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As weather heats up, Justin Allgaier feels ‘like myself’ on track

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Two weeks ago defending Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick sounded a warning.

“Definitely, as we get into the summer stretch you can’t forget about Justin Allgaier,” Reddick told NBC Sports. “Trying to forget about him is exactly when we’re going to get in trouble and that’s when he’s going to pop his head back into the race and make himself known.”

Reddick almost ate his words last weekend on a hot and humid day at Charlotte Motor Speedway when he had to fend off a charge from Allgaier over the final 14 laps.

Allgaier emerged from a field that had been picked apart as many drivers – Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer and Brandon Jones – fell out of contention or the race due to contact with the wall and the resulting cut tires.

Allgaier couldn’t catch Reddick, but he earned his fifth top five of the season, all of which have been in the top three. He enters this weekend’s race at Pocono with consecutive runner-up finishes.

This current stretch was preceded by one where the JR Motorsports driver failed to finish better than ninth over five races, including at Bristol where he led 138 laps and fell out with a right front hub failure.

“You know what’s disappointing is we had way more speed at the beginning of the year and we didn’t have the finishes to show for it,” Allgaier said after Saturday’s race. “Now I don’t feel like we’re quite as fast, but we’ve got the finishes to show for it.

“This team has got a great effort, a lot of instinctual effort. I think that’s what’s saving us right now. We got a really solid crew. These summer months when it’s hot and slick like this, that’s when I feel like myself, personally, but also JR Motorsports excels. So I’m looking forward to the summer.”

Allgaier and the rest of the Xfinity Series won’t have to experience the heat they did in Charlotte this weekend at Pocono. The high Saturday is forecast at 75 degrees by wunderground.com.

Allgaier will try to improve his record at Pocono. In three Xfinity starts, he has two DNFs for wrecks and a second-place finish in 2017 after he led 13 laps.

He does have an ARCA win at the “Tricky Triangle” in 2008.

“I love racing at Pocono,” Allgaier said in a media release. “(Crew chief) Jason Burdett and our No. 7 Klondike team have done a really good job there in the past. I really like racing at tracks that are unique and aren’t necessarily your standard shape. You really have to think through all three corners. To be good in Turn 1, you’re going to struggle a little in Turn 2 and Turn 3 and vice versa. Figuring which corner you’re willing to give up a little bit of speed in order to gain the speed on the other corners is so important. I’m excited for this race. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Should Allgaier break through on the Pennsylvania track, it would be just his second win in 55 Xfinity starts on tracks 2 miles or larger. The first came last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (which inspired the design of Turn 2 at Pocono).

An Allgaier win would also be just the second for JRM in 2019.

It hasn’t found victory lane since Michael Annett won the season-opener in Daytona.