CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Justin Allgaier believes JR Motorsports’ chances of success in the Xfinity Series in 2020 will be improved thanks to a less is more approach to the driver lineup of one of its cars.
The 2019 season saw nine drivers pilot JRM’s only part-time entry, the No. 8 Chevrolet, over 33 races. For Allgaier, that revolving door played at least a part in the team’s struggles, where Michael Annett won the season-opening race at Daytona and the team didn’t win again until Allgaier’s victory at ISM Raceway in race No. 32.
“We started off a little bit behind the 8-ball, didn’t quite have the speed we were looking for and that really didn’t set us up well for the rest of the season,” Allgaier said Friday night at the Xfinity and Truck Series Awards Banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center. “We just felt like no matter what we did we were stuck in that same routine week-in and week-out. We were in a little bit of a different position having the 8 car being not a full-time driver, kind of understanding that model and how we maximize that. I think we’ve done a lot better job of that in the end of the season.”
Allgaier also shoulders blame for JRM’s fewest wins since it had two in 2012.
“I just didn’t do a good job,” Allgaier said. “As a veteran of the sport and being lucky enough to be in this sport for a number of years, I needed to do a better job, not only with myself and my 7 team, but trying to help my teammates and understanding what we all needed to be better. I think as we got later into the season we started gelling a lot better and I felt like whether it was Zane (Smith) or Jeb (Burton) or any of the guys at the end of the year that were in the 8 car, Ryan (Truex), we made big strides in doing that.”
For Allgaier, a “difference maker” is on the way in the form of Daniel Hemric.
The 2019 Cup Series Rookie of the Year will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet in 21 races next year, splitting time with Burton (11 races) and owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. (one race).
It marks Hemric’s return to the series after he spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons there with Richard Childress Racing, going winless but making the Championship 4 each time before his one-year promotion to the Cup Series.
“Really having just two full-time drivers in that 8 car, between Daniel and Jeb, obviously Dale’s going to run in it too, but only one race, I think our foundation is going to be a lot stronger next year,” Allgaier said.
What does Hemric bring to the table at JRM?
“First and foremost, experience,” Allgaier notes. “Not only as a Cup driver, but as a fantastic Xfinity Series competitor when he was in the series. I think he’s somebody that No. 1, has a lot of talent. But No. 2, (he) is somebody that’s really easy to get along with and he’s somebody I’ve become friends with from day one when he came into the series, and he’s somebody that I feel like will be a great addition to the sport and be somebody we can all enjoy being around, in the garage, at the shop, where ever it is.”
Allgaier, who will compete in his 10th full-time Xfinity season, sees Hemric as a kindred spirit who will help in getting his team back to even ground.
“Daniel and I grew up the same way in how we race,” Allgaier said. “You build race cars and you work all nighters and you put stuff together and if you don’t you’re not going to go to the race track. Having to have that understanding of a car and how it operates is a big deal. I think he’s going to be a big part of that.
“But on the other side of it, I think his talent alone is what’s going to really be the big difference maker, the understanding of how to be fast, week-in and week-out and how to optimize a race car. He’s very good at that. He’s probably one of the best that I’ve been around. I think that’s going to be a difference maker for all of us.”