DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.- Justin Allgaier had been here before.
“Too many times,” in fact.
A superspeedway race.
A last-lap caution and lots of confusion.
Then, a waiting game.
It happened to Allgaier twice in 2016, at Talladega Superspeedway and then later in the year at Daytona International Speedway.
For at least five minutes Saturday night (Feb. 18), Allgaier sat in his No. 7 Chevrolet near the entrance of Daytona’s pit road.
The trio of JR Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing drivers waited to learn which one of them had won Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener.
A last-lap crash in overtime – which saw Sam Mayer flip on his roof on the backstretch after contact with Allgaier – had sent the three drivers into a mad dash for the lead before the caution lights came on.
Instead of earning his first career superspeedway win, Allgaier finished third behind Hill and Nemechek.
“Normally the caution light is too early, now it was too late when it bit me,” Allgaier told reporters on pit road. “That’s just how the nature of the beast is.”
Unlike those coulda, woulda, shoulda races seven years ago, Allgaier was content with this outcome.
“I know that you’re trying to do everything you can to get the race to finish under green,” Allgaier said. “They made the right call, ultimately, with (Mayer) going upside down. My hope was if it was about 30 feet earlier, I think we win the race.”
Allgaier ended the night 0-for-42 in his Xfinity career on superspeedway tracks.
Likely making Saturday night’s result sting more – after he led 36 of 125 laps – was that Allgaier believed he was driving his “best superspeedway car, for sure.”
“I made all the moves that I thought were right, they’re not all perfect,” Allgaier said. “You’re only as good as your mistakes. Tonight we made too many and I made too many, I’m not gonna say the team, because the team did fantastic.”
One of Allgaier’s mistakes occurred on lap 42. When Sheldon Creed wrecked ahead of him on the frontstretch, Allgaier attempted to check up, only for him to go into a spin.
After his crew made minor body repairs, Allgaier returned to the track. By lap 54, he was leading again. Six laps later, he won the second stage.
“I’m not gonna say it was with ease, but I probably was a little more aggressive on some of those (moves) than I’d like to have been,” Allgaier said. “Proud of the team and where we got to and winning that stage. That was a big deal for us.
Allgaier attributed his aggressive race in part to NASCAR’s recent body changes in the Xfinity Series.
“They really narrowed up the windows a lot,” Allgaier said. “I’m not going to say it made the car easier to drive, but it made the car more comfortable to drive. So you were able to kind of able to make some maneuvers that you wouldn’t have been able to maneuver in the past.”
About the author
Daniel McFadin is a 10-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He currently works full time for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is lead reporter and an editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR podcast "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" presented by Democrat-Gazette.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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