JRM’s Ticket(s) to South Beach Can Be Punched in Phoenix...With Help

Ron Lemasters | 11/7/2019

Brandt Justin Allgaier Lockheed Martin Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Phoenix Pilot Flying J Playoffs XFINITY Series

We're going to Phoenix this weekend looking to put our three championship contenders in the final four for next week. We can do that... with a little help.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 7, 2019) – When the checkered flag waves on Saturday at ISM Raceway, we’ll know which four NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will duel for the series championship Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The three drivers from the JR Motorsports contingent are all hoping they’ll be in that number, but it will require the race to play out in a certain way, and there’s a heavy dose of “with help” added to the calculation.

Justin Allgaier, driver of JRM’s No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet Camaro, is in the best shape for moving on. The 32-year-old Illinois driver is currently in the top four in points, 18 ahead of fifth-place Chase Briscoe, and the 1-mile oval in the Valley of the Sun is one of Allgaier’s better tracks.

Here’s where it gets...dense. Allgaier will advance to the Championship 4 for the third time in four seasons if he wins, obviously, but if he doesn’t, there is a clear path to head to Florida with a chance at the title. If there is a repeat winner or a win by either Cole Custer or Christopher Bell, Allgaier needs 38 points at ISM to move on to the finale. He could also advance even with a new winner...and help.

“The biggest thing is to just be aggressive and try to gain as many stage points as we can gain,” Allgaier said. “We know that stage points are equally as important as getting a good finish. The hardest part for us is the unknown, who is going to separate themselves. Is there a guy that is maybe outside the top four who can go and pick up the win on strategy or raw speed? That’s going to be the difference-maker for us.

“We’ve got a great cushion in the points to this point, but on the flip side of it, that cushion is to fifth, not to fourth. We have to go and do a good job and not make any mistakes. I think we have a great shot at winning the race, not just pointing our way in. It’s just managing the race well and putting ourselves in good position.”

Allgaier has had good results on the 1-mile oval, and he developed an affinity for the quirky circle early in his career.

“The very first race I ran there I felt comfortable,” he said. “The style of track is very unique, different on both ends, which I feel suits my driving style very well. Being comfortable in the uncomfortable is sometimes a challenge, but I have made it my mission to be that way.”

Despite his comfort with it, Allgaier has a healthy respect for the track as well.

“You have to be on your A game every lap of the entire race,” he said. “It can jump out and bite you in a hurry. We have had a lot of bad luck at Phoenix, but usually when bad luck strikes we’re up front and battling for the lead or for the win. We’ve been fortunate enough to have gone to Victory Lane there and it’s just a case of managing the day so we can avoid the bad luck that has happened the last two times we’ve been there.”

The JRM playoff drivers not named Justin Allgaier have a different hill to climb.

Michael Annett, driver of JRM’s No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet, is currently sixth in the points, 28 markers behind Allgaier and 10 behind Briscoe. The 32-year-old Iowan would advance with a victory and could clinch on points...with help.

“We know what we have to do,” Annett said. “We’ve got to get every point we can to overcome the deficit, finish in the top three or five or win to make sure it puts us in Homestead with a chance at the title. We have had really fast cars all year long and my Pilot Flying J team has been awesome all year long. We know what we have to do, and now we need to go and do it.”

The same is true for Noah Gragson in the No. 9 Lockheed Martin Chevrolet. Gragson is eighth in points, 47 behind Allgaier for the final spot and 16 behind seventh-place Austin Cindric. If he wins, he’s in, and there’s still a chance for him to point his way in...with help.

“We have to win the race,” the 21-year-old Las Vegas native stated. “That’s what we have to do. We all know what is at stake this weekend and know what we need to do. This group never gives up and we will keep fighting until the end. We just need to go out there and give it everything we’ve got.”

To this point only one driver is already set for the winner-take-all event, and that is Texas winner Bell. Custer needs to win, or score 22 points with a new winner, or score just four with a repeat winner to advance. Tyler Reddick, third in points, needs to win or score 38 points with a new winner and just 20 with a repeat winner to return to the final race.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

XFINITY Series Standings

After Ford EcoBoost 300

Homestead-Miami Speedway | 11/16/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick (P)40400
2Cole Custer (P)4035-5
3Christopher Bell (P)4032-8
4Justin Allgaier (P)4023-17
5Chase Briscoe #2302-1738
6Austin Cindric2294-1746
7John Hunter Nemechek #2253-1787
8Noah Gragson #2246-1794
9Michael Annett2239-1801