By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Justin Allgaier’s strong start to the young NASCAR Xfinity Series season was halted after failing to finish Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway due to an engine failure past halfway, forcing him to bring his No. 7 Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet Camaro to the garage after 119 laps, and ended his streak of three straight top-fives at the 1.5-mile circuit.
Allgaier had worked his way from restarting 11th to start off the final stage to the fifth spot until reporting to his No. 7 team that he was down a cylinder with 83 laps remaining and was instructed by crew chief Jason Burdett to ride it out.
The plan didn’t last and his car began smoking, to the point of no return and ended up 31st. It marked Allgaier’s first DNF at Las Vegas after finishing no worse than 15th back in 2013.
Once he got out of his car, Allgaier said he hopes the team finds the diagnosis of his engine failure after speculating that something went awry, which is uncommon for JR Motorsports.
“Unfortunately, I’m not sure exactly what happened but I think something broke inside the engine,” said Allgaier. “That’s a shame because everybody at the Hendrick engine shop works really hard. We have very few failures, so hopefully we got enough parts there we can diagnose what happened, and I know those guys will be on top of it. I just hate it for everybody.”
After finishing second at the season opener at Daytona and third last Saturday at Atlanta, Allgaier will take a hit in the championship standings. Not only that, Vegas is one of Allgaier’s strongest tracks, with an 6.4 average finish and scoring eight top-10s in nine previous starts.
Allgaier felt that while he didn’t have the strongest car to compete with the likes of Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell, he had a car capable of extending his top-five streak after finishing seventh and sixth in the opening stages.
“We weren’t quite as good as what we needed to be to contend for the win, but we had a solid top-five car,” Allgaier explained. “Now we just don’t have anything to show for.”