By: Ashley McCubbin
Since joining JR Motorsports in 2016, Justin Allgaier has been a threat to win the championship, with three finishes inside the top-five over the past four years. However, there is one thing missing – an actual title of his own.
Being able to secure a championship would certainly bring things full circle after returning to the NASCAR Xfinity Series due to a Cup Series attempt not going as strongly as he hoped. It’d be the perfect payoff for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt-Miller believing in his ability to bring leadership to the organization despite that.
“When I went Cup racing, it wasn’t the ideal situation,” he recalled. “That was a difficult time of my career and it wasn’t what I wanted, or anybody around me wanted. To be able to come here to JR Motorsports and have a home, it’s everything to me. These guys are like family to me and they’ve done a fantastic job and it’s just a great organization.
“I’d love to bring a championship back for them and they’ve done a few times since I’ve been at JR Motorsports, but it’s always been the 9 car. It’d be nice to hoist that number 7 up there and get one of those win banners with the championship on it for the 7 team.”
While this has not been his biggest season statistical wise in the win column, there are four reasons why this could be the year it happens for Allgaier.
Experience could play a big factor, as he’s the only driver in the Championship 4 that has been in this situation previously with the other three accomplishing the feat for the first time. While Allgaier has been involved in the series for 11 years, it marks just the second full-time campaign in the series for each of his competitors.
Being able to understand the situation on your shoulders and what is at stake, while staying even keeled under the pressure is sometimes more important than anything else on race day as you never know what will get thrown your way from the green to the checkered.
Speed has been there for Allgaier all year long, as evident by three victories, 10 top-five’s and pacing 932 laps this season. You could also easily admit that he could have had more wins under his belt this year if circumstances were different, whether contact with Noah Gragson at Bristol Motor Speedway, or mechanical issues.
Throughout the entire playoff run, he has ran up front in each of the events, securing as many stage points which played a role in allowing him to point his way into the Championship 4. There’s also the momentum of Martinsville as he finished second to Harrison Burton, too.
Phoenix Raceway has always been a strong place for Allgaier in the series, as he alluded to during his excitement heading into this weekend. Although he only has one win in the last five races in the desert, he has shown a lot of speed in pacing 281 laps to go along with a runner-up. It’s just about staying out of trouble and closing the door with it matters most.
Though one of the most interesting pieces of the puzzle is Allgaier is the lone car for JR Motorsports in the Championship 4, meaning the organization will be fully focused on him alone. He mentioned it himself – they know how to win championships. They were able to accomplish the feat with Chase Elliott, William Byron, and Tyler Reddick. In those seasons, it seemed Allgaier was lost in the shuffle with te focus on the young up-and-coming star.
Though now having all of their cards in one lone basket make a difference? Quite possibly, but we will just have to wait and see come Saturday.