As summer enters the dog days, JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier is riding a wave that’s seen his No. 7 Chevrolet finish in the top three in four of the last six races, capped off by a runner-up finish to NASCAR Cup Series regular Christopher Bell in the Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In the 11 weeks dating back to his Darlington Raceway victory in May, Allgaier has finished outside the top 10 just three times and outside the top 12 just once.
Allgaier is one of just five full-time Xfinity regulars with a victory in 2021 and one of three with more than one tally mark in the win column with a pair of trophies on the year (Atlanta Motor Speedway I, Darlington). With seven races left before the Xfinity Series playoffs begin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September, Allgaier is in position to capitalize.
“I felt like, over the course of the day, we made good progress on our balance,” Allgaier said after the race.
“The crazy part [is], right there at the beginning of the [last green flag] run, I was saving some,” Allgaier said about trying to catch eventual winner Bell on the final restart. “But he was able to get away even when I was able to start pushing…it was still a good day here.”
Allgaier couldn’t catch Bell, but he wasn’t alone on that count. Bell’s margin of victory was 6.24 seconds. Allgaier was able to hold off a charging Daniel Hemric and current point leader Austin Cindric for the runner-up spot and best-in-class honors among NXS drivers.
But is the team peaking too soon? The playoffs are looming, no question, but there are still seven weeks to go in the regular season. Allgaier is currently fourth in driver points, but his two wins and 11 playoff points bode well for a top playoff seed.
“I’d like those [recent top-three finishes] to be in the playoffs,” Allgaier said. “But ultimately, I think our team has done a good job. We’ve learned a lot over the course of the summer. I don’t feel like we’re slowing down. A lot of times when you peak, you kind of go back the other way and we haven’t done that. I feel good about our program. I feel good about our team and our cars. We’ll keep plugging along.
“I feel like our team is ready, from a car standpoint, from an engine standpoint. From a team standpoint, I feel like we’ve really done a good job. We’re definitely ready. It’s just a matter of dotting all the Is and crossing the Ts and being there when it counts.”
Is there a little bit of speed still on the table that could put Allgaier over the top at Phoenix Raceway come November?
“I don’t know. Compared to our competitors that we’re racing against for the championship, I don’t know that we need anything [more]. We’re able to beat those guys week in and week out,” said Allgaier.
In the four of six races where Allgaier has finished in the top three, he’s been beaten by an NXS regular just once. If he can keep that up, he can ride this wave all the way to Phoenix. And Allgaier’s summer is just now heating up.
After the break, Allgaier and the Xfinity Series turn left and right at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 7 at 4 p.m. ET; the race will air on CNBC.