It’s Chili Bowl Week, and Allgaier, Elledge Are Ready to Rumble

Ron Lemasters | 1/15/2020

Chili Bowl Justin Allgaier Karsyn Elledge News

JRM will be well represented this week at the Tulsa Expo Center in the annual Chili Bowl Nationals in Oklahoma with Justin Allgaier and Karsyn Elledge set to compete to win the Golden Driller in Saturday's A-Main Feature.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 15, 2020) – Every winter, the open-wheel clans gather for the annual Chili Bowl Nationals. 2020 is certainly no exception, and as in the past several editions of the midwinter

Tonight, in the third round of prelims, Karsyn Elledge, daughter of JRM General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller, will take to the tiny Tulsa Expo Raceway inside the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Okla. in the No. 08K Dave Mac Motorsports Spike. On Friday night, JRM NASCAR Xfinity Series Most Popular Driver winner Justin Allgaier will do the same in his No. 7A Team Ripper/Allgaier Racing Shocks Ripper.

Each of the five qualifying nights will see the top two finishers in the A feature lock themselves into Saturday’s 55-lap A-Main for all the marbles. Each driver’s performance on qualifying night earns points, and that determines where the drivers will start in Saturday’s preliminary features. The finishes in those will fill out the remainder of the “alphabet soup” features that will eventually result in the field for the final race being filled.

Among the others with JRM ties entered into the massive open-wheel extravaganza include Kyle Larson, Brad Sweet and Alex Bowman, all of whom have competed in JRM machinery in past years.

For the 33-year-old Allgaier, an Illinois native, it’s an opportunity to make the A-Main for the fourth time. He previously made the final race in 2006, 2007 and 2009, with a best finish of third in 2007. Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart won that year, with J.J. Yeley in second.

Last year, Allgaier was set up to advance on Saturday after starting the day in the second C-Main. Contact with another car on the tight indoor oval resulted in a bent radius rod, and that made his car hard to steer. After several laps, Allgaier decided to pull off and save the car for another day. He was 17th in the final rundown and did not transfer to the B-Main.

This year, he’s focused on moving forward.

“I’m excited,” he said. “Obviously, for me only doing this once a year, you struggle with finding the happy spot between managing emotions and the thought process of going into the weekend trying to make sure you’re being the best you can be. I love the Chili Bowl week and the excitement of the weekend, and there’s always a lot of thought that goes into it. We want to be competitive and we want to go try to win a (Golden) Driller. That’s the ultimate goal. If you’re not putting the time, energy and effort into it, that’s just not going to happen.”

This year, he’ll do it in a house car from Team Ripper rather than his own family-owned machine. “We’ve run a Ripper chassis owned by my dad here before, and we sold our car and we’re running for Team Ripper. It’s got a great engine and it’s a great car, and it all comes down to Chili Bowl luck.”

Luck, as Allgaier is fond of saying, is when opportunity meets preparation. Over the last couple of tries in Tulsa, that has been hard to come by, he said.

“It seems like when the opportunities have come, we haven’t been prepared, and when we’ve been prepared, the opportunities haven’t come,” he explained. “At this place, there are so many good drivers and so many good cars. If you draw a heat that is abnormally talented or draw too far in the back or front...you have to make sure you get the most passing points that you can while still finishing at a high level. That’s important. That’s one part of it. The other is just not doing it all the time. Sometimes you don’t put yourself in the perfect position. It’s all about putting us in the right position. I know I have the car to do it, I know I have the ability to go do it. I just have to make sure I put all the pieces together.”

Racing midgets once a year, in an event of the size and scope of the Chili Bowl, can be problematic in terms of comfort levels. In 2020, that hasn’t been a problem, Allgaier said.

“The last few years during practice, I’ve been really out of sorts in practice, uncomfortable and everything seems wrong,” he said. “The seat position is off, the belts are uncomfortable or the steering wheel is at a little bit of a wrong angle. This year, I sat down in the car and I felt really, really comfortable. I pulled out on the track and ran our hot-lap session and it just felt natural, more like what it did years ago when I was running these cars more often. I’m excited for that. As we go through the night, it’s going to be interesting to see where everything is at. I feel confident, feel good about where the program is.”

As he has the last two years, JRM crew chief Jason Burdett will accompany his driver to the event. It will be the New York native’s second week-long trek to the annual event in support of his NXS driver. Allgaier is appreciative.

“What’s nice about having Jason out here with us is, he’s taking time out of his life to come and hang out and enjoy being out here together,” Allgaier said. “It builds the relationship, because you have to have a strong bond. I feel like every year that he’s come out here it has solidified that bond, made it better for us when we go to the NASCAR races. It’s made it better and it’s really cool.”

Elledge, who made her first attempt last year without a lot of time in a midget under her belt, is ready to roll tonight. “The atmosphere here is awesome, really calm,” she said. “Everyone is ready. It’s exciting, and you put some high expectations on yourself, but we’re pretty calm, cool and collected. I’m ready to get going.”

As 2019 was her first season competing in one of the toughest open-wheel disciplines there is, there was a lot of learning that had to be done along the way. Despite some growing pains, she finished 14th in the USAC National Midget point standings for Tucker/Boat Motorsports. That experience was hard-won, and she’s counting on it to help her in Tulsa.

“Last year was pretty rough; it was the first time I had seen a lot of those tracks we were going to,” she said. “Every night it was a new learning curve for me. We had success here (at the Chili Bowl) last year, so I’m hoping to carry what I learned here forward to this season. I haven’t raced since November, so it’s going to take a couple of minutes to get back into the groove of things, but I’m really excited. This year, I have a whole season under my belt now. There’s not a lot of super-duper high expectations. That’s a big piece of it, having your mind right. I think I’m in a good head space, and I’m ready to see what we can do.”

In her first qualifying heat race in Tulsa, Elledge earned a victory by holding off a charging Shane Golobic to win the eight-lap prelim. In the feature, she was involved in a multi-car crash and finished 11th in the second B-Main. On Saturday, she won the H-Main to advance, but crashed out in the G-Main to end her weekend.

One of the things she has to do to advance more easily is score points, as many as she can.

“There’s a lot of things that can go wrong and just a handful of things that can go right, so you have to focus on getting as many passing points as you can, make sure you minimize your mistakes and capitalize on everybody else’s,” she said. “Those points are so huge, and passing cars is going to be huge.”

Stay tuned for updates from the 34th annual Chili Bowl Nationals on both Elledge and Allgaier. For those interested in tuning into the prelim telecasts, the pay-per-view link is here. Saturday’s A-Main championship race will be televised by MAVTV.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • February 29 04:00 PM ET
    Production Alliance Group 300Auto Club Speedway
  • March 7 04:00 PM ET
    LS Tractor 200Phoenix Raceway
  • March 14 04:00 PM ET
    Atlanta 250Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • March 21 03:30 PM ET
    Miami 300Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • March 28 01:00 PM ET
    My Bariatric Solutions 300Texas Motor Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Boyd Gaming 300

Las Vegas Motor Speedway | 2/22/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Chase Briscoe920
2Noah Gragson85-7
3Harrison Burton #80-12
4Michael Annett77-15
5Brandon Jones76-16
6Austin Cindric75-17
7Ryan Sieg73-19
8Justin Haley73-19
9Justin Allgaier70-22