The Frontstretch: Justin Allgaier Driver Diary: Leading the Points, Crew Chiefing and Pink Icing by Justin Allgaier -- Friday May 31, 2013

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Justin Allgaier has been very busy over the last couple of months, so much so that he missed a couple of his weeks of updating his driver diary. He’s back this week and has a lot of exciting information to share with everyone.

Hello everyone, I’m sorry I’ve missed updating you about the exciting year we’re having at Turner Scott Motorsports. There has been so much going on, I want to catch all of you up on it.

We went into Bristol with a share of the points lead. This year has been a lot of fun and we started out the year with some really strong runs that had us in position to be leading the points with a head of steam as we went into Bristol. To be at that point is great. You always want to be there at the end of the year but to make it to that spot at some point during the year you know you’re doing your job at that point. It is always good to be able to say, “P1, that’s me”.

Justin Allgaier found himself at the top of the Nationwide point standings for the first time in his career this year. He also found himself on top of a pit box for the first time ever as an ARCA crew chief.

This is the first time I have ever led the points in the Nationwide Series. I did win the title in the ARCA series years back but that was a different situation than this year. In the ARCA title year, we were 115 points out of the lead and it was pretty much over unless the stars aligned perfectly and then they did, so that one was a bit of a surprise. This year, being in the lead of the Nationwide points is due to a strong start to the year even though we had a lot of things stacked against us. We came into the season with a new crew chief, a new Camaro, a bunch of new crew members and just a lot of things stacked against us and yet we battled the odds and ended up on our A-game out of the gate, leading races, running up front and that’s how we led the points. That scenario allowed our team to immediately grow together and bond. We developed great chemistry right off the bat which is easy to do when you’re running well and helps you keep all of the people around you positive. If you start off poorly, it is hard to develop that relationship across the board. That was the biggest advantage to being up front. We were all really high on each other and it helped the relationship between crew chief, driver and team all grow really quickly.

A real bonus of that chemistry has been the relationship with Scott Zipadelli. The last couple of years working with Jimmy Elledge were awesome. Jimmy and I get along great, almost too great. We are really too much alike in all of the things that we are interested in and our personalities. I’m a little scatterbrained sometimes and the structure that we’ve added this year, in the way Scott works and the team works with everybody at Turner Scott Motorsports. We’ve really buckled down this year and a lot of things have changed internally. I feel like that has been part of my health and this is the structure that I needed and the guidance I needed to take the next step in my career. It is a really good relationship. Scott has been around the Nationwide garage for a long time. He was actually at Turner when it was Braun, before it changed to Turner. I’ve gotten to know him over the years, but to finally work with him and to see his style, he is definitely smart and when we leave the shop we know the cars are going in a good direction. We feel like the cars are really good whenever we unload and that is always encouraging when you have that feeling with your crew chief.

From a race perspective, we’re feeling pretty positive about the fact we’ve had top 11s all year except for the one race when we were crashed out. While that is a good record and encouraging, we don’t have a mark in the win column. Even though Kyle Busch has the majority of the wins, it would be good to be up there with him, competing for those wins, and knowing you have a car capable of that. We’re just a little off of that right now. We won the pole at Bristol, which was awesome. We had a really strong car at Richmond before we got crashed. I know we have speed, we just need to refine it a little bit and make it more consistent. If we can do that, I think we’ll make a valid run at the championship at the end of the year. Right now we are just a little short of where we need to be to be winning races on a regular basis.

The last time I wrote to you we’d been running the Modified in Florida. Since then, I have not had an opportunity to do it again. With all of the scheduling involved with running in the Nationwide Series and the weather that has been plaguing the Midwest, where I normally would run it, I’m not much different from the folks up there who are trying to run them all of the time. I have been running the go-kart at the Mooresville Motorplex and trying to stay in shape with that. It is pretty physically demanding so I do get a workout with that. Right now the Motorplex is doing a five week league deal with a championship at the end of it. For me it has been fun because I’m definitely not a go-karter, nor am I good at it, but I have a lot of fun and I’m able to go up there and race against some of the guys that I race against all of the time. Guys like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Scott Speed or Kasey Kahne are there from time to time and then there are also guys like Ryan Briscoe, Max Papis and Tyler Cook. It is a cool place that offers a melting pot of racers. Colin Braun has even been out there running sometimes. It is a cool place where you get to run against guys like that and other guys who aren’t professional racers but are still good drivers. I started out with a kart that Scott Speed helped me dial in and now it has been up to me to learn how to race it. I’m not crew chief on a go-kart but I do enjoy making myself go faster. Unfortunately that is all of the extracurricular racing I’ve been doing.

Speaking of crew chiefing, I got to have my first experience on the top of the pit box for someone else at the ARCA race in Toledo a couple of weeks ago. Kelly Kovski is the regular crew chief on the car for Allgaier Motorsports, but this weekend he was driving and I was crew chiefing. It was a cool experience but it was very nerve wracking. I’m very used to looking to my crew chief for leadership and advice on when I’m going to pit and all of that strategy and this time I had to make those decisions. We finished the race in ninth so I got a top 10 in my first crew chief role. The team had the car really close by the time I got there so I didn’t have to do too much to make sure they got a good finish. It was a lot of fun and I have a whole new respect for the guys who sit on the box and I really don’t want to do it too many more times. I had to help guide the car through the technical inspections, although Jonathan Hanson is the car chief, along with my brother-in-law, and he already had everything in line so there wasn’t much for me to do. I did have to bone up on the rules because they are a little different from NASCAR. I was supposed to make the car faster during practice and the race and make the race calls. That was definitely fun. One thing I will say to race fans, there is a TON of stuff that goes on during a race weekend that fans don’t realize happens. The officials and participants put in some very long days to put on the show for the fans.

Now, away from the track, when I last wrote to you, Ashley and I did not know the sex of our baby. We were very split on that. I did not want to know at all and she wanted to know badly. As a result, since she really wanted to find out, we agreed to have a party so that all of our friends and family could find out at the same time. So, the doctors’ office put the results of the ultrasound in an envelope for our friends so they could set up the party and come up with a way for us to find out. The bad thing for me was I saw the ultrasound technician write on the screen what the sex was, so I had to keep it to myself for a week. The next seven days Ashley tried everything to get me to spill the beans but I kept it to myself. When we had the party our friends baked a cake with colored icing in the middle that was colored based on the sex of the baby and that is how we found out. We cut the cake and pink icing came out, so we know we’re going to have a girl. That has started an unreal frenzy between clothes coming out for summer, trying to decide on a name, and a pile of clothes have been acquired for next summer.

As for the name, when we knew we were going to have a baby, we already knew the middle names. If it was going to be a boy it was going to be Lee which was my father and grandfather’s middle name. If it was going to be a girl it was going to be Grace. So, now that we know it is a girl it will be Grace for the middle name. With the frenzy of pregnancy swirling around, Ashley started getting more and more active on Pinterest. I’m not a Pinterest person but the ladies go kind of insane on there and Ashley had been actively tagging rooms and designs on there once she found out about having a baby. We went back through them and there was a name on the wall of the very first room she had tagged when she started and the name was Harper. We sat on it for a few days and Ashley was talking to a friend that had been in our wedding and she said she’d been talking with another friend of ours and they both think we should name the baby Harper Grace. Ashley made sure they hadn’t been talking to me and, when she assured her she hadn’t that is what we have for a name. Now we get to go through the next few weeks to the point where it isn’t a name for a belly but is actually a name for a little person, and we’re very excited to go through that process.

I have to say, we have such fantastic family and friends and fans, that it is simply indescribable. We are going to have a baby shower back in Illinois and one in North Carolina and our friends and family are taking care of planning all of that, even if that is really hard on Ashley to give up that control. It is amazing to see the amount of support and encouragement we get from not only family and friends, but fans. We’ve received several gifts from fans of ours who just want to give something to baby Harper. NASCAR is a sport that allows us to have relationships with fans and it is just so cool to know you have people out there who care and want to be a part of our child’s life. That means so much to both Ashley and myself, we just feel so blessed.

The race week at Charlotte had a full day of testing at the big track on Wednesday. Then ran over to the Mooresville Motorplex to run for $5,000 to win. That same night they had a big show at Millbridge Speedway. I was bummed I couldn’t be there to run their show because I’ve run there quite a bit in the past few years and I hated to miss that show. It was a great week to be home and racing.

Allgaier finished in seventh place in the History 300. He battled a car that never hit the sweet spot all night long. It was either a little to tight or a little too loose. In the end, a seventh place finish was the kind of thing that championships can be made of. The finish puts Allgaier 40 points out of the lead in the season standings and in third place with over half of the season to go.

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