anymore.

“Right place at the right time – just a few inches short.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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XFINITY

JRM Regulars Rebound at Iowa

JR Motorsports XFINITY Series regulars Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier scored top-10 finishes in Sunday’s American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway, but it didn’t come easily for the duo.

Sadler finished sixth after starting from the back of the field, and Allgaier rebounded from a speeding penalty on pit road to finish seventh.

Sadler qualified fifth but was forced to start from the tail end because of a post-qualifying body modification. Erik Jones and Brad Keselowski also started from the rear for the same reason, with all three drivers surrendering top-10 qualifying spots.

After a competition caution on Lap 41, Sadler was in the top 10 and by Lap 100, cracked the top five, running as high as third.

Allgaier started fourth and ran in the top five for the entire first half of the race. During a pit stop under caution on Lap 126, he was nabbed for going too fast entering pit road. He restarted 18th, but the No. 7 driver climbed back into the top 10 less than 40 laps later.

When the dust settled, Alex Bowman led the way for JRM, bringing the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro home in fifth.

Sadler now sits second in the standings, just 21 points behind Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Suarez. Allgaier sits fourth behind Richard Childress Racing driver Ty Dillon.

JRM has three wins this season — two coming from the No. 88 with Chase Elliott at Daytona and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Richmond. Sadler won at Talladega in April, the site of his last victory, which came in 2014 with JGR.

Both drivers joined JRM for the 2016 campaign. Allgaier left HScott Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series to replace Regan Smith in the No. 7 and Sadler left Roush Fenway Racing to replace Chase Elliott, who graduated to the Cup Series and took over Jeff Gordon’s iconic No. 24 Chevrolet.

Fourteen races into the season, JRM’s toughest competition has been JGR — who has had the upper hand thus far with eight victories. With the Chase drawing closer as the series enters the summer months, JRM is showing more speed and looks like it can give JGR a run at the championship.

Sadler is virtually locked into the Chase with the Talladega win and is third on the 12-spot grid. Allgaier, who last won an XFINITY race in 2012, is yet to visit Victory Lane, but sits comfortably in fifth — 110 points above the cutoff.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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XFINITY

Allgaier, JRM Keep Getting Stronger

CONCORD, N.C. – Justin Allgaier added another top-five finish to his extensive list of 2016 accomplishments at Charlotte Motor Speedway, proving that the No. 7 team – and JR Motorsports as a whole – is dominating their biggest challenges.

The fifth-place result did not come easy, as Allgaier’s car was off during practice sessions, and crew chief Jason Burdett and team attempted to hone in on the issues. Solid pit stops throughout the afternoon helped ‘Little Gator’ fight toward the top 10. When the final caution flew with two to go and pushed the race into overtime, Burdett made the call for two tires while other competitors took four.

It was a risk that eventually paid off – in more ways than one. The result was a breath of fresh air for Allgaier and JR Motorsports; as the driver of the No. 7 admitted after the race, mile-and-a-half tracks are a weak point for the entire organization.

“I think at the end of the day, any time we can battle it out, we can keep learning on these mile-and-a-half tracks – I feel like that’s our weakness at JR Motorsports, our mile-and-a-half program,” he said. “I feel like our company is good as a whole, and we’ll keep working on these Camaros and try to get them to where they’re battling for wins every week.”

Their struggle at cookie cutter tracks is one worth addressing. The organization’s three wins came at two superspeedways and a short track, leaving the most common layout unconquered. It’s difficult to put together a complete season without mastering mile-and-a-halfs.

And when a team is this strong, other teams will take advantage wherever they can.

There’s pressure to keep improving, but Allgaier is at ease. The addition of the Chase format to the XFINITY Series contributes to that feeling and gives somewhat of a safety net for the off days.

“[The Chase] has been something that’s put my crew chief and me in a position where we don’t necessarily have to finish those races and finish well,” he said. “We want to, obviously, but you also have to get outside the box. I think from my standpoint, we’re constantly pushing. This weekend, all three [JR Motorsports cars] came with something different to try and make things better. I know the guys at the shop are working their tails off to get our racecars better. Everyone who puts a hand on these cars is working really hard.”

There are positives that combat the company’s flaws, and the No. 88’s performance – no matter who is behind the wheel – is one of them; although the car is wheeled by a new driver each week, it finishes in the top 10 each time. Chase Elliott took it all the way to Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway. Most recently, Alex Bowman wowed everyone in his one-race stint, claiming third at Dover International Speedway. This success is important to JR Motorsports in its entirety; when one car is blossoming, the rest of the team tends to follow suit.

Also, the three-car team is close. Out of all the intermediate races so far, they have collectively accumulated nine top fives and 17 top 10s. It’s not if they master the layout, it’s when.

Translation: this organization can only go up from here, especially with Allgaier involved. While he adds to JRM’s list of accomplishments every week, it helps the No. 7 team come together and flourish despite being somewhat behind at the beginning of the season. Now, it’s as if the group was never apart – and his competitors should watch their backs.

“It has honestly been the most seamless, easy transition I’ve ever made into a racecar,” he said, adding, “When you’re happy, and you’re having fun out there and you’re running well every week, it’s easy to have everyone on board and to fire out of the box strong and to have good finishes at the beginning. I feel like we all kind of jelled really quickly because of it.”

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XFINITY

Allgaier and Poole Make Peace with Talladega Finish

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Justin Allgaier didn’t want to concede defeat. Brennan Poole knew it was going to be close.

The two drivers waited five minutes for NASCAR to review the finish of the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway before determining neither one was the winner. Allgaier sat in his No. 7 Breyers Chevrolet on pit road, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of post-race teardown. Poole was parked at the finish line and staring down Elliott Sadler.

Although they came across the finish line side-by-side, officials ruled the caution was already out for the spinning Joey Logano and Sadler was awarded the win. Allgaier was credited with second while Poole rounded out the podium.

“After they told me they were waiting to see where the caution came out I knew it was going to come down to where we were at and I thought at that point it was going to be between (Poole and me),” Allgaier said. “I didn’t realize (Sadler) had stayed where he was at. The tape is the tape.

“I just watched the replay again, and it’s like, you could battle it out between he and I, we were inches apart, but obviously Elliott was ahead. It’s tough to lose one when it’s that close, but at the same time, it’s nice to know we had a shot at it, and we were up there battling. (NASCAR) got it right and for us it was a good points day, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Allgaier helped give JR Motorsports a 1-2 finish a week after team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Richmond. It was the third win overall for the organization.

In his first season with JRM and back full-time in the XFINITY Series since 2013, it hasn’t taken Allgaier long to get up to speed with the team and crew chief Jason Burdett. With seven top-10 finishes in nine starts, Allgaier sits fourth in points heading into the off weekend.

Believing his day is coming, Saturday was a little bit easier for Allgaier to swallow.

“We were joking yesterday at the autograph session that between the two of us we were going to finish 1-2, we just didn’t care which order,” Allgaier said of he and Sadler. “Obviously, it would have been nice to be in Victory Lane right now, but to come out of here with a second place finish, to have a shot at the win like we did, huge thank you to everybody back at the shop.

“It’s definitely been a lot of fun this year. We’re getting closer. “

Having had a fast car every weekend, Poole was thankful his No. 48 DC Solar team was able to put a complete race together. But coming that close to his first career victory “sucks.” Poole, however, was very upbeat afterward and was praised for how well he handled the situation. For Poole, that was a result of how much fun he had during the 300-mile event.

“I don’t know if it really got away because I don’t know if I quite had it. I was close all day but I never really was in the lead but for a brief moment,” Poole said. “So I don’t know if I’ll think it got away; I’ll just be excited for the next time I get to come back to Talladega and race again because I know we got a good piece.”

Saturday was not only Poole’s career-best finish it was his first top five in 26 XFINITY starts.

“As I was waiting there, one I was thinking hopefully the caution didn’t come out as early as I think it came out. I’m hoping we raced to the line,” Poole said. “At the same time, I’m thinking, well hopefully NASCAR gets it right. I want the guy who deserves to win the race be the winner and go by the rules.

“I can’t get mad about it or anything because it is what it is. I’m happy I got third out of the day when last year I didn’t get to finish the race.”

Logano was evaluated and released from the infield care center and credited with a 27th place finish.

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XFINITY

Allgaier Finding Success, Unity with JR Motorsports

Justin Allgaier is optimistic about his 2016 season – and he should be.

After eight races, the new JR Motorsports driver has collected two top fives and six top 10s in the No. 7 Chevrolet. Not only is Allgaier currently seventh in the NASCAR XFINITY Series point standings, but he is also fourth in driver rating, third in fastest laps run, and first in quality passes among series regulars.

Translation: ‘Little Gator’s’ still got it.

Allgaier is in a much different position than he was in the past two seasons when he drove for the underfunded HScott Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series. In two full years at the Cup level, Allgaier logged just one top 10 and had a disappointing average finish of 26.8.

While Allgaier knew his team was doing everything they could, it was simply time for a change.

“I loved the team that I was with; they worked their butts off to make sure that we built the best racecar we could have every week to go to the racetrack,” Allgaier said, adding, “Unfortunately, we didn’t have success; we didn’t have the speed on a regular basis that put us in a position to be competitive. We were a decent car, but we were never up there battling for wins and championships. As a competitive person and as a racer, that’s something I certainly wanted to get back to.”

That desire for victories and having a competitive ride led him to Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s organization. In 2014, JR Motorsports brought home the XFINITY Series championship and finished runner-up with Chase Elliott behind the wheel.

When Allgaier found out JRM was searching for a new driver, he took it upon himself to make his interest known. He called the partnership “a perfect storm.”

“When we found out JR Motorsports had an opening and was looking for somebody for the next season, we were trying to find out if I would even be a candidate, or if they would entertain the idea of putting me in a racecar,” Allgaier said, “It just worked out. Dale and I had a conversation in the back of a truck while riding around for driver intros one week — we qualified right next to each other — and that really got the ball rolling.”

His return to the XFINITY competition has been full of positives thus far, and Allgaier is impressed with his team’s ability to find a setup that works every weekend.

“One of the things we do really well is that we don’t deviate from standard,” Allgaier told POPULAR SPEED. “We’ve got a great baseline setup that we’ve run at all the racetracks this year. There’s a lot of crew chiefs and teams that are very ‘trick of the week’ oriented and want to come up with the latest, greatest setup that changes everything, and they do something totally different each and every week.”

For Allgaier, the familiarity with how his car will handle gives him peace of mind.

“From a driver standpoint, it’s hard to try something new every week. It’s important to me to go out on the track and know immediately what the car’s going to do off the truck,” Allgaier said.

That consistency has kept the No. 7 team in the hunt nearly every week. The driver is in awe with the amount of dedication his team has put in since they unloaded at Daytona International Speedway.

“One of the cool things for me is that the guys at JR Motorsports are obviously very talented at what they do. That was one of the goals when I came back [to XFINITY], to be with a solid race team,” Allgaier said. “From when we got on the racetrack at Daytona for the first race . . . I felt like they’ve given me 110-percent. They’ve put the best racecars that they can on the track, and it’s fun to go out there and drive it. It’s fun to go out there and know your car is going to be the way you want it.”

A lot of the success can be attributed to crew chief Jason Burdett. Their personal relationship — combined with Burdett’s leadership skills and racing mentality — unifies the entire team.

“Jason is a racer. He understands it. His son actually runs quarter-midgets, and I got to know them a little bit when I got a mini outlaw car that I was racing a few years ago,” Allgaier explained. “The other part of it is Jason is a great team leader. He’s one of those guys that goes out there every week and is completely focused on what it takes to go out and be competitive and run up front, but he’s also one of those guys with great leadership skills and helps everybody understand their job plays an integral part in what we’re doing.”

Despite the on-track speed they’ve shown, the No. 7 team is evidence that few partnerships come to fruition in the early stages. While running second in the late stages of the Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway, a crash relegated Allgaier to a 35th-place finish. Even with a “frustrating” ending, the team knows there are several things within their control that can guide them to victory lane.

“We’re working on our cars on a regular basis, going to the wind tunnel, going to the shaker rig, and working on the pull down,” Allgaier said. “Our team has a great relationship with Chevrolet, and they’ve done a great job trying to help us. It’s just a collective effort to try and make our program better. Like I said, we’re getting better and better every week. We’re doing that well, but there are still areas we have to make better.”

With his team working endlessly to build better cars, Allgaier believes he can shoulder more of the load as a driver.

“Probably one of the biggest things this season is pit stops. I can always do better on pit stops,” he said. “Another thing is just relaying information. As Jason and I work together more, I figure out what his terminology is and what he wants to hear, how I can explain things better and help him understand things better. If we can do that, we’ll obviously have a great relationship as we move forward.”

At the end of the day, Allgaier says it all came down to winning races, and ultimately, a championship. And while the team has experienced some growing pains, he is confident they’ll come out on top.

“We all jelled very well together right off the bat, and we went to the racetrack for the first time, and we were successful,” Allgaier said. “We haven’t deviated from that a whole lot. We’ve just gone out and done what we needed to do.”

EMAIL KRISTEN AT kristen.schneider@popularspeed.com

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Development Journalists

Strong Performance for JR Motorsports

JR Motorsports had a solid performance in the NASCAR Xfinity Series O’Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night.

All four of JRM’s entries finished under a blanket with Chase Elliott leading the way in fourth.

Elliott was in the No. 5 Tax Slayer Chevrolet for the first time this season.

Early in the race, Elliott was quiet on the radio. Towards the end of the race, his car was suffering from loose conditions.

Elliott made the most of his car, though, and held off team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Jr. made his first Xfinity Series appearance since Kentucky Speedway last July. Junior battled with tight and loose conditions throughout the night.

Early in the race, he told crew chief Dave Elenz that his car was too tight. Toward the end of the race, Earnhardt was dealing with loose conditions on longer runs.

Dale Jr held on to finish fifth in the No. 88 Chevy.

Justin Allgaier proved he had a strong car in the race. He started 23rd and worked his way up to seventh.

At lap 65, Allgaier went a lap down after making an unscheduled pit stop when he felt a vibration. On lap 77, he got back on the lead lap thanks to the free pass.

The driver of No. 7 Chevrolet made an impressive comeback and came home with a sixth-place finish.

Elliot Sadler also had a strong car in the race, overcoming a pit road penalty after starting 15th.

During pit stops around halfway, the crew lost control of a tire. Sadler had to serve a penalty and restarted in the rear, surrendering his fifth-place position.

Sadler bounced back to finish seventh.

Emily Spink is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist.

EMAIL EMILY AT emily.spink@popularspeed.com