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March 9, 2024

Justin Allgaier’s victory bid vanishes with tire issue late at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. — For as well as Justin Allgaier runs at Phoenix Raceway, some days the 1-mile tri-oval is just cruel to him.

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Leading by a three-second margin with five laps to go, Allgaier suffered his latest catastrophic fate Saturday: a suddenly flat left-rear tire entering Turn 1. The trouble sent the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet into a slide 180 degrees backward and left-side first into the SAFER retaining barrier.

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Allgaier was fine physically and was evaluated and released from the infield care center. But the disappointment shrouding the 37-year-old’s face said more than any words ever could.

“Not a lot of good emotions to be honest with you at the moment,” Allgaier said. “Just proud of the effort. Proud of everybody at JR Motorsports. I mean, everybody at GM and Chevrolet have been working really hard and everybody at JR Motorsports is working really hard. It just seems like this is the story of our year so far.

“We’ve had really fast Camaros every week and just nothing to show for it. I think the heartbreaker from today was being that far out, knowing that we had the car to win at the end there.”

The tire appeared to go soft upon exit to Turn 4, but upon braking for the entry to Turn 1, the tire completely flattened and nearly ripped off the rim, erasing any chance Allgaier had to save his car. Instead of celebrating a win, Allgaier was relegated to a 29th-place finish in the blink of an eye.

“I definitely had to have run something over,” Allgaier said. “I mean, wear-wise, there’s no way we were wearing the left-rear far enough to do that. Going through the dogleg, I felt it wiggle a little bit — and I kind of knew what that already meant. But at that point, there’s quick (five) laps to go and you’ve got to hope that it holds on. And unfortunately, it just blew out. As soon as I soon as I lifted, it blew out. That was the end of it.”

Allgaier has won twice at the Arizona oval but could arguably have at least a few more trophies for his efforts. His last triumph here came in the penultimate race of the 2019 season, the year before the championship finale shifted to Phoenix. In the nine races since then, Allgaier has led at least 20 laps six times. Unfortunately, he has just three top-five finishes in that span to show for it, bested by a pair of third-place finishes.

“I feel like we’ve had really good race cars here. It just seems like it’s stupid stuff like today happens,” Allgaier said. “I wouldn’t have done anything different today. I felt like I was patient. I felt like I raced people really cleanly — and got raced not so clearly in some aspects — and just tried to do everything I could to manage the day well.

“You never know when a tire is going to blow out like that if you run something over. I mean, there’s debris everywhere on the race track, so you never know where you pick it up from or whatever. But it’s just so frustrating to come out of here with a finish like we’re gonna come out of here and know that our car was that good.”

Through four races in 2024, Allgaier sits eighth in points, 64 markers back of series leader and eventual Phoenix winner Chandler Smith. The opening month has been a tale of two seasons for the veteran racer with two top 10s — eighth at Daytona; 10th at Las Vegas — to pair with finishes of 28th at Atlanta and 29th at Phoenix.

The series returns to action on March 23 at Circuit of The Americas (5 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), where Allgaier has two top fives in three starts.