Photo courtesy of Jim Fluharty with Harold Hinson Photography.
When you think of comeback stories, it’s usually something like a football team coming back to win after being down by 28 points, an unlikely vote going to an underdog or an Olympics ‘miracle’ for a young American hockey team.
But for Justin Allgaier, he was the comeback story in the Alsco 300 by salvaging his Playoff hunt in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“I was getting a little flustered,” said Allgaier with NBC Sports during post-race interviews. “But these guys were right behind me to get me something to work with at the end.”
Despite starting third on the grid, the No. 7 JR Motorsports BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro quickly fell outside of the top 10 early in the race. The Playoff competitor collected zero points from the first stage, and only two points at the conclusion of the second stage. Allgaier shared some mental struggles of potential panic for the team’s evening going into the final stage.
“I felt like we were behind the 8-ball,” Allgaier shared.
During that stop, crew chief Jason Burdett elected to take a “big swing” at the setup of the car. For some setups, it can be intentional to have a weak car at the beginning of the race if weather is anticipated. The Xfinity race began in the day and ended at night under the lights, which has a huge effect on the handling of the race cars. Teams prepare in different ways depending on how they choose to approach the race or how the driver typically performs at that track.
For Allgaier, the early struggles meant a need for a big change as the track wasn’t coming to him quick enough. Allgaier was quick to recognize his team’s adjustments and fast changes to get him back toward the front for the valuable track position.
“The big swing is definitely a part of it,” Allgaier recognized his team’s work on adjusting the setup of the car. “When the sun did go away, we probably did go a little too far. The last set of tires were really good for us. I thought we might be in trouble on that last restart, but it ended up working out.”
From racing outside the top-15 early on, Allgaier fought and clawed his way back up toward the top five, which he hadn’t seen since the drop of the green flag. On the final restart, he was one of four JR Motorsports team cars inside the top five before Michael Annett was passed by Austin Cindric and Ryan Sieg in the closing laps. Allgaier swept both Richmond races before the regular season ended, and has continued to show strength early in the Playoffs. Although they couldn’t capture the checkered flag first, the strong performance by teammate Noah Gragson and the comeback battle of Allgaier proved the two are still in the hunt for the 2020 Xfinity Championship.
The next race is a strong circuit for the JR Motorsports race team. Xfinity Playoffs continue with the second race of the Round of 12 at Talladega Superspeedway in the Ag-Pro 300 on October 4 (4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).