By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Justin Allgaier’s demoralizing NASCAR Xfinity Series season takes another steep hit after a mechanical failure led to a cut right front tire resulted in a 30th place finish during Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.
Not only Allgaier’s second DNF damaged his bid of turning his year around, but also his armored spirit as the 2010 Bristol winner couldn’t believe his No. 7 Armour Vienna Sausage Chevrolet Camaro all of sudden gave up when it appeared he was going to score his 11th Xfinity Series victory after leading 138 of 300 laps, his first laps led all season.
“It might have something to do with the right front,” said Allgaier. “It’s just a shame because we had such a fast car.”
Before Allgaier’s afternoon turned into a nightmare, it appeared the 32-year-old’s season hit its peak when he took his turn at the front due to another team’s botch. With two laps left on the opening stage, Allgaier was battling with outside pole sitter Tyler Reddick when the latter’s spotter Derek Kneeland miscalculated the lap count and told Reddick that with one lap remaining, it was the end of the stage, and slowed down.
The error gave Allagier the race lead and pulled away with ease and gained 10 stage points, and that all-important playoff point to his name.
Once Allgaier took the race lead, he proved that his stage win wasn’t a fluke, and made it his race to lose after being the class of the field in Stage 2. No one had the true speed to pass the determined veteran, and with help from his spotter Eddie D’Hondt, it was cruise control for him to gain another 10 stage points and playoff point.
The second stage ended under caution after Jeremy Clements spun in Turn 1. That’s when Allgaier told his team over the radio that his car was beginning to get tight the last few laps compared to the start where he felt his No. 7 Camaro ran really well. Adjustments were made and the crew got him out in first to kickoff the final stage.
Allgaier continued leading the race until Christopher Bell used the crossover move to take the lead with 75 laps to go. Not only he lost the lead, he lost second to Reddick and suddenly, reported his engine was beginning to fade. That changed into possible brake problems and heading into Turn 2 with 72 laps remaining, his right front tire cut down and scrapped the wall.
Beyond frustrated, Allgaier yelled over that both his motor and brakes were gone, and that his team better get it together after once again not finishing inside the top-10 for the fourth time in the last five races.
As he brought his wounded car into the garage, the emotions kicked in for Allgaier, tossing his steering wheel when he got out of his car, and stormed into his hauler.
Once cooled off, Allgaier said he noticed that Bell caught him a lot easier than he should until problems kicked in, which now puts the man sixth in points in a 60-point deficit over points leader Reddick after seven races.
“I thought we did everything right in those first two stages,” said Allgaier. “A few laps before things started to go haywire, I noticed that Christopher was able to kind of catch me down the straightaways a lot more than I thought he should be able to. All of a sudden, it just started smoking and we lost power. From there, the rest was history. It’s a disappointing start to the season.”