Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Justin Allgaier kicks off Xfinity playoffs with Bristol win

JR Motorsports has had better nights than Friday but at least one of their drivers and owner left in a good mood, even if the latter’s night literally went down in flames. All of Justin Allgaier‘s team-mates retired from Friday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff opener at Bristol Motor Speedway including his boss Dale Earnhardt Jr., while Allgaier led the final thirteen laps to begin the postseason on a strong note.

The win was his first at Bristol since 2010. To make the victory even sweeter, Allgaier announced he had signed a contract extension with JRM for 2024 following the race.

Allgaier’s #7 team played their cards to perfection. After a caution came out for Josh Bilicki‘s spin on lap 248, Allgaier was told to pit while everyone else stayed out. While a risky move as it dropped him down the order, the newer tyres and added fuel gave him the advantage that he used to the fullest to catch Daniel Hemric—who had his own 2024 announcement earlier in the day—with thirteen to go.

“This team has done an amazing job at this race track since I started at JR Motorsports,” said Allgaier. “We led a lot of laps, and the monkey was definitely on our back. The pit strategy there, coming down pit road by myself was nerve wracking, right?”

While Allgaier celebrated with Earnhardt in Victory Lane, it was a bittersweet night for the latter. All three of JRM’s other drivers Sam Mayer, Josh Berry, and Brandon Jones crashed out together coming to the end of Stage #2, which also collected Ryan Sieg. Earnhardt himself was knocked out by a fire in the cockpit on lap 271 that burned the leg on his firesuit. He will try to bounce back in his second scheduled start at Homestead in October.

“Tough night. RF went down,” explained Berry. “I’ve worked for @JRMotorsports since 2010 if anyone thinks I just went in and piled 3 of our cars in the wall for the hell of it in the playoffs because we may have banged doors then can’t help ya.”

The JRM debacle was not the only case of accidental friendly fire. Fellow Chevrolet team Richard Childress Racing saw regular season champion Austin Hill get spun out by his partner Sheldon Creed on lap 217, forcing him to retire.

While Hill is still above the cut line due to his regular season success, the JRM crash dropped Berry and Mayer below it. Parker Kligerman was already the lowest seed entering the postseason but Friday did him no favours as a mechanical issue forced him to the garage for fifty-three laps and he finished thirty-first.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 10 7 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 300 Running
2 5 10 Daniel Hemric^ Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 300 Running
3 3 20 John Hunter Nemechek Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 300 Running
4 1 00 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 300 Running
5 4 16 Chandler Smith Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 300 Running
6 7 39 Ryan Sieg RSS Racing Ford 300 Running
7 12 19 Trevor Bayne^ Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 300 Running
8 16 98 Riley Herbst Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 300 Running
9 6 18 Sammy Smith Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 300 Running
10 31 26 Kaz Grala Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 300 Running
11 21 2 Sheldon Creed Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 300 Running
12 18 11 Derek Kraus Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 300 Running
13 38 27 Jeb Burton Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 300 Running
14 29 24 Connor Mosack Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 300 Running
15 14 31 Parker Retzlaff Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 299 Running
16 36 25 Brett Moffitt AM Racing Ford 299 Running
17 25 44 Rajah Caruth* Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 298 Running
18 22 43 Ryan Ellis Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 298 Running
19 35 07 Stefan Parsons SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 298 Running
20 20 92 Josh Williams DGM Racing Chevrolet 298 Running
21 27 28 Kyle Sieg RSS Racing Ford 298 Running
22 28 6 Brennan Poole JD Motorsports Chevrolet 297 Running
23 30 4 Kyle Weatherman JD Motorsports Chevrolet 297 Running
24 9 51 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 297 Running
25 32 78 Anthony Alfredo B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 296 Running
26 19 38 Joe Graf Jr. RSS Racing Ford 295 Running
27 24 91 Josh Bilicki DGM Racing Chevrolet 294 Running
28 33 02 Blaine Perkins Our Motorsports Chevrolet 294 Running
29 23 08 Chad Finchum SS-Green Light Racing Ford 276 Running
30 15 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr JR Motorsports Chevrolet 271 Ignition
31 13 48 Parker Kligerman Big Macing Racing Team Chevrolet 246 Running
32 17 45 Jeffrey Earnhardt Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 229 Brakes
33 26 21 Austin Hill Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 217 DVP
34 8 9 Brandon Jones JR Motorsports Chevrolet 178 Suspension
35 11 1 Sam Mayer JR Motorsports Chevrolet 166 Accident
36 2 8 Josh Berry JR Motorsports Chevrolet 166 Accident
37 37 35 B.J. McLeod Emerling-Gase Motorsports Chevrolet 117 Power
38 34 66 Timmy Hill* MBM Motorsports Toyota 81 Rear Gear
Bold – Currently in playoffs
^ – Currently in owner playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points