Saturday, August 20, 2022

XFINITY: Justin Allgaier scores first XFINITY last-place finish in 394th start, completing LASTCAR Triple Crown


by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Justin Allgaier picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Sunoco Go Rewards 200 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International when his #7 Brandt Chevrolet crashed after 4 of 82 laps.

The finish came in Allgaier’s 394th series start. In the XFINITY Series rankings, it was the 14th for the #7, the 368th from a crash, and the 602nd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 53rd for the #7, the 1,301st from a crash, and the 1,854th for Chevrolet.

With the finish, Allgaier also becomes the 40th driver to complete the LASTCAR Triple Crown for scoring at least one last-place finish in each of NASCAR’s national touring series. Allgaier’s first Truck Series last-place finish came at Kansas on July 2, 2005. His first in the Cup Series came at Charlotte on May 24, 2015.

While his XFINITY Series career began with Penske Racing in 2008, Allgaier has enjoyed most of his success in bright orange Chevrolets sponsored by Brandt Agriculture. The driver-sponsor pairing began in 2011, when Allgaier began his tenure for Turner Motorsports after the acquisition of Braun Racing. It continued through two frustrating years in the Cup Series, when HScott Motorsports’ two-car effort became the subject of multiple LASTCAR articles. And it blossomed in 2016, when both joined JR Motorsports and returned to championship form. While a XFINITY title continues to elude Allgaier, who finished runner-up in 2020, he has become a regular sight in Victory Lane, scoring 19 wins as one of the series’ top regulars.

But Allgaier’s weekend at Watkins Glen began with a brake issue in practice, where he ran 11th-fastest. He managed to make the second round in qualifying, but didn’t turn a lap, securing him 10th on the grid with no speed registered. The needed repairs incurred him a tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments along with 3rd-place Kyle Larson in the #88 Chevrolet, 24th-place Patrick Gallagher in RSS Racing’s #38 Belle Haven Ford, 30th-place Brandon Brown in the #5 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet, 32nd-place Scott Heckert in McLeod’s #78 Malco Automotive Chevrolet, 33rd-place Andy Lally in the #08 Refology Ford, 35th-place Timmy Hill, who changed transmissions on the #66 R Stone / Coble Enterprises Chevrolet, and 37th-place Bayley Currey in the #4 Hy-Vee Chevrolet.

Securing the 38th and final starting spot was Blaine Perkins, whose #02 Robinson Fresh Chevrolet spun in Turn 1 during practice. Prior to the start, NASCAR moved Perkins up to fifth from the end of the left lane ahead of the penalized Allgaier, McLaughlin, Brown, and Heckert with the right lane now trailed by Preston Pardus – originally 31st in the #91 Chinchor Electric / GSD Chevrolet – ahead of the docked Larson, Lally, Hill, and Currey. This would put Heckert and Currey side-by-side in the final row. But when the green flag dropped, both Heckert and Currey crossed the stripe just before Brown and Lally with Lally 4.576 seconds back of the leader.

By the end of Lap 1, Lally had climbed to the 37th spot, butting Currey back to last, a full 10.792 seconds back of the leader and 0.370 back of the #08. Lally then climbed past Heckert, who Currey caught on Lap 2. By the time they crossed the stripe to start the third circuit, Heckert was back to last, 5.409 back of the lead. Currey now set his sights on Lally, who had opened up more than a full second’s advantage. On Lap 5, Heckert had just caught and passed Currey, putting the #4 back to last, when trouble broke out in the Esses.

During the first five laps, Allgaier climbed from 30th across the stripe to 20th and challenged Jeremy Clements for position. Through the Esses, Clements’ #51 Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet – decorated in a “throwback” to Dale Earnhardt’s first pink race car – appeared to break loose, causing Allgaier to pull to his outside. But Allgaier himself was out of control, and after a long slide slammed nose-first into the guardrails between Turns 3 and 4. Though he nearly collected Josh Bilicki’s #45 Sargento Chevrolet, no other drivers were involved, and the caution came out. Allgaier attempted to return to pit road, trailing fluid down the backstretch as Currey passed him for last heading into the "Inner Loop." Allgaier cut through the corner, then stopped halfway through Turn 5, where he climbed out, done for the day.

Taking 37th was Jeb Burton, whose #27 Ergodyne Work Gear Chevrolet lost the brakes entering the Inner Loop and collected Myatt Snider’s #31 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet. Burton pulled behind the wall, eliminated under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy” for the incident despite minor damage to his car. The 36th spot fell to Patrick Gallagher, whose rear gear caught fire down the backstretch, forcing him to stop in the Inner Loop. That same spot later saw Alex Labbe grind to a halt after his #36 Larue Industrial Snow Blowers Chevrolet pounded the outside guardrail off Turn 4 with the driver’s side. Labbe climbed out gingerly, and was brought to the medical center. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Kris Wright, whose #68 F.N.B. Corporation Chevrolet had a driveshaft failure exiting Turn 1.

Through the many spins, crashes, and lengthy cautions, several drivers enjoyed strong runs. Stefan Parsons tied his career-best 12th-place finish from his series debut at Daytona in 2019, this time driving Alpha Prime Racing’s #44 Kelly Mitsubishi Chevrolet. Five spots behind him came teammate Josh Bilicki, whose #45 Sargento Chevrolet ranked 17th – his best-ever XFINITY finish at Watkins Glen. In between came Timmy Hill, who after the aforementioned transmission change took 14th for his best XFINITY finish of the season, and his first run better than 27th all year. Also taking 20th was Brad Perez, whose XFINITY Series debut in the #35 WEISS Toyota for the Emerling-Gase Motorsports effort came one year after his ARCA debut at the same track.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #7 in a XFINITY Series race since August 11, 2012, when Danica Patrick also finished last at Watkins Glen – hers for a crash after 2 laps of the Zippo 200. These remain the only two last-place finishes for JR Motorsports’ #7 team.

38) #7-Justin Allgaier / 4 laps / crash
37) #27-Jeb Burton / 8 laps / crash
36) #38-Patrick Gallagher / 14 laps / rear gear
35) #36-Alex Labbe / 26 laps / crash
34) #68-Kris Wright / 30 laps / driveshaft

1st) Alpha Prime Racing (4)
2nd) JR Motorsports (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Motorsports Business Management (2)
4th) Big Machine Racing, B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Our Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Sam Hunt Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (17)
2nd) Toyota (3)
3rd) Ford (2)


No comments: