Season in Review: Allgaier Strong Again for No. 7 Team

Ron Lemasters | 12/6/2021

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The Illinois native earned a pair of victories and came within a few laps of racing for the NASCAR Xfinity Series title for the fifth time in the six seasons of the current playoff format.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Dec. 6, 2021) -- Justin Allgaier's hallmark during his tenure with JR Motorsports has been his speed and consistency. Those qualities were again on display in 2021, as the Illinois native earned a pair of victories and came within a few laps of racing for the NASCAR Xfinity Series title for the fifth time in the six seasons of the current playoff format.

In his sixth season with JRM as driver of its No. 7 Chevrolet, Allgaier posted victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway on the way to a fifth-place finish in the championship. Those victories were the first for the 35-year-old driver on those tracks, and came in the same season. The victories also both came in the opening nine races, which locked Allgaier, crew chief Jason Burdett and the No. 7 team into the playoffs early on.

A tough opening stretch plagued Allgaier, starting at Daytona International Speedway, where a crash ended his day in the opener after 104 laps. A big scramble in the closing laps on the Daytona road course put Allgaier 26th the following week, and another crash at Homestead-Miami Speedway saw him finish 38th.

From there, sitting 26th in points after just three races, Allgaier's experience and grit came to the fore.

After finishing 14th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the fourth event, Allgaier rebounded with an eighth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway before dominating the final laps at Atlanta to post his first victory of 2021. Allgaier led 47 laps on the day and held off a closing Martin Truex Jr. for the win, which was his team-best 12th for JRM. The triumph also boosted Allgaier, Burdett and the rest of the No. 7 team into the playoffs.

"When you start at Daytona in February, your goal is to win the championship," Allgaier said. "Obviously, a lot of factors play into that. I feel like for us, we fired off out of the gate really bad, major challenges right away, but then we were kind of able to put it together."

With the playoff berth assured, Allgaier continued to work on consistency and planning for the seven-race playoff series. Three races after winning at Atlanta, Allgaier did it again in a wild finish at Darlington.

Running near the front all day, Allgaier didn't lead until lap 138 of the scheduled 147-lap event and had to hold off a fast-closing JRM teammate in Josh Berry to earn the victory in a green-white-checkered finish.

"We went to Atlanta, won there, and went to Darlington and won there. We had Texas, Nashville, some of those races in the middle of the summer... If it wasn't for late-race restarts, I feel like we had chances to win there. We were able to kind of right the ship."

That seemed to open the flood gates for Allgaier, who went on a run of eight top-five finishes over the next 14 races to seat himself firmly in the championship discussion. Five of those were in the top three, and the only blemish during that run was a 35th-place result at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where a mechanical issue plagued his effort.

Over the last 12 races of 2021, Allgaier never finished outside the top 10. When the playoffs began at Las Vegas, Allgaier sat third in points with a ton of momentum for the stretch run.

In that opening race, Allgaier was the class of the field, leading 90 of the 201 laps, but Berry put together a charge that saw him lead 38 of the final 42 circuits to take the victory in JRM's No. 1 Chevrolet. Allgaier led two of those laps before his teammate swept past with 16 laps remaining.

After turning in a third-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway, Allgaier finished the Round of 12 third in the standings and easily advanced to the Round of 8. A fourth at Texas and a solid ninth at Kansas put Allgaier third in the points heading to the cutoff race at Martinsville.

Needing to be inside the top four to clinch his fifth Championship 4 appearance in six seasons, Allgaier raced to a fifth-place result only to find himself on the outside looking in at the checkered flag. Teammate Noah Gragson's victory pushed him down to fifth on the playoff grid, and Allgaier missed the final race by a scant six points.

"In the playoffs, we just didn't do what we needed to do," Allgaier said. "It's kind of disappointing. It wasn't for lack of effort or because we did anything bad. It was just like, if you called A, it was B, and if you called B it was A. It never really seemed to go our way in the playoffs.

"When you have the kind of field we had this year, the drivers we're battling with, it's so important to have every I dotted and every T crossed. Unfortunately, we missed it coming into the final round of the playoffs. We had a great season, lot of top fives and top 10s and obviously the two victories, but we left Phoenix wanting more. We left Phoenix ready to get to Daytona and get back after it in '22."

On the season, Allgaier earned two victories, 16 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes, and his ninth-place finish in the final race at Phoenix put him fifth in the series points. Allgaier led 468 laps in 2021, which boosted his career NXS total to 3,970 in 12 seasons.

Last week Allgaier was voted by fans as the Most Popular Driver in the NXS for the third consecutive season, continuing a decade of dominance by JRM in that category.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

XFINITY Series Standings

After NXS Championship

Phoenix Raceway | 11/6/2021
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Daniel Hemric (P)40400
2Austin Cindric (P)4035-5
3Noah Gragson (P)4025-15
4AJ Allmendinger (P)4023-17
5Justin Allgaier2300-1740
6Justin Haley2244-1796
7Brandon Jones2239-1801
15Michael Annett638-3402
25Sam Mayer #338-3702