LOUDON, N.H. – In a series full of constant change and fluctuation, Justin Allgaier entered Saturday’s (July 15) Ambetter Health 200 as the only former NASCAR Xfinity Series winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the field.
He finished sixth on Saturday, but what could’ve been a winning day for the No. 7 team failed to materialize.
“Felt like we gave one away,” Allgaier said post-race.
As the defending New Hampshire winner, he looked just the part in the opening laps, as he took the lead on the second lap after starting fourth. He only lost the lead when John Hunter Nemechek gave him a bump on lap 9, and Allgaier was right back to the lead on lap 27.
“Our BRANDT Fresh Agriculture Camaro had really good speed, that’s obviously a good start,” Allgaier continued. “… Definitely just minding our own there with the No. 20, he had to get to my bumper and move me to get by me, even when we were just kind of riding.
“And then we were able to drive right back by him and take the lead back. I felt our car was really, really good.”
Allgaier cruised to a win in the first stage, but the first round of pit stops ultimately proved to be the beginning of the end for the No. 7 team’s bid for back-to-back wins at The Magic Mile.
Originally planning on a four-tire call after stage one, Allgaier overshot his pit box and had to back the car up. Quick thinking by the No. 7 team minimized the damage, as they converted to a two-tire pit stop that made Allgaier the second car off of pit road.
It all proved to be for naught, as NASCAR penalized the No. 7 team for pitting outside the box.
“Obviously slid long on the box and got a call against us, even though we backed up and got back in the box,” Allgaier said. “And then from there, just gritted it out.”
Even heavy damage sustained in a lap 71 restart crash was unable to damper Allgaier’s comeback, but the crippled No. 7 car was unable to attain the speed it had at the start of the race; Allgaier ultimately brought the car home in sixth after 206 laps.
A solid comeback indeed, but Allgaier was not happy about the penalty.
“Pretty frustrated, pretty aggravated. You know, I asked for a clarification [on the penalty] in the hauler, and I hope I can get that when the race is over. Right now, this is like the fourth time they keep giving spots away and it always seems to fall on us.
Allgaier also took issue with the scoring loops and how NASCAR set the restart lineups at the end of the race, feeling that he should’ve been higher up the running order prior to the final restart.
“Really aggravated with how the race ended there and the calls on some of the timing lines,” Allgaier said. “I just – you work your guts out all day to get back up there and just all to have it taken away for no reason.
Allgaier did acknowledge the impressive return to the front of the field, but he made his frustration with the sanctioning body crystal clear.
“No, I mean, yeah, there’s a lot of hope and promise in the rebound, but just aggravated. We had a solid top-five car then drove back into the top five for nothing. Really, really disappointing on their part.”
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.