MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 12, 2017) – Justin Allgaier and the No. 7 JR Motorsports team have had a solid 2017 season thus far, capturing a win in Phoenix, two Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonuses and earning three top-five and five top-10 finishes in nine races.
Allgaier, who currently sits second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings and has led more laps this season (266) than any other series competitor, gave the No. 7 team and himself a pretty decent grade for the first portion of the season.
“I would say we’re probably between an A- and a B+,” Allgaier judged. “We’ve had really fast race cars every weekend that we’ve gone to the racetrack. I feel like our short-track program is as good or better than anybody’s right now at the moment. We’ve definitely excelled on the smaller racetracks. And I think the other part of it is we’ve stayed within the speed that we know we have. Whether it’s a fifth-place car or a winning car, we’ve done a good job of really managing the day and when we don’t have a day that’s going our way, we’re good at managing that and not getting too far ahead of ourselves.”
While there’s been a lot that’s gone right for the team this season, Allgaier also thinks there is room for improvement.
“We’ve not executed on some races,” he said. “Being in the right position at the right time and not being able to execute and to do what we want to do. But we did get the win at Phoenix and I think that was obviously huge for the season. If we have the same race cars moving forward in the season as we do right now and we can start executing, I think we’ll have a great shot at winning the championship later on this fall.”
Short tracks have been a strong suit for the No. 7 team, led by crew chief Jason Burdett. In three starts on tracks measuring one mile or shorter this season, Allgaier has posted an average finish of 5.7, collecting a win (Phoenix) and a second-place finish (Richmond) along the way. They’re also coming off a strong superspeedway run at Talladega. For Burdett, if there’s an area the team can improve on it would be the mile-and-a-half program.
“For sure, going forward from here, we’ve got to work on our mile-and-a-half program. The last three months, the Playoffs, are full of them. We’ve got to get better at those as the season moves on.”
This is something both Burdett and Allgaier agree on. While the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevy finished fourth at Las Vegas, a wreck took Allgaier out of contention at Atlanta and the team battled handling issues at Texas, placing 13th.
“We’ve got to do a better job on our mile-and-a-half program,” explained Allgaier. “I feel like, especially for me, that’s an area where we’ve struggled. We need to get better there, but we’ve been working hard on that and I think we’re definitely making big gains.”
Making gains has been key for the team, and getting a win early in the season has been a confidence booster, but it’s also made them hungry for more.
“Any time you can go to Victory Lane, everybody is, they’re enjoying that moment, but they’re able to really kind of use that as motivation,” said Allgaier. “But you’re only as good as your last race and I think for all of us as much as we are elevated because of the win, I think our guys are motivated to not let that win let us sit still. They’ve gotten to taste victory and they want it more often and I think that’s what we’re going to have to do, stay hungry and make sure that we can use this race win as motivation to get more wins throughout the season.”
Burdett likes the momentum the team has gained this year and is hoping to continue that trend when the team heads to Charlotte in a couple of weeks.
“We got the win at Phoenix and then go to Richmond and have a day like we had gets you a little more confident and then Talladega, you can kind of keep building on it. If we can go to Charlotte and have a good day, finish solidly in the top 10 or even get a top five, that will just build into Dover, Pocono and Michigan.”
If the team can stay on the path of leading laps and gaining valuable playoff points, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with come September when the NXS Playoffs start.