By David Morgan, Associate Editor
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Sitting under the red flag in the waning laps of the penultimate race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season last weekend at Martinsville, Justin Allgaier had resigned himself to the fact that racing for a championship this season may not be in the cards for him and his No. 7 JR Motorsports team.
Giving himself only 5% odds of being able to get to the lead to punch his ticket to Phoenix, he overcame those staggering odds against him by beating Sheldon Creed to the finish line by a nose to win the race and secure himself another chance at fighting for a championship.
As Saturday’s season finale looms, Allgaier explained the he is hoping the way he won at Martinsville was only a prelude to finally being able to win the Xfinity Series title that has long alluded him.
“I’ve been more than blessed to be in this sport for as long as I have and driven some amazing race cars and had some amazing people around me. But I just feel like this year is different,” Allgaier said.
“Sitting under red flag at Martinsville truly was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me because I looked at the odds of making the final four. I gave myself a 5% chance. That’s actually probably being a little bit generous. To even have an opportunity to go for a championship here, I mean, it’s unbelievable.
“We got momentum on our side. We won at Martinsville. We’re doing all the right things. This is a great race track for us. I look at the spring, we had a fast race car. We won both stages…We ended up having a tire going down and got caught up in a wreck. That wasn’t even really our doing, but I think we had a shot at winning in the spring.
“So now you channel all that energy into coming in here for the fall, sky’s the limit. And I feel like we’ve got the team that can come in here and go do it. So, it would be a great addition. I’d love to add that my fire suit right below my, my logo. But if it doesn’t happen, it won’t be for lack of effort. I can promise you.”
Allgaier comes into Phoenix having won four times this year, with victories at Charlotte, Daytona, Bristol, and Martinsville – the most he has won in a season since 2018 and given his prowess at the one-mile desert oval, maybe, just maybe, this is finally his year.
In 26 starts on the one-mile oval, Allgaier has been victorious twice (2017, 2019), along with nine top-five finishes, 17 top-10 finishes, 544 laps led, and an average finish of 9.5.
“Anything here can and will happen,” Allgaier said. “I mean, this place is, I don’t even know how to explain it. It literally takes everything being perfect to walk out of here hoisting a trophy. We’ve done that a couple of times. I’ve led the most laps and been the fastest car here multiple times and haven’t done that.
“So, you know, we’ve got our work cut out for us. I look at the three other drivers that are going for a championship this week. Three incredible race car drivers and three incredible teams. So, you know, I have no doubt in my mind that, that we’re going to race each other a lot on Saturday. It’s gonna be a battle amongst the three of us for sure.”
“This is arguably one of the most competitive seasons I’ve felt like we’ve had in a long time. So, it’s gonna be a difficult battle, but I just feel like when we come here, I have this peace with this racetrack. I really have a lot of peace with how the year’s gone and where we’re at.
“I told somebody earlier, I’ve said it multiple times a day, you know, we’re kind of playing with house money, you know? When I sat on that red flag and I knew we didn’t have a shot at it. I think it changed my perception of this season and it’s all for the better, right? I feel like I come in here with a new invigoration to come and to be successful and to win races and it’s gonna be good.”