3rd Place Xfinity Series Chase Finish Last Season Has Allgaier Eyeing A Legitimate Chance at Title
Coming off his most impressive season in NASCAR competition, Justin Allgaier has reason for being optimistic about his chances in 2017 to challenge for what would be his very first NASCAR driving championship.
Allgaier, in his first season with JR Motorsports after spending two seasons toiling in what is now called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, returned to Xfinity Series action in 2016. Justin made the most of the opportunity, earning one of the 12 spots in the very first Chase format in Xfinity Series competition that NASCAR imposed after successfully employing the playoff-styled system for several seasons in the Cup Series to determine its champion.
Allgaier kept on advancing through the Chase rounds and ended up as one of the four drivers eligible to compete for the title in the championship season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway along with fellow JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler. Justin hung tough in that finale, leading the race on two occasions and not allowing eventual winner and champion Daniel Suarez to get away as the final laps wore down.
Despite losing positions over the last three laps because of a slower car that failed to pit on the final round of pit stops and re-started the race directly in front of him on what to be the race’s final re-start, Allgaier still earned a highly respectable, 6th place finish that put him 3rd in overall driver points behind only runner-up Sadler and Daniel Suarez. Though he failed to win a race during the season, Justin was one of the circuit’s most aggressive performers and posted career highs in top five finishes with 13, top ten’s with 27, average starting position with an 8.7 and average finishing spot at 9.1. In the championship finale at Homestead, Allgaier put his #7 Brandt Agriculture Chevrolet out in front on several occasions in the championship finale and was a factor to win the race thanks to an exceptional and confident performance.
“The momentum we carried from the end of 2016 at Homestead is something that you can’t buy or manufacture, so I’m really looking forward to getting the season kicked off and getting ready to go to Daytona,” Allgaier said.
“There’s a lot of changes NASCAR’s made, whether it be with the enhancements or the aero changes. There’s a lot of new drivers, new teams, new cars, so I think that there’s a lot of unknowns leading into this season. I think that one of the beauties for us is that we have basically the same team that we had last year and we’ve got a lot of momentum on our side and we’ve got a great group of guys here at the shop that are working hard to make sure we’ve got cars that can go to the track each and every week and be fast and run upfront. Also, the addition of two new teammates that I feel like will bring a lot of excitement and a lot of energy to the team and a lot of knowledge. There’s a lot of things working in our favor and I’m looking forward to kicking it off for these first few races.”
Now in 2017, Allgaier will reunite with one of his former sponsors as the Northeastern Supply Company will commemorate its 24th consecutive season of NASCAR Xfinity Series associate team sponsorship by putting its financial support behind Justin after a season backing the efforts of teammate Sadler.
Northeastern last sponsored Allgaier in 2012 when Justin raced for Turner Motorsports. During that campaign, Allgaier posted his 3rd career and last Xfinity Series race win on the road course in Montreal and placed 6th in the final driver point standing. Overall that year, Justin posted a half dozen top 5’s and 19 top 10’s in 33 outings and led 168 of the 5,904 laps teams ran. It was then off to what is now called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for three seasons before coming back to the Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports.
But it was Justin’s efforts last season in his first for JR Motorports that really showed his potential and that of the race organization with JRM putting two of the four drivers into the championship finale at Homestead in the Xfinity Series’ first using what was the new Chase format to determine the champion.
“That race didn’t define our season. These guys at JR Motorsports did an amazing job all year long,” Justin said. “To come down (to Homestead) for that moment (finishing 6th and losing the championship) was so disappointing. But we all held our heads really high, that we were able to make the final four and to have the opportunity to race for the championship. It all shows that we have what it will take to challenge for the title again and I’m excited for what lies ahead for me and this race team,” Allgaier added.
The season opening PowerShares QQQ 300, NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the famed Daytona International Speedway is set for Saturday, February 25, and will air on the FOXSports 1 network beginning at 3:30 p.m.
NXS team haulers will enter the Speedway on Thursday, February 23, at 8:00 a.m. with Registration to open at 10:30 and the NXS Garage Area at 11:00. The first practice is set for Friday, February 24, at noon and will run to 12:55 p.m. The second and final practice will run from2:00 to 2:55 p.m.
Saturday’s race day activities will kick off at 10:30 a.m. with single car qualifying that will feature two rounds to determine the starting grid for the afternoon’s PowerShares QQQ 300 event. As a result of NASCAR’s major re-construction of the racing format for all three major touring series, the PowerShares QQQ 300 will feature three segments of competition with the first and second segments to run a designated number of laps to be determined before the event begins. The third and final segment will run to conclusion of the 120-lap test.
Points will be earned by drivers after each segment with the top 10 in the running order to receive championship points ranging from 10 down to 1 and with the winner to also receive 1 Playoff point. The Playoffs is the new name for the former Chase that all three major touring series ran for the first time last season. Following the third and final leg of each race this season, all drivers will receive points from 40 down to 1 and with the winner earning five Playoff points.
A select number if drivers highest in season points will earn berths in the first round of the elimination Playoffs with drivers to be eliminated following a certain number of races until there are four left to race for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. The driver leading in points following the final race before the Playoff competition begins will be crowned the regular season champion with the winner of the Playoffs to be crowned the overall titlist and to earn top money.