Race Weekend Central

Xfinity Breakdown: Justin Allgaier Wins a Marathon in Charlotte

The Alsco 300 was supposed to run on Saturday (May 27) but finally ended around 11:30 p.m. ET on Memorial Day (May 29). Rain and scheduling conflicts caused the race to begin on Monday morning. After two red flags for rain and just 49 laps run, the decision was made to again postpone the race until after the Coca-Cola 600 on Monday evening.

Several contenders endured setbacks that didn’t end their day but required them to drive through the field or press on with wounded cars. In the end, it came down to survival and fuel mileage. Most lead lap drivers elected to pit during the final long green flag run. Justin Allgaier and John Hunter Nemechek saved fuel and stayed out.

Nemechek took the lead with 37 to go, but three laps later, Allgaier retook the lead. From there, both drivers had to save fuel but Allgaier built a seven-second lead. This was Allgaier’s, and perhaps more surprisingly, JR Motorsports’ first win of the season.

See also
Justin Allgaier Brings JR Motorsports its 1st Win of 2023

The Winners

Allgaier won the pole on Friday (May 26), which seems like a month ago. Early in the race, he took a backseat to a duel between Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Ty Gibbs and Nemechek. Allgaier finished third in both stages. Radio issues for Gibbs sent him to the back of the field, and Allgaier ultimately beat Nemechek heads up on speed and fuel mileage. Despite coming into the event winless, he’d already racked up eight top 10s in the first 11 events. With this win, he’s punched his ticket to the playoffs, as if there was any doubt.

When you finish second and it’s a disappointment, you’re in a pretty good spot. Nemechek is left to wonder what could’ve been had he not damaged the right front after scrubbing the wall early. Even with the damage and some slow pit stops for repairs, he led the race with 35 laps to go. But his team repeatedly radioed him to save more fuel, causing him to lose the lead and fall out of contention. He has two wins in the bank and has finished in the top 10 in all but two races this year.

Cole Custer was one of the contenders who had to come from the rear of the field. Despite his fourth-place qualifying effort, he started the second stage from the rear of the field. He proceeded to put on a show in the top lane, driving through the field. After the race, he told Frontstretch he had nothing for Allgaier or Nemechek, so he decided to save fuel aggressively. He brought it home in third for the third time this season, his best finish so far in 2023.

Custer was pegged by many as a championship favorite coming into the season. He struggled through the first six races and found himself buried in the standings in 12th. Since then? Five top fives in six races with a worst finish of seventh. Watch out for the custard man, he’s finding his groove.

Austin Hill elected to zig when the leaders zagged. He wasn’t going to be able to beat Allgaier or Nemechek heads up, so with about 20 laps to go he brought his car into the pits for four tires and fuel. From there it was a blast up the scoring pylon as others pitted or saved fuel. In the end, Hill finished fourth.

Another beneficiary of the fuel strategy was Parker Retzlaff. The rookie from Wisconsin came in and topped off before the final restart. This gave his Jordan Anderson Racing team confidence that he could make it to the end. He had been running around 15th place most of the day, but as several others pitted for fuel, he moved up, eventually finishing sixth. This was Retzlaff’s best finish since the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Jeb Burton was passed by his JAR teammate Retzlaff on the final lap but still managed to finish seventh. He’s already most likely in the playoffs thanks to his win at Talladega Superspeedway and this was his second top 10 of the season.

Kyle Sieg came oh so close to getting his first top 10 of the season. The 22-year-old from Tucker, Ga. finished 11th. It was his third top 15 finish of the season and the third time he’s beaten his older brother Ryan Sieg.

Justin Haley had an underwhelming race, finishing 12th, but he ran more miles than any other driver in the Xfinity and Cup Series double. Haley completed all but one lap, good for 898.5 miles of racing in one day. Somebody get this man a cold beverage! For the record, Gibbs completed just one lap less, after his promising run got spoiled in the Coca-Cola 600, through no fault of his own.

Losers

Expectations were high coming into the season for Parker Kligerman. The Big Machine Racing team improved steadily throughout 2022 and even made it to victory lane with Tyler Reddick. It’s been a bumpy ride this season and Charlotte saw that trend continue. Kligerman had a mechanical issue on lap 97 that put him behind the wall. He eventually re-joined the race, but still finished dead last (38th). Kligerman has now finished last in two of the last three races and finds himself on the wrong side of the playoff bubble.

Last season, Sam Mayer sat on the pole and finished third in this race. During qualifying he expressed his confidence in the car. With his teammate on the pole this time around, Mayer could’ve been a sexy longshot pick to win. But it wasn’t to be. On lap 127 he spun coming out of turn 2 and hit the inside wall, doing moderate damage. He was able to continue but finished seven laps down in 35th.

Sheldon Creed earned some points with fifth-place finishes in each stage. He seemed poised to finish in the top five or maybe even compete for the win. On lap 132 it all unraveled, as he made contact with Josh Berry on pit road and sustained significant right-front damage. He soldiered on, wounded, and finished three laps down in 28th.

Ryan Ellis finished 27th, driving for Alpha Prime Racing. The 33-year-old has been very entertaining on social media and has driven some of the best-looking cars this season. We’ve featured several of them here in the scheme of the week section. During the Coca-Cola 600, it was announced that Dylan Lupton will be driving this entry at Portland International Raceway and Sonoma Raceway. As usual, Ellis reacted to the news in an entertaining fashion.

See also
Dylan Lupton Joins Alpha Prime Racing for 2 Races

Former Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric is another driver near the playoff bubble who needed a good run. On lap 63, he made an unscheduled pit stop due to a loose wheel. He spent the rest of the race trying to get back into contention and had to settle for 22nd.

Scheme of the Week

Sam Hunt Racing, Kaz Grala and Fire Dept. Coffee rolled out a banger in Charlotte. Patriotic schemes are all over the place and rightfully so for this Memorial Day weekend. Most of those schemes feature the familiar red, white and blue. Nothing wrong with sticking with tradition but this unique patriotic scheme was the highlight.

That gloss teal stood out on the track, and the shellback theme is such a cool way to give tribute to the US Navy. ‘Shellback’ is a term in the Navy given to those sailors who have crossed the equator. Appropriately, this particular blend of Fire Dept. Coffee is heralded as being grown near the equator. Major props to all involved in putting this one together. Grala finished 16th.

Where to Next?

It will be a quick turnaround and a logistical challenge for the circuit following the postponement to Monday evening for rain in Charlotte. We’re headed west, to Portland for the Pacific Office Automation 147.

Last year AJ Allmendinger scored the win in this race. He put on one of his patented performances where adversity struck, with multiple spins sending him to the back of the field. Still, he drove up to the front and won the race in impressive fashion. In place of Allmendinger in the Kaulig Racing No. 10 Chevrolet will be Jordan Taylor in his series debut.

It all gets started on Saturday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1 along with the Performance Racing Network.

About the author

Steve Leffew joined Frontstretch in 2023, and covers the Xfinity Series. He resides in Wisconsin and has been a NASCAR fan as long as he can remember. He has served honorably in the United States Air Force and works during the week as a Real Estate Lender.

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