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June 15, 2024

Allmendinger, Allgaier among Xfinity stars sidelined by flattened Iowa tires

NEWTON, Iowa — AJ Allmendinger was the first driver in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway to experience a flat tire and crash into the SAFER barrier. He was not the last.

Allmendinger was joined by Justin Allgaier, Jesse Love, Austin Hill, Jeb Burton and John Hunter Nemechek in the Xfinity garage, and they all wound up against the wall at some point during Saturday’s Hy-Vee Perks 250.

RELATED: Race results | At-track photos

The 0.875-mile oval hosted Xfinity competition for the 21st time, but first since 2019, receiving new asphalt in the spring that was laid upon the middle and bottom lanes in each set of corners. That new surface produced plenty of grip but brought with it a new challenge as teams tried to manage their Goodyear rubber.

Allmendinger, Burton, Love and Allgaier all incurred similar fates: flat right-front tires that sent their Chevrolets into the retaining wall. Allmendinger’s day in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet ended after completing 32 laps, pounding the SAFER barrier after his tire let go at the exit of Turn 4.

“It just blew out,” Allmendinger said, who added he felt no indication a blowout was imminent. “I was a little bit tight, and actually when I ran the bottom, I was tighter. So I thought down there, I was hurting the tire more. But I didn’t expect to have a right-front issue. It wasn’t like I was overly tight either. Just a part of it.”

AJ Allmendinger's car sits in the garage after a crash at Iowa.
Zach Sturniolo | NASCAR Digital Media

Burton became fated for a similar incident in Turn 1 when his right front went down, sending the No. 27 Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet into the wall. Burton, a 2023 playoff contender, was able to continue and trudged to a 24th-place finish, three laps down.

Love was the next driver in trouble at Lap 150 when the tire on his No. 2 Richard Childress Chevrolet flattened exiting Turn 4, nearly in an identical spot to Allmendinger’s incident — as well as Allgaier’s some 52 laps later. Allgaier, winner at Darlington Raceway five races ago, wound up with his second DNF in the past four events.

Allgaier credited crew chief Jim Pohlman for cautioning that issues may lie ahead and put the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in a spot to succeed. But trouble headed Allgaier’s way nonetheless.

“Jim Pohlman did a great job on radio and just said, ‘Hey, look, we’re gonna be on the longest run we’ll run all day. Somebody’s gonna blow a right front; just don’t let it be us,'” Allgaier said. “Unfortunately it was us. Not the homecoming we wanted to come back to Iowa Speedway.”

A 14-year veteran of the Xfinity Series, Allgaier was eager to return to the Midwestern short track, where he’s turned plenty of laps. But the Illinois native felt the series could have benefitted from a tire test of its own after the recent repave.

“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t do a tire test here for the Xfinity Series,” Allgaier said. “You know, we’ve tried to not do tire tests at some of these places … but I feel like today there’s enough cars in the garage area that we probably should have.

“Goodyear does everything they can week in and week out to try to bring us a tire that’s not gonna have issues, right? I mean, that’s what they’ve done since the beginning. And I think that we just didn’t give them all the tools this week unfortunately to do the best thing.”

RELATED: Allgaier wrecks out at Iowa

Hill’s day-ender appeared unique to his No. 21 Richard Childress Racing team. The Bennett Transportation Chevrolet was running second at Lap 218 when his left-front tire let go on entry to Turn 1, sending the No. 21 car into the SAFER barrier and its driver to the infield care center, where he and all others ousted from contention were evaluated and released.

“The lap before, something felt weird in the left front and I keyed up (the radio) and I said I might have a tire issue,” Hill told “Went down to (Turns) 3 and 4, everything felt similar to 1 and 2, but I knew I was losing ground to the (No.) 20. And I drove off into 1 and I lifted a little early, and right when I lifted, it just sat on the splitter and it got on the left front and there’s just nothing you can do. I mean, you’re carrying so much speed at a place like Iowa where, you know, it’s a small seven-eighths-mile kind of short track but it kind of raced like a mile-and-a-half today. I mean, it was a lot of throttle time, everyone fighting for that top lane as as you would say. But yeah, I mean, I had a lot of fun today. It just it didn’t work out, unfortunately.”

Nemechek’s issue was also unique — but with had a more obvious cause. He and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sheldon Creed collided on a restart with 13 laps left in regulation. Exiting Turn 4, Nemechek was to Creed’s right-rear quarter panel. Creed’s No. 18 Toyota didn’t give Nemechek’s No. 20 much leeway, leading to contact with Nemechek’s left-front tire. Within eight laps, Nemechek was into the Turn 3 wall and sent to the care center.

With so many key contenders sidelined by flat tires — Allgaier, Hill, Love and Nemechek have all won at least once this season — Hill was cautious to speculate on issues but believed myriad factors played into the outcome.

“I don’t want to point fingers or put the blame on anybody,” Hill said. “Some guys can sit here and blame Goodyear for it and other people can sit here and blame the teams for trying to get aggressive with air pressure and all. It’s probably a combination of just everything. Everyone’s trying extremely hard to get an edge on the competition, and sometimes you just push it too far.

“Now, did we do that? Did RCR do that? I don’t know that answer. But it seemed like everyone was really definitely pushing the limit on stuff. But who’s to say that that was the issue? I’m just not real sure.”