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April 1, 2023

Justin Allgaier hangs on for Dash 4 Cash payday at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. – The four drivers who vied for the Dash 4 Cash bonus in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race all started among the top five at the front of the pack. None of them finished there, but best-of-the-rest veteran Justin Allgaier was still smiling at the end, $100,000 richer.

After a final-stage call on pit strategy that nearly went awry, Allgaier held on to finish 13th and outlast the others in the Dash 4 Cash-eligible quartet on a hard-fought afternoon at Richmond Raceway. The rest struggled to stay on the lead lap, with Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate Sam Mayer taking 17th, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sammy Smith driving home 19th and Kaulig Racing’s Daniel Hemric placing 24th as the first driver one lap down.

RELATED: Race results | Richmond weekend schedule

Allgaier started from the pole and led only the first two laps but grappled to keep the same pace as the day’s eventual front-runners in the ToyotaCare 250. With 40 laps to go, his No. 7 JRM crew chief, James Pohlman, opted to pit on a long green-flag run through the final stage, but a yellow flag 10 laps later for Jeremy Clements’ stalled No. 51 thwarted the gamble. He held on with tires that were 10 laps older than most of his peers who pitted during that caution period, helped by a trickle of more yellows that kept the others from gaining on him.

“Obviously, you want to win the 100 grand by winning the race, right, and we felt like that was the call to try to win the race,” Allgaier said. “We were off a little bit more than we wanted to be, and we knew everybody was gonna have to pit in that last segment. It’d been going green, so we were kind of hopeful that maybe it would stay green. … Ultimately, it worked out for us, but proud of the team, proud of the effort. You know, Jim Pohlman’s done a great job this year. We made the play to go try to win the race. It could have bitten us and taken the 100 grand away, but ultimately didn’t.”

Justin Allgaier's No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet leads a pack at Richmond Raceway
David Jensen | Getty Images

Allgaier took some exception with how the pivotal caution period played out, with Clements’ car stopping on pit road just short of an escape route. “Of course,” he said on the No. 7 team radio.

“Every time he breaks or has a problem, we are on a different strategy than everybody else, and it always bites us,” said Allgaier, able to smile about it later with his six-figure payday secured. “I don’t know why. Jeremy and I are really good friends. But it’s like, oh, man, it just, it never fails.”

The rest of the four who made the Dash 4 Cash field on the basis of their finishes in the qualifier at Circuit of The Americas last weekend each fought through their own issues, and all three were one lap down at the end of Stage 2.

Mayer was the top finisher from that group. A Lap 230 crash between Riley Herbst and Brandon Jones put his No. 1 JRM Chevy back on the lead lap, but he was unable to gain enough ground to top Allgaier. A JR Motorsports spokesperson said he declined to comment about his finish post-race, but he told his No. 1 team over the radio that something seemed to break in the car’s rear end early on.

MORE: At-track photos: Richmond and Texas

Smith was bitten by a strategy call in the first stage that put his No. 18 Toyota at a deficit. He and teammate John Hunter Nemechek opted not to pit during a competition caution at Lap 35, and the rest of the field overtook them easily on fresher tires. Smith was a lap down in 33rd place by Lap 70, but the free pass at the stage break five laps later went to Nemechek’s No. 20 Toyota in 32nd.

Smith didn’t return to the lead lap until the 239th of 250 laps. Nemechek rallied to finish second to race winner Chandler Smith, no relation.

“I knew the 20 was going to stay out, and I felt like at the time, the other guys were conserving tires, so obviously, looking back, it was a big mistake,” said No. 18 crew chief Jeff Meendering. “I thought more people were gonna stay out with us, and I didn’t want to be at a tire deficit at the end of the race. It put us in a great big hole, and we had a really good car. Sammy did a great job, and I definitely screwed up the pit call.”

Hemric’s downfall came later as he lost significant headway through the middle portions of the event. Post-race, he joined his crew in diligently checking over his No. 11 Kaulig Chevy to see if anything had gone amiss.

“I’ve never had something go that bad without having a problem,” Hemric said. “So we’ll get to the bottom of it. That first run, I tried to go hard, knowing we’re gonna pit at Lap 35, and then after that, OK, there’s parts of the run where you save your stuff, and I couldn’t manage anything, so I don’t know.”

Allgaier will get a chance to repeat in the Xfinity Series’ next race of the Dash 4 Cash program, scheduled Saturday, April 15 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Martinsville Speedway. He will be joined in the bonus-eligible field by Chandler Smith, Nemechek and JRM teammate Josh Berry.