Dale Jr.: Loved the Emotion from Allgaier at Indy

Ron Lemasters | 9/12/2018

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Justin Allgaier News XFINITY Series

Any win is special for a NASCAR driver but Justin Allgaier's triumph in Monday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was extra special for many reasons.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 12, 2018) – Standing in Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway occupies the thoughts of any racing driver lucky enough to race there.

Since 1909, racing has been the top show on the west side of Indiana’s capitol city, and the names of the men who’ve won there are etched, quite literally, in history. Justin Allgaier, an Illinois native with roots in open-wheel racing, joined that club on Monday by winning the Lilly Diabetes 250 at IMS.

Standing on the front straightaway following his victory, which gave JR Motorsports a two-race winning streak at the historic track and put Allgaier firmly in the driver’s seat for the impending NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, the 32-year-old driver gave in to the feelings of the moment.

“We used to come here all the time and sat in the grandstands watching the Indy 500 and the first however many Brickyard 400s, right up there in Turn 1,” Allgaier said moments after emerging from his Dove Men+Care Chevrolet (and after he did a burnout in front of his old seats). “This one is for my dad, because he drove me up here every Wednesday night during the winter so I could take classes and be the best that I could be as not only a driver inside the car but outside the car. It was about three and a half hours, and he drove me every Wednesday night.”

Allgaier’s father, Mike, is a constant presence at his son’s races, even spotting on the road courses. The relationship between father and son is one of the lynchpins of their lives, and that emotion was well-deserved. Mike Allgaier’s nickname—somewhat due to the pronunciation of his last name—is Gator, and Justin, as his son, took on ‘Lil’ Gator’ in that tradition. The elder Allgaier has been involved in motorsports for many years in the Midwest, and that’s the environment that Justin grew up immersed in.

Hearing that raw emotion--and more than a few tears—from one of his drivers over the first-class PA system at the Brickyard, team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. found himself impressed.

“You love to see that emotion, and I told him that,” Earnhardt Jr. said today on his Dirty Mo Media podcast, the Dale Jr. Download. “I went to Victory Lane, and I told him (Allgaier), ‘hey, I love the emotion. Just let it out.’”

Allgaier wasn’t done.

“To win at the Brickyard means so much,” he said. “To put Camaro in Victory Lane here, to see these bricks...this is special. This is all about family. My wife Ashley and daughter Harper, what they do for me in this sport...this team, all these guys standing right back here who don’t get enough credit...we are a traveling family together and that is what this is all about. This is cool.”

Allgaier’s victory, his fifth of the season and third in the last five NXS races, had Earnhardt Jr. enthused.

“We’ve had an amazing season as a company,” he said. “Justin’s been amazing, our partners on that car have been so much fun, BRANDT, Dove Men+Care and everybody...it’s been a fun experience to win with everyone and see how excited they are.”

A second straight victory at IMS was nothing to sneeze at, either.

“Two back-to-back Indy wins!,” Earnhardt Jr. crowed. “That is awesome for our company. We ran first and second...how good is that?” William Byron won the race last year for JRM, outdueling former Brickyard 400 winner Paul Menard in the final laps on his way to the 2017 series championship.

Earnhardt Jr. was a few minutes away from climbing into the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 pace car to lead the field to green in the 25th running of the iconic race when Allgaier hit Victory Lane, and that put him in a bit of a pickle. Once he got finished with his pace-car duties, he had to assume his spot in Turn 3 to call the race for NBC Sports, and was decked out in network attire for the job.

All of that meant he was unable to join Allgaier and the No. 7 team in the time-honored tradition of kissing the bricks at the start/finish line. As an aside, Allgaier’s crew chief, Jason Burdett, was part of that tradition’s founding in 1996 as a member of the Robert Yates Racing team. Dale Jarrett and crew chief Todd Parrott initiated the inaugural smooch on their own, and it has been part of Brickyard lore ever since.

“We didn’t kiss the bricks,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I had my NBC stuff on. I was concerned because there’s been some hubbub on social media when I do any of the Xfinity Series races, some of the fans don’t necessarily love it because I’m an owner (in the Xfinity Series). When we won, I’m like, ‘man, I’ve got my NBC stuff on because I’m going to cover the race later.’ I’m trying to respect everybody’s opinion about my involvement in the production of the Xfinity races.

“I tried to sneak into Victory Lane and just say hey to everybody, but as soon as I walked up to Jason Burdett, (fellow NBC broadcaster) Kelli (Stavast) started an interview with him. Blew my cover.”

Undercover or in broad daylight, both Allgaier and Earnhardt Jr. gave in to the emotion that comes with winning a crown-jewel race in NASCAR.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

XFINITY Series Standings

After Ford EcoBoost 300*

Homestead-Miami Speedway | 11/17/2018
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick (P)40400
2Cole Custer (P)4035-5
3Daniel Hemric (P)4033-7
4Christopher Bell # (P)4026-14
5Elliott Sadler2255-1785
6Matt Tifft2254-1786
7Justin Allgaier2251-1789
14Michael Annett632-3408