FORT WORTH, Texas – Fate can be a strange turbulent timeline.
Even veteran athletes can only shrug and chuckle.
“Knowing that we’re locked into the next round makes today a little less frustrating.”
That was Justin Allgaier after a dominating performance at Texas Motor Speedway collapsed after a series of unfortunate events.
During the final stage of the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300, Allgaier battled for the lead before breaking loose on the outside. He was able to correct the car but lost significant distance to the new leader. The handling on his No. 7 JR Motorsports vehicle gave him ongoing signs of a more serious issue, so he elected to pit early to have his team address the issue and send him back out on track.
“We just got caught behind the 8 ball a little bit with the strategy because of whatever was going on there in Turn 1 and 2,” reflected Allgaier. “I felt like I was going to crash and it’s partially my fault. I should have just let it ride out. But we came and took tires and, ultimately, that was the difference maker today. I’m part of the effort. I can’t be disappointed in the effort that we put in. This car was phenomenal, and we’ll just have to go to the next one and try to do better.”
Then began the rollercoaster of emotions.
A timely caution during a pit stop cycle trapped most of the field a lap down. Allgaier was able to stay out longer and had inherited the lead by that time, giving him the overall lead. But a caution of his dreams became a horrid nightmare when another caution allowed the previous lead pack to line up right behind him.
Those cars had fresher tires, and all Allgaier could do was hold on.
A tight battle with Parker Kligerman almost ended in a crash as Kligerman dove into Turn 3. He overdrove the corner and skated up the banking, allowing eventual race winner John Hunter Nemechek through to his 7th win of the season.
“Sure, (we’re) going for the win at that point,” Allgaier shrugged about the final laps. “(Parker) obviously had a huge tire advantage over us; that was my biggest frustration. He drove it in there way deeper than he should have knowing what (the situation) was. I left him room. I felt like, if I watch the replay back, there’s at least a car in between the two of us getting down into (Turn 3) and I just felt like I knew as soon as I lifted, I knew he was going to turn to running the left rear, and at that point I couldn’t afford to get wrecked, right?
Once I got out of the groove, then it was just, ‘Hang on to it.’”
The biggest positive of the day for Allgaier was sweeping the stages for maximum mid-race points. Not only did he earn 20 regular season points but also two stage points that he will take with him through the rest of the NASCAR Xfinity Season Playoffs. His win last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway already locked him into the Round of 8, but while he was hoping for five more Playoff points, two still has great value for their championship efforts.
“We’ll find out more (with our Playoff position),” admitted Allgaier. “One of the things that I love about the points right now is the win at Bristol last week gave me those five bonus points. Today we got two bonus points. I don’t know that it’s going to be the difference maker for making the Round of 4, but man, I feel good.”
He should feel good. His chances are high at the time of the season when it counts. The upcoming race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL will see four drivers eliminated. He won’t be eliminated with his Bristol victory, but he looks for more of those right ways to put himself in a position to be in the Championship 4 at season’s end.
“When you can put yourself in position to make points like that week in and week out, you’re obviously doing all the right things.”