Justin Allgaier is having a career year in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, having won four races while leading the point standings with three races left in the regular season. Allgaier is clearly one of the best drivers in NXS, which leads to this week’s question: Should Allgaier move back up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series?
Movin’ On Up
Allgaier needs to give the Cup Series another try, and someone needs to give him that opportunity.
Much of the talk lately has centered around how Christopher Bell is ready to move up to Cup next year. Well, Allgaier has proved this season that he is just as talented as Bell, and those two need to continue their rivalry up at the highest level of stock car racing.
When Allgaier raced in Cup before, he wasn’t dealt a fair hand. He drove for HScott Motorsports for two seasons, and underfunded organization that only lasted for three. Still, Allgaier did the most with that equipment and was able to net a top-10 finish in the car — an eighth at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Allgaier deserves a shot in a Cup car capable of winning races. There are plenty of competitive Cup rides that might be available next season, including the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1, the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 and the Leavine Family Racing No. 95.
Not only would Allgaier provide any of those teams with the talent to compete for wins, but he also brings sponsorship with him. Brandt Professional Agriculture has been with Brandt since 2011. The company has been with Allgaier through the best and worst of times and would likely make the jump with him if he chose to do so. Even if Brandt only signs on to do part of the season, it would be more sponsorship than Bell, Daniel Hemric or Ross Chastain bring to the table.
Allgaier certainly wouldn’t be the first person to get a second opportunity at Cup. Alex Bowman did the same thing, and that experiment seems to be paying off. Mark Martin had dealings with a shady owner when he was a Cup rookie and was left without a ride for a few years. He ultimately came back with Jack Roush and built a Hall of Fame-worthy career.
He might be 12 years older than this year’s rookie William Byron, but Allgaier is certainly not too old to make it in Cup. I remember Rick Mast saying that when he came up through the ranks, no owner would call until a driver was 30 years old. Times have changed since then, but the fact that Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are winning in their 40s tells me that Allgaier could have at least 10 fruitful years in Cup.
Yes, it would be a huge gamble for Allgaier and he would be giving up a JR Motorsports ride to go to Cup. But given the year he’s had, especially if it ends with a championship, Allgaier has nothing left to prove in XFINITY. It would be a shame if he and everyone else spent the rest of his career wondering “what if?” Besides, even a second attempt at Cup ends in horrible fashion, Brandt will hopefully remain loyal to Allgaier and he can go back to dominating NXS.
Allgaier is riding a wave a momentum strong enough to carry him into NASCAR’s highest level, and he absolutely needs to take advantage of it now. -Michael Massie
Give Up the Best to Be One of the Rest?
Recently, I did my best to encourage Kurt Busch to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing. As stated then, it’s easy to feel like things will be better somewhere else. Such is not always the case.
Justin Allgaier is enjoying a career year in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He has four victories and appears to be the clear championship front-runner. The 2009 XFINITY Rookie of the Year doesn’t have a NASCAR title on his resume yet, but he’s never had a better opportunity to change that.
Now, some notable people, including his car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr, are suggesting that Allgaier is ready for a second chance in a Cup Series ride. Let’s hold on a moment — we haven’t even made it to the postseason yet.
I’m not going to try and say he isn’t ready. He’s absolutely capable – in the right situation, and that’s part of the problem I have with this. It isn’t just about how good the equipment is that he would drive in Cup. A good driver and a good car prepared by a good team isn’t a cure-all. History is peppered with examples of the contrary.
It should also be mentioned that his initial foray into Cup was less than impressive. I feel he was too eager to get to Cup. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a part of the highest level of stock car racing, but Allgaier wasn’t going to win with Harry Scott’s team. He had an impressive pair of finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2015, coming home eighth and 12th in the two events on the high-banked short track, but that was about it.
Allgaier is performing incredibly well because he is in a situation that allows him to flourish. He has no concerns about his job security. His sponsor isn’t going anywhere, and neither is the team that fields his No. 7 Chevrolets. Allgaier and crew chief Jason Burdett are clicking, and the team is on quite the hot streak. Their lowest finish in the last 11 races: ninth.
These type of dominant years don’t come around all that often for drivers. Even the best drivers can probably count on one hand how many times they really feel like they had the competition cornered. Allgaier and company need to ride this wave for as long as they can. Cup will always be there, but just jumping to any ride in an attempt to get back into the premier series isn’t worth giving up the caliber of the team he has now.
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that Allgaier makes the decision to move to Cup. There aren’t many top tier rides available for 2019. Even the defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion is facing a bit of uncertainty about next season. Hendrick Motorsports, JR Motorsports’ Cup-affiliated team, certainly won’t have any openings.
Simply put, a winning XFINITY car may or may not be better than some Cup rides, depending on who you ask. But it’s certainly better than not having a ride at all.
That grass might look awfully green over there on the Cup side of the road, but it can turn brown in less time than it takes to cross the street. -Frank Velat