Getty Images

In up-and-down season, Justin Allgaier gets reward in special helmet

Leave a comment

Justin Allgaier is having an odd year in the Xfinity Series and he’ll end that year with an odd, special helmet.

At first glance, the JR Motorsports driver is having arguably the best season of his NASCAR career.

Through 14 races he’s the only Xfinity regular with two wins – his second win in 2017 didn’t come until race 26.

Allgaier leads the series in laps led with 458 (Kyle Busch is second with 225), and with seven top fives he’s in position to exceed his 2017 total (10).

But then you take a closer look.

Allgaier has four DNFs, three more than at this point last year. His average finish is 12.7, compared to his total of 11.5 at this point a year ago.

Also he enters Saturday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) sixth in the standings, a result of a 25-point penalty following his Dover win for a post-race inspection violation. He would be fourth without the penalty.

“The good stats are better than they’ve ever been,” Allgaier told NBC Sports. “But the bad stats are really hurting us. .. I’ll be honest, I’ve made some mistakes this year that I have been frustrated at myself for making. But on the flip side of it, I think the speed has come because we’ve laid it all out on the table. We’ve pushed ourselves to be the best team we can be. I think from my standpoint those crashes have been tough.”

Three of Allgaier’s four DNFs have been the result of crashes. Those came at Daytona and in consecutive weekends following his Dover win at Charlotte and Pocono. He finished in the top 10 in both stages at Charlotte and Stage 2 at Pocono before his wrecks.

“I think I’ve learned more this year in the DNFs and the odd races than I’ve probably learned in the last four or five years in all of the good races,” Allgaier said. “The worst part is those bad ones, the running position of where we were running whenever we crashed would have easily takes some of the heartache out of what we’ve had to go through. I think that’s what makes or breaks a season, is being able to overcome those bad days and push yourself forward. Our team has been very resilient. I’m excited about the playoffs. We’re in the playoffs, we can keep pushing hard. I think once we get to the playoffs, I think we’re going to have a great shot at making our way back to Homestead and trying to go for that championship again.”

Ahead of Allgaier in the standings are Christopher Bell, teammate Tyler Reddick, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and points leader Elliott Sadler.

Bell and Reddick are the only drivers out of that group who have won this season.

Even with his two wins and other impressive stats, Allgaier feels his No. 7 team is overlooked compared to the younger drivers and his teammate in Sadler.

“Oh, 100 percent,” Allgaier said. “But I’m OK with that. I’m not the type that needs the glitz and the glamour really of being the favorite. … I think a lot of times I work better whenever there’s no pressure. You just go out there and you do your job and if you run good, you run good.”

All the pressure on Allgaier to make the playoffs has been eased following his win at Iowa two weeks ago. Allgaier’s team had briefly qualified through his Dover win before NASCAR’s penalty.

Allgaier isn’t the only one happy that he’s actually in the playoffs. His daughter Harper has a special reason to see her dad going for the championship.

Last year, during his team’s celebration for winning the regular season-finale at Chicagoland, Harper surprised Allgaier with a helmet she painted for him to use during the seven-race postseason.

Affinity for artwork runs in the family. Allgaier is a graphic design enthusiast who made the decals for his own race cars throughout his career. He caught the bug from his father, who taught him to draw in 3D, and his grandfather, who made figures out of tree bark and even made a drawing of him winning the Daytona 500.

Allgaier promised Harper he’d let her design his helmet again this season if he made the playoffs.

“I’ve basically told her she has free rein,” Allgaier said. “I’ve always been into that. I’ve always been into my helmets. To see my daughter kind of take that serious and really enjoy that time was cool to me. I’m open to whatever she wants to try to do. I think it’s going to be really cool whatever they come up with. We’ll see how it plays out. I know she’s already got some ideas. She wants a unicorn on there, which I thought was a little interesting. She wants lots of glitter. I feel the next one is going to have lots of glitter on it.”



Cup playoff clinching scenarios to make Round of 12

Leave a comment

The first elimination race of the Cup playoffs has arrived in the form of Bristol Motor Speedway.

Tonight’s 500-lap race on the short track will determine which drivers make up the Round of 12.

Three drivers have locked themselves into the second round. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski earned their spots via race wins at Darlington and Richmond. Denny Hamlin clinched a spot via points.

More: Brad Keselowski on pole for Bristol

That leaves nine spots for 13 drivers to compete for.

If there is a new winner, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 10th winless driver in the standings.

Joey Logano – would clinch with 7 points: 51 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Logano has finished third in the last two playoff races (at Darlington and Richmond). Has made 23 starts at Bristol posting one pole, two wins, six top fives and 10 top 10s. Logano’s average finish is 15.3.

Martin Truex Jr. – would clinch with 20 points: 38 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Earned 22nd-place finish at Darlington and second-place finish at Richmond. Has made 29 series starts at Bristol posting two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish is 20.6.

Austin Dillon – would clinch with 21 points: 36 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Dillion has a runner-up finish at Darlington and a fourth-place result last weekend at Richmond. Has 13 starts at Bristol posting one top five and three top 10s. His average finish is 17.3.

Chase Elliott – Would clinch with 30 points: 28 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Elliott finished 20th at Darlington and fifth at Richmond. Has made nine starts at Bristol and has one pole, three top fives and four top 10s. Average finish is 12.6.

Alex Bowman – would clinch with 31 points: 27 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowman placed sixth at Darlington and ninth at Richmond. Has made nine series starts at Bristol with one top five and two top 10s. His average finish is 22.6.

Kyle Busch – would clinch with 40 points: Just 18 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Has seventh-place finish at Darlington and a sixth-place finish at Richmond. Has made 30 Cup starts at Bristol posting two poles and a series-leading eight wins among active drivers.

Aric Almirola – would clinch with 51 points: Seven points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Finished ninth at Darlington and eighth at Richmond. Has made 22 starts at Bristol with one top five and two top 10s. His average finish is 25.0.

Kurt Busch – would clinch with 51 points: Seven points ahead of the cutoff sport. Almirola holds the tiebreaker of best finish in the current playoff round. Busch has finished eighth at Darlington and 13th at Richmond. Has 39 Cup starts at Bristol with one pole, six wins, 12 top fives and 21 top 10s. Average finish is 14th.

Clint Bowyer – would clinch with 55 points: Three points over cutoff. Finished 10th at Darlington and Richmond. Bowyer has made 29 Cup starts at Bristol with eight top fives and 16 top 10s. Average finish is 13.6.

William Byron (-3 points from cutoff; would need help to clinch): Finished fifth at Darlington and 21st at Richmond. Five Cup starts at Bristol with one top 10. Average finish of 17.2.

Cole Custer (-8 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 12th at Darlington and 14th at Richmond. Finished 25th in lone Bristol Cup start.

Matt DiBenedetto (-25 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 21st at Darlington and 17th at Richmond. Eleven Cup starts at Bristol with one top five and one top 10. Average finish of 19.1.

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney is last on the 16 driver playoff grid heading into Bristol. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney (-27 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 24th at Darlington and 19th at Richmond. Ten Cup starts at Bristol with one top five and three other top 10s. Average finish of 20.7.

More: Blaney and DiBenedetto seek history to advance to second round

Should there be a repeat winner Saturday – Harvick or Keselowski – the following drivers would advance to the next round by being ahead of the 11th winless driver in the standings.

Joey Logano: Would clinch with 4 points

Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 17 points

Austin Dillon: Would clinch with 18 points

Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 27 points

Alex Bowman: Would clinch with 28 points

Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 37 points

Aric Almirola: Would clinch with 48 points

Kurt Busch: Would clinch with 48 points

Clint Bowyer: Would clinch with 52 points

William Byron: Would clinch with 55 points

Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.

Chase Briscoe wins Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway

1 Comment

Chase Briscoe took the lead with six laps to go and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which marked the end of the regular season.

Briscoe passed Austin Cindric to assume the lead and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. The victory is his series-leading seventh of the season.

“I was so mad after last week (at Richmond),” Briscoe told NBCSN. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable. … I finished second here the last two races and I wanted to win here so bad and it’s awesome that I can actually celebrate it with all these race fans.”

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

More: Race results, playoff standings

Allgaier dominated the early portion of the race, leading 126 laps and winning the first two stages. But he lost the lead for good in the pits during the Stage 2 break.

Brandon Brown finished 12th and clinched the 12th and final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ross Chastain led three times for 117 laps, but had to settle for his fifth runner-up finish of the season without a win … Austin Cindric earned his 13th top-10 finish in the last 14 races … Harrison Burton earned his 13th top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brett Moffitt finished 27th after he had to pit three times in the opening laps and was penalized for taking fuel before the competition caution … BJ McLeod finished 34th after he was eliminated in a multi-car wreck that began when he made contact with teammate Jeffrey EarnhardtMichael Annett finished 31st and Joe Graf Jr. placed 27th after they were involved in an incident on Lap 120.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I hit pit road and I wanted to cry.” – Ross Chastain after he finished second for the fifth time this year. He is winless entering the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on NBCSN.


Fans not allowed at Las Vegas races

Fans not allowed
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Spectators will be not be allowed for any of the NASCAR playoff races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the track announced Friday night.

A press release said only essential personnel will be allowed to attend the Cup, Xfinity and Truck playoff races there.

“To say we’re disappointed that we will conduct the South Point 400 playoff weekend without fans would be a gross understatement,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. “Our staff has been working – many of them remotely – since the February Pennzoil 400 to prepare the speedway for our playoff tripleheader.

“But we must adhere to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive that limits gatherings due to COVID-19.  While we disagree with this policy, we have no choice but to oblige.  We certainly regret this situation for the thousands of race fans who won’t be able to attend our NASCAR-weekend events.”

Nevada’s re-opening plan does not permit fans at sporting events, concerts. Groups are limited to 50 or fewer people.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced last month that they would not have fans at any of the team’s home games in its inaugural season there.

The Truck playoff race will be at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 on FS1. The Xfinity playoff opener will be at  7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 26 on NBCSN. The Cup playoff race will be 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Fans holding tickets for those events will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.