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Xfinity Series Star Allgaier Wants To Return to Winning Road at Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard

When NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran Justin Allgaier edged then-JR Motorsports teammate Tyler Reddick by .092 of a second to win in 2018 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the closest Xfinity Series finish ever on the historic 2.5-mile oval, it immediately became the biggest win of his career.

Since age 12, Allgaier knew he wanted to be a professional race car driver in the top levels of NASCAR. As someone who has studied the ins and outs of racing for two decades, Allgaier knew winning at Indianapolis wrote a page of history for his career that no other racetrack could write.

“Probably the biggest race of my career, hands down,” Allgaier said. “To win at Indianapolis, a racetrack that, history-wise, there are very few racetracks that hold the weight of what Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds. To be able to win at Indy as so special. It probably is my biggest moment.”

The win brought back childhood memories for Allgaier, 34, and took him back to times that helped shape him into a professional race driver.

Back when Allgaier was a high school student in Riverton, Illinois, every Wednesday during the racing offseason he would cut short his final period of the day, when he served as a library aide. Allgaier and his family would jump in the family minivan and make the three-hour trek to IMS to take classes at the old Speedway Motel.

The classes, called “Speaking in Motorsports,” were designed to prepare teenagers for the public spotlight that being a professional race car driver could bring them. The objectives focused on public speaking, speaking on camera and how to properly handle an interview.

Allgaier, who by this point was a five-time quarter-midget champion, was serious about making a career out of racing. That success alone showed his parents the six hours of driving every week was worth it.

“It was really neat to have that come full circle and to think about all the hours we spent driving over there as a family and all the hours I did homework in the backseat of a minivan, and then to win at Indianapolis,” Allgaier said.

Allgaier, who drives the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, returned last year to defend his coveted Indianapolis win. He led 24 laps and stalked leader Kyle Busch late in the race. However, Allgaier didn’t have the momentum needed to pass Busch, and he had to settle for a close second-place finish in what he called “the most frustrating moment” of his career.

“We were so close to winning,” he said. “We had the best car. My teammate actually pushed Kyle out to the lead in front of me, and I couldn’t catch him to pass him back. It’s just really a cool racetrack and a special place for me.”

At the time, Allgaier was looking for his first win of 2019 to add to his accomplishment as being the winningest driver in JR Motorsports history. He scored his 11th career win, and eighth for team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., last November at Phoenix Raceway.

Allgaier’s win at Phoenix was his 16th straight top-10 finish, landing him a spot in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The weekend after the Phoenix win, Allgaier finished 14th and outside the top 10 for the first time since he finished 17th at Daytona International Speedway on Fourth of July weekend.

In the offseason, he was crowned the NASCAR Xfinity Series Most Popular Driver and entered 2020 with lots of momentum.

However, Allgaier and his No. 7 team haven’t show the same strong, consistent results this season, especially after NASCAR returned from its hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first two races back, Allgaier finished third at Darlington Raceway and fifth at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But since then, Allgaier has been struck with bad luck, including an 18th-place finish at Bristol and finishes of 32nd and 22nd at Homestead.

Allgaier is trying to remain positive about the 2020 season because he knows the performance is there. He has led 306 laps this season and is on pace to lead more than the 607 he was out front in 2019. He said it’s important he and his Chevrolet-powered team do not succumb to the pressure of correcting the bad results. They need to let the good results come to them.

“When you run well, and you’re running up front and then things don’t go the way you want them to, the more that happens the more you get beat down and the more you get frustrated, and then it’s the same old story,” he said. “You get behind, you want to try to dig yourself out of a whole and the worst thing you can do is try to go harder. I think that is really what it comes down to for us. You can’t dig any deeper, because you’re already maxed out, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

One place where Allgaier expects success to come back to him is at the Racing Capital of the World when the NASCAR Xfinity Series takes on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course Saturday, July 4 in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard (live on NBC).

Allgaier has a lot going for him as the Xfinity Series competes in the first stock car road course race at Indianapolis, which is part of the first NASCAR-INDYCAR tripleheader weekend.

Allgaier is in his 10th full-time Xfinity Series season, and his fifth at JR Motorsports, making him one of the most experienced drivers in the field. Plus, he is an accomplished road course racer, with three of his 11 career wins coming at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America.

“I think because it’s new, because of the success we’ve had on road courses, and because there’s a lot of new drivers that are in our sport that maybe don’t have the experience, I think that we’ve got a great opportunity to go there and have success,” Allgaier said. “I think for the most part there’s a lot of unknowns, and having good technique is going to be important.”

Plus, Allgaier’s passion for racing history and IMS give him extra motivation heading into the race next month. Not since the first Xfinity Series race in 2012 have that series’ drivers had the opportunity to go down as the “first” at the most historic racetrack in North America, and Allgaier wants to make a historical mark as the first NASCAR road course winner at IMS.

“Everybody wants to win at all tracks, but when you’re doing something different, it’s like when we ran Indianapolis for the first time, everybody wanted to win that race because it was the first one, and it’s no different this time around,” he said. “Everybody’s going to want to win the first one, and I think that there’s a lot of guys that are going to be gunning for it. We’re going to have to go there and do the best job we can.”

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