Sustained Excellence Marks JRM’s No. 7 Team in 2019

Ron Lemasters | 11/21/2019

Brandt Justin Allgaier News XFINITY Series

A win in the penultimate race of the season and another trip to the Championship 4 highlighted Justin Allgaier's 2019 season while providing confidence for the future.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 21, 2019) – The 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season did not go the way that Justin Allgaier and crew chief Jason Burdett wanted it to. After winning five races in 2018, expectations were high. The results fell short, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

In short, all that could go wrong did, and at the worst times. Despite that, JRM’s No. 7 team was the lone Championship 4 participant for the team and would compete for the title for the third time in four seasons. A brush of the wall late in the race ended up cutting a tire and Allgaier finished a disappointing 14th.

While the results did not match expectations, the 2019 season was another banner year for the BRANDT Professional Agriculture bunch.

One victory, at ISM Raceway in the final event to determine the Championship 4, was the final takeaway from 2019, and Allgaier put on a show to win it, punching his team’s ticket to the big race a week later. It was the only victory scored by the team in 2019, but it came at the right time, and next year’s Championship 4 will wrap the season at...ISM Raceway, not Homestead-Miami Speedway.

That’s a plus.

The numbers are solid, too. In 33 starts, Allgaier won once, logged 16 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes and led 607 laps. The top-five total (16) was the second-best in his four seasons with JRM, by one to 2018, and his 607 laps led was the second-best to 2018 (741) as well. But what had been winning drives in 2018 were not in 2019, thanks to bad luck and circumstances.

Allgaier could have swept the races at Bristol Motor Speedway had it not been for a mechanical issue late in the spring and a flat tire in the waning laps of the summer night race. There were other instances as well. Yet Burdett, Allgaier and the rest of the veteran group on the No. 7 team rallied with consistency over the final 16 races.

Starting at Kentucky in July, Allgaier reeled off a career high 16 consecutive top-10 finishes to get back in the title race, capped by the victory at Phoenix.

“I feel like we did a great job over the summer kind of righting the ship and getting to where we neededto be,” Allgaier said during post-race interviews at Homestead. “The effort we put in to get us to this point has been huge. We pointed our way in, we had a great playoff and to get the win at Phoenix was huge.”

Burdett agreed, citing inconsistency as a primary culprit that cut down on the number of win stickers next to Allgaier’s name atop the door.

“It was disappointing through the first two thirds of the year,” Burdett said. “We weren’t able to capitalize or gain momentum. We’d have a good week and then a bad week. Then maybe a good week and a couple three bad ones. We could never get going in a rhythm and give ourselves opportunities in a row.

“Finally, over the last 10-12 races, things started falling into place and we started getting finishes. We strung a bunch of good finishes together that led up to winning at Phoenix, which obviously was the ultimate goal. At the beginning of the year, obviously, the goal is to win races and give yourself opportunities. We gave ourselves opportunities, but we didn’t capitalize on them. The win at Phoenix kind of made the year worthwhile. At one point in the year, it looked like making Homestead or winning a race or any of those things wasn’t really possible, because we kept finding ways to put ourselves in a bad spot. We finally got everything put together. Everybody worked hard all year long, but it all seemed to get right toward the end.”

The things that went so right in 2018 did not go as well in 2019, and Burdett said that was on himself and the team.

“Luck has something to do with it, but even with that said...the failure at the first Bristol should never have happened. That was a failure on us prepping the cars that shouldn't have happened. Then the flat tire at the end of the second race at Bristol, if we had pitted...we stayed out and the 2 car (Reddick) pitted one more time than we did. The fresher tires didn’t necessarily give you a speed advantage. The sidewall doesn’t blow out if we had pitted.

“Not everything is bad luck; you make your own luck. In those two instances, we made bad luck. If we win the second Bristol, then staying out was the right call. The way it ended up, it wasn’t the right call. If we had pitted at some point in there to get one less cycle on the tire and maybe the shoulder doesn’t give out with five to go.”

Comparing 2018 to 2019, it was a difference in the small things that made it all work so well in the former.

“In the end, if you go back and look at 2018, we did a better job of not making bad pit calls, not speeding on pit road, not doing the little things wrong,” he said. “Rarely are you the fastest car in all-out speed; in 2018, both road course races that we won were pit strategy. At Mid-Ohio, we weren’t very good at all and were one of the only guys to pit. That allowed us to be quite a bit better than the other guys on old tires, we drove through them and won the race. At Road America, we happened to pit and the caution comes out the next lap. We cycled to the lead and we were able to win the race. Those types of things never went our way this year; we were always fighting from behind in some way or another. There was always something we were fighting at all times.”

For next year, Burdett said that evaluation was under way as well as the usual housecleaning efforts.

“Our focus is trying to figure out what the new rules are,” he said. “Is there anything changing? We are working on a few things to improve our performance for next year. Once the rules are all out, you can sit back and say, ‘this affects this,’ and you work on your complete package for next year.”

The addition of some new technology in the JRM shop should help that, as well as some chassis modifications across the board for all four teams. “Right now, it’s getting all that stuff all squared away, to get a good game plan to start the year and have a direction.”

One bright spot for the No. 7 team for 2020 is the fact that the championship race moved to ISM Raceway rather than Homestead-Miami. The 1-mile oval is one of Allgaier’s best tracks, and he won the most recent race there.

“Hopefully, ending the season at Phoenix will be a benefit to us,” Burdett said. “The way the points are structured now, you have to move it around. It’s been at Homestead for a lot of years, four years in this format. It’s time to go somewhere else. You need to end it at different venues to give different guys opportunities. Moving to Phoenix gives a different group of people a chance to do good things.”

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