By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
A simple mistake forced Justin Allgaier to storm through the field for a runner-up finish in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
When the NASCAR Xfinity Series race restarted on lap 79, Allgaier’s No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro SS took the lead from Chandler Smith. However, the advantage that the JR Motorsports driver gained was short-lived. NASCAR officials penalized Allgaier for a restart-violation.
Coming to take the green flag, Allgaier turned down below the white line and onto the apron of the track. The failure to maintain his line resulted in a pass-thru penalty on pit road. Luckily with the end of the Stage closing in Allgaier remained on the lead lap.
“A driver mistake put us behind, and you have to rally,” Allgaier admitted. “It was nice to be able to pass a lot of cars, but I wish we could have had that track position and kept that clean air.”
This was not the first time that Allgaier has been penalized for turning onto the apron before the start-finish line. The 36-year-old made the same mistake in the 2021 season finale at Phoenix Raceway. This time he had more time to recover.
Shortly after the start of the final Stage of the 300-mile race Allgaier had already re-entered the top-15. The Riverton, IL native needed less than 10 laps to move inside the top-10. The progress slowed after the halfway mark of the race as Allgaier faced tougher challenges.
He picked off the competition one by one, taking second from Austin Hill with about 60 laps to go. During green flag pit stops Allgaier slipped to fourth. He spent much of the early run saving fuel.
Once he and Hill had enough fuel the duo chased down race leader Smith. Coming to the white flag both drivers snuck by the Kaulig Racing driver. Despite the momentum, Allgaier ran out of time to make a race-winning move of his own, and took the checkered flag in second.
“You never really know what’s going to happen at the end,” Allgaier said. “We saved some fuel at the beginning of the run. I felt like that was the difference maker at the end. We had some tire left over but we just needed a little bit more time, a few more laps. Proud of the team, we brought a great car.
“I was moving around a little bit [the last few laps], trying to see if someone would be better. We watched all of the information from last week and I started moving and actually lost time. I knew at the end of the race there the goal was to lose as little time as possible, but we ran out of laps and track position with lapped cars was really, really difficult today.”
Though he didn’t earn any points in the second Stage, Allgaier did finish runner-up in Stage 1. That netted the veteran an additional nine points.
The second-place finish was Allgaier’s third top-five this season and his fifth consecutive top-five finish and eighth consecutive top-10 dating back to last season. It’s also his 131st top-five in his Xfinity Series career.
Next for Allgaier is the final leg of the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ ‘West Coast Swing,’ the United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, March 11 at 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Radio, Channel 90.
It’s a race that his former teammate, Noah Gragson, won last year. Allgaier has two wins at the 1-mile track as well.