Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Justin Allgaier's Best Year Ever

2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Champion Justin Allgaier
credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs 

by Lisa Janine Cloud

NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season champion Justin Allgaier is having his best year ever.

On Tuesday, the 12 drivers who begin their battle for the Xfinity Series Championship this weekend at Richmond met at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Center to discuss the challenges that face them over the next seven races. Allgaier shared that while he's not taking anything for granted, especially after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff opener last week at Las Vegas saw many of the championship contenders have significant issues, the 32-year old from Riverton, Illinois, believes in his team.

“It’s taken me almost 10 years to win five races, and in this year alone we’ve won five. That’s ... that’s special. That doesn’t happen because I changed who I was. I didn’t all of a sudden learn how to drive at the start of 2018 and say, ‘Hey! Let’s go win lots of races.’ That’s not at all how it happened. Everything has clicked. Our 7 team especially, and JR Motorsports as a whole.”

Thus far in three seasons and 92 starts with JR Motorsports, Allgaier and his No. 7 team have seven wins, 38 top fives, and 65 top 10s, and he's led 1,104 laps. Special, indeed.

“I’ve always said you can pay people to do a job,” Allgaier said. “Whatever job it is, whether it’s vacuuming these floors, or we go out there and race around the racetrack. You can hire somebody to do that. But you can’t hire someone to have passion to do what they’re doing. And right now we have a group of guys that all have passion. They have the key ingredients to make it work, that is the drive and hunger to go do it. We’re doing our job together in harmony, and we’re executing, and that’s what makes the difference. It’s every piece of the puzzle that goes together, and it’s just been fun.”

Allgaier's helmet has encouraging words from daughter Harper
credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Allgaier, whose recent win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway gave him and his family the experience of a lifetime kissing the iconic yard of bricks, started racing at five years old because it was fun. He had always said that if he reached a point where he was no longer having fun, he would hang up his helmet and walk away. In late 2015 he was at that point. His Cup career wasn’t working out the way he wanted and he was planning his exit strategy. A chance conversation with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Darlington Raceway sparked a change in Allgaier’s outlook and altered the course of his career.

After qualifying next to the driver who is now his boss, Allgaier found himself riding in the back of a truck with Earnhardt Jr. prerace. Earnhardt told Allgaier that he believed the younger driver could succeed given the right circumstances.

“Everything that I thought I had needed someone to say, God just put it right in Dale’s mouth to say, and I heard everything I needed to hear,” said Allgaier.

 “Two weeks later we had a conversation with Dale again, with JR Motorsports, and probably less than a month later I was signed, sealed, delivered, ready to go racing with JR Motorsports.”

Tune in Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio when Allgaier and the rest of NASCAR Xfinity Series teams kick off the Playoffs in the GoBowling 250 at Richmond Raceway.

The 2018 Xfinity Series Championship contenders
credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs


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