Allgaier Hopes to Add Golden Driller Trophy This Week at the Chili Bowl

Ron Lemasters | JR Motorsports | 1/9/2018

Justin Allgaier News

Justin Allgaier is getting his 2018 season off to an early start by competing in the annual Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma this week.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 9, 2018) - Fresh off a run for the NASCAR Xfinity Series title for the second year in a row, JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier is getting his 2018 season off to an early start once again. Last year, the 31-year-old Illinois driver competed in the annual Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., and he will do so again this year.

The 32nd annual edition of the top midget car race in the country is set to begin tonight - and Allgaier will be racing in it - and run through Jan. 13 inside the River Spirit Expo Center—the largest free-standing building in the world at the time of its construction—and Allgaier’s No. 7A Boss Chassis midget will be one of 342 entries for the extravaganza. It will be important to have a program for the event, too, as there are 22 cars carrying some form of the No. 7 during the five-day speed festival.

Allgaier had a good chance to make the A-Main for last year’s 31st annual Chili Bowl, but a crash in his preliminary feature sent him from fourth to 17th at the finish. Instead of lining up near the front of one of the two B-Mains on Saturday, he started the first C-Main near the back and was forced to drop out due to a mechanical failure.

He’s looking for better luck this year, which will be his third straight attempt after sitting out the race from 2010-14 due to his NASCAR commitments. He has three appearances in the A-Main on Saturday, in 2006, 2007 and 2009, with a best finish of third place in 2007. In that race, he finished behind winner Tony Stewart and runner-up J.J. Yeley.

 “Last year, we had a great car, we were running in a spot that you would absolutely want to be in,” Allgaier said. “We made 24.75 laps on a preliminary night in a great position. We had a tire going down, a bleeder that had stuck, and I was trying to compensate for that. The wheel dug in and over I went. It’s disappointing that that’s what happened, but on the flip side of that, it’s how the Chili Bowl goes. It’s one of those places where you never know how it’s going to go. We had the car and the speed, did everything right, but it didn’t work out. This year, the plan is to go back and do the same thing again, try to make it 25 laps instead of 24.75, and we should be good.”

He’ll be driving the same Boss Chassis midget he raced last year, with the same crew as well, and he noted the comfort in that. “Same car, same crew...it’s nice to be able to go back and do the same thing again.”

The qualifying procedure for the event is somewhat arcane. Here’s the process for getting to the A Main on Saturday.

Monday is practice day, and all cars will take part in it. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, a full program is run, starting with hot laps and continuing on with heat races and transfer races. How you finish in the heats determines which of the transfer features you’ll be in. Last year, Allgaier called it the “alphabet soup of features,” and it typically starts with a letter. In 2016, that meant there was a D Main, a C Main and a B Main, with cars transferring up the ladder to the A Main. This year, 342 cars are entered (in 2017 it was 358), meaning about 90 cars per night will race.

The top three finishers each night are locked into the 55-lap A-Main on Saturday night, while the next four go to the B-Main and so on down the line. It is not uncommon for upwards of 14 or 15 “alphabet” races to be contested on Saturday night prior to the championship A-Main. The top six finishers in each of the two B-Mains on Saturday fill out the starting field for the A-Main on the quarter-mile dirt oval.

Among the dozens of drivers participating, there remains a strong JR Motorsports connection, too. Former JRM driver Alex Bowman has cars entered, and Kasey Kahne will also drive in this year’s event as well. JRM pilot from 2013 Brad Sweet will drive one of Kahne’s cars, and Kyle Larson, who drove once for JRM’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team in 2015, is also entered.

Allgaier said the field itself was very diverse, and that appeals to him.

“The coolest part for me is it is a very eclectic group of drivers,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a drag racer, a motorcycle racer, a midget driver, a sprint car driver, a NASCAR driver...it doesn’t matter. This is one of those places where it’s come one, come all, and as many cars as you can pack in this building, let’s pack them in. It’s crazy the amount of talented racing drivers that show up every year who, on any given time wherever it is that they’re racing, they could win the feature. You’re going to face 60 or 70 of those guys a night.

“There’s nowhere in the country that has the format, the number of cars, the allure of winning that Golden Driller trophy. It’s as popular as many Formula One trophies or NASCAR or IndyCar trophies. It’s something that people will spend as much money and time as they have to to go and win that little golden trophy.”

With so many drivers and cars in the mix, getting through the prelims is difficult at best.

“The hardest part is you never know who you’re going to race against,” Allgaier said. “It’s all about ‘what heat race did I draw, who is in my heat race and how many cars do I have to pass?’ There are so many variables.  It’s also a week long, from Monday to Saturday. That screws people up more than they realize, especially if you race either early or late in the week.

“You’re either getting it over with early or you’re waiting around a while, or vice versa. Trying to wade through that and not let the anticipation get too great. Everyone goes into this race and they want to win the Chili Bowl. The first 10 laps you get on the race track, they’ve managed to screw that up because they’re so overly pumped up and amped. You have to be there at the end.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • November 3 04:30 PM ET
    O’Reilly Auto Parts 300*Texas Motor Speedway
  • November 10 03:30 PM ET
    Whelen Trusted to Perform 200*ISM Raceway
  • November 17 03:30 PM ET
    Ford EcoBoost 300*Homestead-Miami Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Kansas Lottery 300*

Kansas Speedway | 10/20/2018
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Daniel Hemric (P)30670
2Elliott Sadler (P)3058-9
3Tyler Reddick # (P)3055-12
4Christopher Bell # (P)3045-22
5Matt Tifft (P)3044-23
6Justin Allgaier (P)3040-27
7Cole Custer (P)3022-45
13Michael Annett562-2505