CONCORD, N.C — In hindsight, Justin Allgaier knows he should have been “very happy.” Perhaps even elated.
The JR Motorsports driver had just finished second in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
That was in addition to Allgaier leading a career-high 157 laps on the way to winning his second $100,000 prize in the Dash 4 Cash competition.
“That was huge and we left as disappointed as I’ve been in many years,”Allgaier said Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Allgaier’s frustration stemmed from the ToyotaCare 250’s finish. In overtime, Allgaier was battling Kyle Larson for the lead when a three-car accident occurred on the backstretch.
By that time, Larson and Allgaier were in Turn 3 beyond the overtime line, meaning the race was effectively in the books. But while caution lights were flashing around the track, the flagman at the start-finish line was waving the white flag and not the caution flag.
A confused Larson and Allgaier then powered around the .75-mile track one more time. No matter the result, Larson was still the winner. A NASCAR executive later clarified that caution lights take precedent over what flag is displayed.
Afterward, an upset Allgaier approached a NASCAR official who happened to be standing near the front of his No. 7 Chevrolet in the post-race chaos and began speaking his mind.
“I’ll be honest with you, in post-race, looking back at the replay of the race, I unloaded on an official that really had no idea what I was even talking about,” Allgaier said. “He didn’t even know there was a caution at the end of the race I don’t think. His eyes were about the size of soft balls.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t really even care that he didn’t know what I was talking about. I just needed to say what I needed to say and get it off my chest.”
After a career performance, Allgaier felt he had been robbed of his second win of the season. That’s a feat he’s never accomplished in a NASCAR career that includes four Xfinity wins since 2010.
But it’s the circumstances of Allgaier’s career that also informed the reaction of the driver who sits second in the points standings after eight races.
Two years ago, the native of Riverton, Illinois, found himself without a NASCAR ride after two seasons in the Cup Series with HScott Motorsports, which left the sport after last year Those two seasons were filled with disappointment as Allgaier finished in the top 10 once (Bristol spring race in 2015) and placed 29th and 30th in the points.
“Coming off of the Cup Series and the situation and the hand that we were dealt, I wasn’t sure, to be honest with you, if I was ever going to race again after 2015,” Allgaier said. “The fact I had that opportunity at the end of 2015 was huge for me, trying to make the most of it. I spent last year really trying to just get my head back in the game. There was a lot of days there two years ago where I spent wondering why I was still coming to the race track every week.”
Allgaier found a life raft in the Xfinity Series with the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Though he didn’t win in 2016, the 30-year-old Allgaier earned 13 top fives and made it to the championship four. He left Miami third in the standings, tying his career-best result from 2011.
This season, in addition to his Phoenix win, Allgaier has three top fives and led 242 laps. The laps led are already a career best in seven full-time Xfinity seasons.
“Last year, it took a lot of effort to get back into the game and to push myself to go to the race track every week and be competitive,” Allgaier said. “We’ve been fortunate to do that. We ended last season strong, we came into this season strong. It’s been really good.”
Good enough for Allgaier to get a little angry.