Less than 20 laps into Saturday’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway, Justin Allgaier didn’t look primed for a solid XFINITY Series NASCAR Playoffs opener.
A flat right-front tire sent him down pit road minutes into the race, leaving him to battle back from the 39th position.
And battle back he did; the No. 7 JR Motorsports driver powered his way through the field, eventually crossing the start-finish line under the lights third when the checkered flag waved and moving into first place in the standings, where he is tied with Cole Custer.
“I won’t lie to you — it was a rough go there at the beginning of the race.,” Allgaier told NBCSN. “But these guys on the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevy did a great job all night. Kept me calm — I was about the color of the race car for a little bit.
“But we had a lot of speed in our Camaro tonight and just fought track position and trying to make our way back through the field. But the guys on pit road did a great job and we brought a fast race car.”
The comeback wasn’t the only impressive feat of the evening among the playoff contenders; on sheer finishing order, Brennan Poole was the winner of the 12-car playoff race, finishing second in his No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. This marked Poole’s best career finish in the XFINITY Series — and only top-three result of the season.
The improvements are coming at just the right time for the 26-year-old.
“We’ve been working really hard and the past couple months have been great,” Poole told NBCSN. “So, I think it makes a strong statement for us moving forward in these playoffs and I’m excited to go next week — I’m ready to go.”
Custer also made a strong statement in the opening race of the 2017 XFINITY Playoffs, winning both stages and thus earning two playoff points. The rookie finished fifth in his No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
Custer is tied atop the playoff standings with Allgaier, who feels confident moving forward in the playoffs after tonight’s comeback.
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“We may not have won the playoffs tonight, but we definitely rallied and put ourselves in contention for when these next few races come to an end,” Allgaier said. “So, hopefully we’ll just keep digging and keep having the speed and we’ll have a great shot at making it all the way to Homestead.”