Justin Allgaier’s season of frustration bubbled over in a post-race rant Saturday after a run-in with veteran AJ Allmendinger in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ debut at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
Allgaier and Allmendinger were both running among the top five in the inaugural UNOH 188 when Allmendinger overshot the entry to Turn 6 on the 3.61-mile circuit with three laps to go. His lock-up forced the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet into Allgaier’s No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevy, looping him out of the groove.
Allmendinger drove on to finish fourth. Allgaier righted his car and took ninth place, but he marched over to confront Allmendinger after the checkered flag.
Allmendinger tried to soothe the situation by accepting fault, but Allgaier stayed on the offensive, saying, “That’s just dumb.” Allmendinger countered: “It was a mistake, and I’ve seen you make a lot of them.”
Once the trading of words ended, Allmendinger reiterated he was to blame in their on-track contact.
“I mean, he should be mad. That’s my fault,” Allmendinger told NBC Sports. “It wasn’t anything intentional, but that was my fault. I got in there trying to get under (Andy) Lally, and honestly I didn’t even drive it in that hard. I had the Lally pass done, and as soon as I touched the brake pedal, it started wheel-hopping, and as soon as it did, I was trying to clear out of the way, like I was trying to turn right to get away from the 7 and miss him. I got into him, so he should be mad, and I apologized to his race team.
“He says I’ve wrecked him a lot in the past. I’m not really sure of that. If that’s the case, I’m sorry.”
Allgaier’s remarks stemmed not only from what was an unforced error on Allmendinger’s part, but also a 2020 season that has been among the most irksome of his career. Though he’s well within the comfort zone in the Xfinity Series playoff picture thanks to 10 top-10 finishes in 19 races, he has yet to visit Victory Lane this year. Adding to the frustration level, five of his races have been cut short by crashes, mostly of the late-race variety.
Allgaier’s road-race start didn’t end early Saturday, but the sting was still painful.
“Getting wrecked, plain and simple,” Allgaier told NBCSN. “He just made a dumb, dumb decision. Obviously I’ve not seen a replay, but it’s pretty easy to tell what happened. I don’t know if we could’ve held him off at the end of the race there, but he just drove in there and cleaned me out. Really proud of everybody on this Brandt Agriculture Camaro. We weren’t the best today, the guys did a really good job and made big gains all day, and the pit crew did a great job of getting track position. Spotters did awesome, just getting me in the right spots.”
Allgaier then paused, gave a half-chuckle and shook his head.
“2020 has been just like that right there, and I’m over it,” he said. “It’s not the first time AJ’s wrecked me, and it’s just hard when the same guy wrecks you over and over again.”