CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Twelve full-time seasons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, 19 wins and a whopping 60% top-10 finish rate in 398 starts. The numbers that Justin Allgaier has put up in the Xfinity Series resemble those of a champion, but the JR Motorsports driver’s title shelf sits barren.
Since the playoffs were introduced to the Xfinity Series in 2016, Allgaier has qualified for the 12-driver field every year. He’s reached the Championship 4 in all but two seasons of the playoff era but has been a bridesmaid in all instances.
In the course of sports history, many successful athletes have gone through their careers without reaching the peak of hoisting the big trophy at season’s end. Most notably in NASCAR, that mark currently falls on 48-time Cup Series winner Denny Hamlin – seeking his first Cup championship in his 17th full-time campaign after several close calls – and it’s difficult to not notice the uncanniness in the two’s title shortcomings.
Despite what’s occurred in the past, Allgaier is entering the 2022 playoffs with a positive outlook.
“This is the best position I’ve ever been in but nothing’s guaranteed,” Allgaier said during Tuesday’s Xfinity Series Playoffs Media Day. “I get a lot of fans that come up and they’ll be like, ‘this is your year, this sport owes you,’ you know, but I learned a long time ago that the more you feel like the universe owes you something, the less and less you really succeed.”
After two seasons in the Cup Series in 2014 and 2015, Allgaier moved to JR Motorsports and has driven the No. 7 Chevrolet for the last seven years.
Through his time with the team so far, he’s seen a handful of young drivers come through the team, succeed and go up to the Cup Series. This includes 2017 Xfinity champion William Byron and 2018 champ Tyler Reddick. Currently, Allgaier is teammates with Noah Gragson, who joined JRM in 2019, along with Sam Mayer and Josh Berry, who are both competing in their first full-time seasons in the Xfinity Series.
Gragson, set to move up to Cup with Petty GMS in ’23, is arguably the favorite to win his first Xfinity title and enters the playoffs with serious momentum as he’s on a three-race winning streak. Berry will enter the playoffs 17 points above the elimination line while Mayer is the only JRM driver on the outside looking in, but is even with Jeremy Clements on the Round of 8 elimination line.
While Allgaier’s teammates will all serve as stiff competition in his quest to capture that elusive first title, he said he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“At the beginning of the year, everyone kinda laughed at me because I had said it was a good possibility we could get all four cars into the final four at Phoenix and everybody looked at that and thought ‘you’re crazy,’ Allgaier said. “And when you look at the performance of our company as a whole, I don’t feel like I’m that crazy.
“I think the way our team is structured, it’s just as easy to have all four as it is to have one but I think for us, the more we can put into the final four at Phoenix, the better the morale is at the shop. You can’t lose as a company if you’ve got four in there, right?”
Even without a championship, Allgaier said he’s content with how his career has gone, and after competing in a heated battle for the regular-season title with Ty Gibbs and AJ Allmendinger, Allgaier already has a head start in making a run for the championship as he will enter Saturday’s Xfinity playoff opener at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in third, 28 points above the Round of 8 elimination line.
“I’ve watched people that should’ve won championship after championship that never did and I watched people that I say, ‘they’ll never win a championship,’ and they won multiple,” Allgaier said. “When it’s all said and done, a championship is not going to define my career. If my career ended today, I’m perfectly happy with where I’ve been, what I’ve done and what I’ve seen.”