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In the Draft: Allgaier goes from sea and sand to engines and rubber

February 21, 2012, Justin Allgaier, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



In the Draft: Allgaier goes from sea and sand to engines and rubber
Offseason full of tropical locales was great and all, but time to get back on track

Hey everyone! I truly can't believe that it's already time to start the 2012 season, and I am very excited to get back into the swing of things and start racing. It's just that it kind of seems like yesterday we were wrapping up at Homestead-Miami Speedway and heading into the holiday season. Anyway, I have been in Daytona for a few days now -- my wife, Ashley, and I drove down early so we could watch the ARCA race, which is always a fun time for both of us, having come up through that series on my way to where I'm at now in the Nationwide Series.

"While our crew went through a few changes over the off season, one thing remained constant which I'm really pumped about -- my crew chief Jimmy Elledge. He and I have really similar personalities in that we are pretty laid back, which I think speaks to the fact that we are able to work so well together. "

--JUSTIN ALLGAIER

We had a really good off season -- staying busy, but getting to relax as well. We definitely spent some time up in Springfield and Riverton, Ill., with our families over Thanksgiving and Christmas. We were also fortunate enough to be a part of James and Kris Buescher's wedding in Costa Rica in January. It was an absolutely beautiful ceremony and fun week for everyone involved. In addition to the ceremony and all of the normal wedding things that went on, we got a chance to go zip lining, offshore fishing and just relax a little while we were down there for the week.

Ashley and I also just returned from the K-LOVE Friends and Family Cruise with some friends and fellow racers which took us to the Bahamas and a couple of other ports in the Caribbean. We got to hear some really great Christian artists and speakers and enjoyed meeting some of the other cool guests on the ship. Seeing some of those parts of the world was just an amazing experience -- the beaches are incredibly beautiful. I definitely want to thank my buddy Michael McDowell for inviting us to be a part of the trip and K-LOVE for putting it all together. We are already talking about next year's cruise!

Now let's get down to the real good stuff and talk about racing! There's something new this year for all you guys to look for out on the track this season. The BRANDT Chevrolet has a new, retro look to it for 2012. The bright red color will obviously stay the same -- it's a favorite of the Brandt family. But the new scheme for this year features some sweet racing stripes that run up over the length of the car. I really want to thank BRANDT for allowing me to help in the design process. It was a lot of fun for me to take part in. While we're on the subject of BRANDT, I'm really excited that they are coming back in a big way for 2012. It's so great to be part of the BRANDT Racing family and I'm obviously hopeful for big things for them and our team this year.

While our crew went through a few changes over the off season, one thing remained constant which I'm really pumped about -- my crew chief Jimmy Elledge. He and I have really similar personalities in that we are pretty laid back, which I think speaks to the fact that we are able to work so well together. We definitely learned some things last year in our first season together -- some of the stuff we tried worked and some of it didn't. We'll definitely look at what worked and build upon that for this year. We want to always be learning and moving forward as we get into the season.

Well, I look forward to meeting some of you guys in Daytona and throughout 2012. I'm really excited about the opportunity I have with this blog to reach out to you guys every other week too. Should be a blast! Until next time ... take care!

In the Draft with Justin Allgaier is a twice-monthly blog and the opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. Follow him and the No. 31 BRANDT Racing team on Twitter: @J_Allgaier, @BrandtRacing or @No31TurnerNNS.