Justin Allgaier is about to embark on the next phase of his racing career as he climbs behind the wheel of the HScott Motorsports No. 51 for the Daytona 500. Allgaier’s life is most assuredly on an upswing as he has not only realized a lifelong dream of competing at the highest level of American motorsports, but he has also become a father. With the 500 fast approaching Allgaier took a few minutes to sit down with Frontstretch to talk about this chance, the big rookie class, running his Dirt Modified and his first Christmas as a dad.
Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com: You are about to run your first race as a full-time driver at the top of the NASCAR ranks. What did you do to get ready for your debut in the Cup series?
Justin Allgaier embarks on the newest journey in his NASCAR career as a full-time Sprint Cup Series driver for HScott Motorsports.
Justin Allgaier: I think the biggest thing was just trying to get everything figured out on the schedule side of things. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, our deal came down to the end and really came down late before we really got signed so I didn’t have a lot of time to stress about it after we got it done. I’m excited about the direction of this HScott Motorsports team and where this 51 team is headed. That takes a lot of the pressure off of me because I know we have a good group of guys around me. Steve Addington has done a great job of putting people in place that are very good at what they do and get along with everyone very well. Just getting into the nuts and bolts of the season and figuring out what the schedule changes are going to be like at the different race tracks that we go to is going to be different but will be fun at the same time.
Neff: You have been tied in with the Brandts for a long time. It is neat that they’ve decided to come along with you on this journey. What kind of a decision was it for them because stepping up to the Cup series is a significant change in commitment.
Allgaier: It has been super cool to have a company from Central Illinois, just a few minutes outside of Springfield same as me. To have that hometown relationship and have them be a part of this organization and my racing career over the last few years has been awesome. I love representing them and their brand, their customers and their employees. For them to make the move up to the Cup level with me is huge and I am loving the fact that they are committed to doing it with me. I’m excited about the direction where their company is headed and I hope this move is going to be beneficial to them as well. They are growing internationally as much as they are nationally and the Cup series has a more global reach, just in terms of outreach, so that should help them as much as anything. It is going to be fun.
Neff: You’ve always been a good qualifier. Now that we’ve mixed up the whole deal of how this is going to work, do you look forward to the challenge of the new style or did you like the old version where you go out and burn off a quick lap and be done?
Allgaier: I would say, for me, I would rather have it the way it is now, especially for me being a rookie. Not having the experience and knowing exactly how hard you can push these cars. Having a second or third lap will definitely be an advantage. You definitely get to have a Mulligan if you will. Not all of the time, you have to make the top 24 or whatever the number will be but, at the same time, it is going to be a lot of fun to try the new system. The speedways might not be as much fun but the downforce tracks and the short tracks should be great.
Neff: It has been a long time since we had a Rookie of the Year race that was worth a crap. This year we’re out of the gate with eight contenders. How do you feel about your chances in this rookie chase?
Allgaier: I feel good. The way the Rookie of the Year is scored is a little different from the normal points race. I think this is going to help the guys who can have some really good races vs. penalizing the guys who have the occasional bad one. If we can go out there and be consistent on a weekly basis it will help out tremendously. I’m confident in the equipment we’re building here at HScott Motorsports and I feel great about the direction we’re heading. I think we can be right there on their heels and run with them on a weekly basis. Nobody really knows what is going to happen. We just need to get into the main part of the season and see where everything shakes out. The cool part for me is that we have eight guys going for it. That is something we haven’t seen in a while. That is very exciting and very motivating. The more you have in the race the more emphasis and want you have to win that Rookie of the Year title. Hopefully that is going to play to our advantage.
Neff: Away from the Cup side of things, how is your dirt track racing going?
Justini Allgaier: Dirt track racing has been a little tough. Had some good nights the first two nights and then the third night David Stremme got wrecked in front of me and I had nowhere to go. I ended up clipping him and flipping over. I’d never turned a stock car over before so that was an interesting go of it. I am fortunate that my guys did a great job and built a great race car and I had great safety equipment. Obviously the man upstairs looked out for me too. No matter how good your equipment is and your safety equipment, the man upstairs still has to look out for you in order for you to be unhurt. Definitely got lucky and we’ll go on. The car wasn’t bad enough that we couldn’t go on. We got it fixed and went back out and ran the B-main but didn’t quite make it to the A. Tomorrow night (Monday’s Gator Nationals) will be the next test to see if there is anything else wrong with it but it should be ok.
Neff: Away from racing altogether, how was your first Christmas as a dad?
Allgaier: It was awesome. To be able to experience that with her family and my family. As much as I want her to grow, it is nice to document all of the firsts and to just watch her grow, and she sure has been. Next year will be even better because we can get her actual toys that she’ll know what to do with instead of just staring at them.
Neff: She’s at that stage now where the personality is starting to develop and she’s starting to look like a small human instead of a doll. Are you starting to see that as well and starting to develop some communication with her?
Allgaier: She’s starting to get to the point where we can tell she’s understanding what we’re saying to her. We’ve learned that she loves sweet tea. If she sees a glass of sweet tea on the table she’ll do everything she can to get to it and get the straw in her mouth. It is very interesting because she’d never had it and she grabbed a glass right away. She is definitely getting her own personality and she’s a lot like her mom. That is probably going to have me outnumbered as she gets older but that is ok, it is going to be good.
Neff: Outside of the Cup series, are you going to be running the Modified more this season? Are there any plans to run Nationwide or Trucks?
Allgaier: As of right now there isn’t any other NASCAR stuff in the works. We are going to run the Modified as much as possible. The schedule with the Cup series is going to limit me more than the Nationwide Series did. With Sunday races and some of the other times we’re at the race track and all, but I think it will be good to get away and get some positive reassurance by running well in the Modified. It makes coming back over here easier, especially if you’re up and down and you’re not sure how things are lining up for you. It has been good for me to have that and run whenever possible. If something comes along and we can find a sponsor to run some Nationwide or Truck races that would be great because I love to run in those series as well.
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