Justin Allgaier balancing teammate dynamic while fighting for wins


Through three races, JR Motorsports has been the class of the Xfinity Series field and its drivers sit first, fourth, fifth and ninth in points.

Yet the four-car operation remains winless. Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry and Sam Mayer have each contended for wins and led laps, but none has gone to Victory Lane this season.

What’s worse: those races have featured disgruntled teammates. On a restart with 20 laps to go last weekend in Las Vegas, Allgaier lined up as the leader in the outside lane with Gragson tucked behind him. But instead of a helpful push from his teammate, Allgaier found himself stuck in the middle three-wide exiting Turn 2 while Gragson motored to his outside for the lead.

One week earlier, Allgaier found himself in the outside wall at Auto Club after slight contact from Berry at the exit of Turn 2 (coincidentally, also with 20 laps to go).

Balancing each teammates’ emotions while also contending for victory has been an “interesting” dynamic for the veteran of the team in Allgaier.

“Very rarely do you have all four cars or all the cars in one organization that are equally capable of running up front and battling for wins,” Allgaier said in a Wednesday Zoom availability. “And I think managing that, it’s been a challenge because obviously, we all want to win for our teams and for our sponsors and for everybody. But managing that, I think, is a really tough situation, especially knowing that we could easily have four cars in that (Championship 4) when it comes down to getting later into the year when we go back to Phoenix.”

The choose rule dictated the final restart with five laps to go last week in Vegas. As the leader, Gragson opted for the outside lane while Ty Gibbs chose the inside of the front row. Daniel Hemric in third followed Gragson high. In fourth, Allgaier found himself in a box.

If Allgaier went to the outside lane, he would be third in line and have at least four cars to carve through. The inside gave him the chance to line up right behind the front row and more realistically fight for the win — even if it meant pushing a rival car past his teammate.

“When Daniel chose the outside, really, at that point, the only option was to take the bottom behind Ty,” Allgaier said. “The options were either go to third or fall all the way back to sixth.”

In the end, it was Gibbs who pulled through for the victory, thanks in large part to a helpful push from Allgaier’s Chevrolet.

Allgaier, now winless in his last 27 starts, couldn’t help but notice frustration from fans on social media who thought he ditched Gragson to work against him. In reality, Allgaier, who led a race-high 62 laps, was fourth and was trying to maximize his results.

“One of the things that we’re very adamant on (at JRM) is we’ve got to push each other and help each other,” said Allgaier, who finished fifth in Vegas. “But at the end of the day, when it comes down to trying to win a race, you got to go out there and if you feel like you have a shot at winning the race, you’ve got to do everything you can to try to win. …

“I felt like at the end of the race there, we still had a shot at trying to win. And not that I didn’t want to see (Gragson) win — I was hoping that he would win. But at that point, my best option was to push (Gibbs) not even just to try to get the win, but to limit the damage of how far back we fell in that last restart.”

Gragson is the series points leader after an astounding start to the season with finishes of third (Daytona) and two runner-up efforts (Auto Club, Vegas). Fourth is Allgaier, fifth Berry and ninth Mayer.

The series shifts to Phoenix, which has historically been one of Allgaier’s best tracks. As noted in a JRM press release, Allgaier ranks first in laps led (493), laps run inside the top 15 (4,264) and in fastest laps run (298) according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics.

Don’t let his winless streak fool you either. Since last winning in May 2021 at Darlington, Allgaier has netted 16 top fives and 23 top 10s, including a current streak of 15 straight. His last finish worse than 12th came at Mid-Ohio in June 2021, when he finished 35th.

The last time Allgaier had 15 consecutive top-10 finishes, back in 2019, the Illinois native didn’t win either. But he did score his 16th straight top 10 with a win the next week at Phoenix.

This year, though, Allgaier feels he’s been the organization’s weak, citing poor qualifying (an average start of 17.7) and the speed with which adjustments need to be made between practice and qualifying. That hasn’t dampened his expectations heading back to Arizona.

“Phoenix is kind of the one place that everybody feels at home,” Allgaier said, “whether that’s Jason Burdett, my crew chief, or any of our guys on our team. … We’ve all got a great comfortability whenever it comes to going to Phoenix, and I think we have the opportunity to go there and to run good.

“It’s obviously changed a lot since they originally put on the PJ1. Now we have the resin. It’s going to be interesting to see kind of what it races like. But I think, as a team and as an organization, that’s been a great racetrack for us, and especially our No. 7 team. So, we’re going to go there, we’re going to give it the same effort we’ve been giving it all year.”

The Xfinity race is set for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

Alpha Prime Racing’s road woes don’t keep team from competing


SONOMA, Calif. — Alpha Prime Racing owner Tommy Joe Martins laughs. He can. His Xfinity Series cars all are here at Sonoma Raceway.

At one point last week, it was not certain if his team’s cars would make it to Portland International Raceway.

“It was probably the toughest professional week I’ve had of my NASCAR career,” Martins told NBC Sports on Friday at Sonoma.

MORE: Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma

The Alpha Prime Racing team had both its trucks break down and one of its haulers have mechanical issues last week on the way to the Pacific Northwest.

“We basically sent four pieces of equipment on the road and three of them broke,” Martins said.

For a time, the car Sage Karam is driving this weekend at Sonoma was left in a hauler in Kansas City because there wasn’t room in the dually Martins sent. It had room only for the car that was needed at Portland and other equipment. Karam’s car, which was to be a backup at Portland, was left behind.

“It’s a very helpless feeling when you feel like your stuff is stuck on the side of the road,” Martins said.

He still has one truck still in St. Louis and another in Oregon. Martins estimates the mechanical issues will cost his team about $50,000 when everything is totaled.

Trouble started well before the team left its Mooresville, North Carolina, race shop for Portland.

The Xfinity Series race at Charlotte was scheduled to run May 27. Rain forced that event to be rescheduled to May 29. Martins said the team had planned to send its trucks to Portland on May 28. With the race pushed back to the 29th, the travel schedule tightened.

It got worse.

After the Xfinity race started, rain came. With the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled for 3 p.m. ET that day – after being delayed by rain from Sunday – the rest of the Xfinity race was pushed back until after the 600. That further tightened the window on Xfinity teams to make it to Portland.

The Xfinity race ended around 11:30 p.m. ET on May 29. Alpha Prime Racing’s haulers left the shop around 6 a.m. ET on May 30.

The two trucks traveled together until issues in St. Louis.

The truck hauling the Nos. 44 and 45 cars had engine issues in St. Louis. The other truck kept going until it had mechanical issues with its hauler in Kansas City. The air bags on the hauler failed.

So, Alpha Prime Racing had a truck that worked in Kansas City with a hauler that didn’t and a truck that didn’t work in St. Louis with a hauler that did.

The truck in Kansas City went back to St. Louis to attach to the hauler and take those cars and equipment to Portland. Martins then had to find something to haul the stranded equipment in Kansas City and a driver. He eventually did. A dually left North Carolina for Kansas City. Once there, what fit in the dually was taken to Portland and what didn’t, including Karam’s Sonoma car stayed behind.

Yet, more trouble was headed for Martins and his team.

The truck that had gone back from Kansas City to St. Louis to take hauler that worked then broke down about 200 miles from Portland.

“I laugh knowing that we’re on the other side of it,” Martins said Friday of all the issues his team had transporting cars and equipment across the country.

“We’ve started to make plans and corrections for it not happening again,” he said.

That hauler that was left in Kansas City? It was repaired and transported to Sonoma, arriving earlier this week.

“Our guys are troopers,” Martins said. “Both of our (truck) drivers were just awesome about the whole thing. … They went through hell week as far as driving somewhere, fly back and pick something up, drive again and now are going to have to do the same thing getting back.”

When the garage opened Friday at Sonoma, Alpha Prime Racing had all its cars.

“I don’t think we had any major issues here, so that was good,” Martins said.

The focus is back on the track. Karam was 24th on the speed chart in Friday’s practice, leading Alpha Prime Racing’s effort. Dylan Lupton was 32nd. Jeffrey Earnhardt was last among 41 cars.

After Saturday night’s race, the team heads back to North Carolina for a well-earned weekend off.

Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Xfinity Series practice at Sonoma Raceway.

This is the first time the series has raced at the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California. Teams got 50 minutes of practice Friday.

Larson led the way with a lap of 90.392 mph. He was more than a second faster than the rest of the field.

MORE: Xfinity practice results Sonoma

Sheldon Creed was second on the speed chart with a lap of 89.066 mph. He was followed by AJ Allmendinger (89.052 mph), Cole Custer (89.020) and Ty Gibbs (88.989).

Larson, Allmendinger and Gibbs are among seven Cup drivers are entered in the Xfinity race. Aric Almirola was seventh on the speed chart with a lap of 88.750 mph. Ross Chastain was ninth with a lap of 88.625 mph. Daniel Suarez was 16th with a lap of 88.300 mph. Ty Dillon was 33rd with a lap of 86.828 mph.

Anthony Alfredo will go to a backup car after a crash in practice. He was uninjured in the incident that damaged the right side of his car.

Qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET Saturday. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday.

Anthony Alfredo’s car after a crash in Xfinity practice Friday at Sonoma Raceway. He was uninjured. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Saturday Sonoma Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


The Xfinity Series will compete for the first time at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. This is one of eight road course events on the Xfinity schedule this season.

Seven Cup drivers are scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race, including AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, who won last year’s Cup race at this track Allmendinger has won 11 of 25 career road course starts in the Xfinity Series.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Golden State Warrior Patrick Baldwin Jr. will give the command to start engines at 8:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:20 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. … Driver introductions begin at 7:35 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Earl Smith, team pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, at 8 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by 9-year-old Isis Mikayle Castillo at 8:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 79 laps (156.95 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 20. Stage 2 ends at Lap 45.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 8 p.m. ... Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be heard on goprn.com. … SiriusXN NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mostly cloudy with a high of 72 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: This is the first time the Xfinity Series has raced at Sonoma.


NASCAR Friday schedule at Sonoma Raceway


The Xfinity Series makes its first appearance Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Xfinity teams, coming off last weekend’s race at Portland International Raceway, get 50 minutes of practice Friday because Sonoma is a new venue for the series.

Seven Cup drivers, including Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, are among those entered in the Xfinity race. Suarez won the Cup race at Sonoma last year.

Xfinity teams will qualify and race Saturday at the 1.99-mile road course.

Sonoma Raceway


Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees.

Friday, June 9

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — ARCA Menards Series West
  • 1 – 10 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2 – 3 p.m. — ARCA West practice
  • 3:10 – 3:30 p.m. — ARCA West qualifying
  • 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 p.m. — ARCA West race (64 laps, 127.36 miles; live on FloRacing, will air on CNBC at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 18)