The numbers tell Justin Allgaier’s story. His 306 starts in the Xfinity Series dwarf the 76 he notched in the Cup Series. So do the 11 wins, 85 top fives and 176 top 10s when compared to a sole top 10 netted at NASCAR’s highest level.
Allgaier is not only successful in the Xfinity Series, he is also happy as JR Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet driver.
“I love where I’m at,” Allgaier said back in November at the NASCAR Awards in Charlotte, North Carolina. “This race team is fantastic. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere different as far as people go. I love the people I’m around. I’ve been disappointed in the successes we have not had. I want to bring a championship back home.”
With nine full years in the Xfinity Series — sandwiched around two Cup Series seasons from 2014-15 — Allgaier has yet to do that. The 33-year-old Illinois native ended up fourth in the 2019 final standings. That’s one spot short of his career-best seasons in 2011, 2016 and 2017.
Allgaier’s lone win last year was at ISM Raceway near Phoenix during the NASCAR Playoffs, the last race in the Round of 8. It clinched his spot in the Championship 4 battle at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he ultimately finished 14th.
Phoenix will host this year’s finale.
“Looking at 2020, to compete for a championship, I think we need a few more regular-season wins, obviously go for that regular-season championship and then do the same thing leading up to ISM Raceway,” Allgaier said. “Obviously if we can do what we did last year at ISM Raceway, we’re going to be in great shape.”
The three other Championship 4 drivers will be gone, too. Title-winner Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet), runner-up Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) and third-place Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) are moving up to the Cup Series.
While those who were dubbed the “Big 3” move up, a 2019 full-time Cup Series driver is actually returning to the Xfinity Series ranks to compete alongside Allgaier and Michael Annett in the No. 1 car with JR Motorsports, and Allgaier thinks the addition will only make the team as a whole stronger.
Daniel Hemric will pilot the No. 8 entry in a part-time role, but perhaps as the headliner. He’s slated for 21 of the 33 races, while Jeb Burton will handle 11 events and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make his annual appearance behind the wheel once.
“I think Daniel and I grew up a lot the same way in how we were raised,” Allgaier said. “You build race cars, you work all-nighters, and you put stuff together. If you don’t, you’re not going to go to the race track. Having that understanding of the car and how it operates is a big deal. So I think he’s going to be a big part of that.
“But on the other side of it, I think his talent alone is what’s really going to be the big difference-maker. The understanding of how to be fast week in and week out, how to optimize the race car. He’s very good at that. He’s probably one of the best I’ve been around.”
Hemric was full time in the Xfinity Series from 2017-18, placing fourth and third in the rankings each year, respectively, without any wins. In 66 starts, he had 23 top fives and 39 top 10s. He averaged an 8.0 start in both seasons.
Meanwhile, this past year, Allgaier had 16 top fives and 24 top 10s. He averaged a 9.0 finish.
“As long as they keep putting my name above the door,” Allgaier said, “I’ll be back.”