By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For Justin Allgaier, the superspeedways have been near misses this season.
Allgaier started the weekend at Daytona International Speedway ninth fastest in the weather shortened practice, and then qualified seventh for the race.
The JR Motorsports driver ran up front for the first run of the race, and was running well when the first caution flew. After the restart, the first big wreck of the race occurred directly in front of Allgaier, narrowly missing the spinning No.87 Toyota Camry of Joe Nemechek. Allgaier ended up with minor damage on the front valence of his No.7 TradeMark Nitrogen Chervolet Camaro, pitting shortly after the red flag for the clean up was lifted.
Allgaier, along JR Motorsports teammates Elliott Sadler and Chase Elliott, slowly worked their way back up through the field over the course of the next 30 laps. Just before the halfway point of the race, the caution waved yet again when points leader Daniel Suarez spun into the inside wall. Allgaier and his teammates elected to hit pit road, believing that they would now be in their fuel window to run the next 52 laps with ease.
After the restart, the trio initially began to work their way back up through the field. However, as the three-wide racing started to get hairy, they dropped back to ride in the rear of the draft. Not long after, the caution waved when Ryan Ellis cut a tire and spun.
As most of the field pitted, Allgaier stayed out, inheriting the second position.
On the restart, Allgaier fell back to sixth, where he would ride for most of the laps remaining. After a caution with under eight laps to go, the race went into overtime. On the hectic final restart, the top six cars were grouped in tandems, led by Aric Almirola, Allgaier, and Ryan Sieg respectively.
As the top six broke away on the final lap, chaos broke out behind as the second ‘big one’ occurred. NASCAR initially allowed the leaders to attempt to race back to the line, but was forced to throw the caution due to some of the impacts, just as the leaders exited turn four. After about five minutes of review, it was determined that Almirola was just barely in front of Allgaier when the caution lights came on, freezing the field.
After the race, a disappointed Allgaier was just happy that he could say that he finished second.
“I guess it just depends on what replay you look at, but we definitely had the momentum down the back there,” Allgaier said. “We had slowed down in the middle of three and four, but felt like we had it coming back again towards the start finish line. When you lose it by that little bit, it is definitely frustrating when you can be disappointed with second though.”
Allgaier was also quick to point out the positives as well,
“It’s still a good day. I can’t thank the guys back at the shop enough. They prepared an awesome car, obviously with (Chase) Elliott getting a win here in the spring, and Elliott (Sadler) getting a win at Talladega. We were second there too, so second’s definitely close. I told our guys before the race that this was the best TradeMark Nitrogen Chevy I’ve ever had, and it showed tonight. We got some damage early, and with a restrictor plate we were able to battle back.”
Allgaier now looks ahead to next weekend and the unknowns that the newly reconfigured Kentucky Speedway has to offer.