JOLIET, Ill. – Justin Allgaier’s hopes of a happy homecoming to Chicagoland Speedway were dashed well before the finish of Saturday’s Camping World 300.
Allgaier, a two-time Chicagoland winner who hails from nearby Riverton, Ill., hoped to rekindle the magic he brought to the 1.5-mile Illinois oval in 2017 – when he won with JR Motorsports.
However, what played out on Saturday was better described as a nightmare.
The race started strong for Allgaier, who qualified fourth and climbed up as high as second in the first 10 laps, but spun off turn two from the runner-up spot on lap 12, costing him a set of tires early on and starting his downward spiral.
Allgaier rallied back into the top 10 by the end of the second stage, but was later squeezed into the wall by the No. 81 Toyota of Jeffrey Earnhardt on lap 117 of 200, forcing him to duck to pit road shortly after with significant right-side damage to his No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet Camaro.
After a few minutes of attempted repairs, Allgaier’s crew pushed the car to the garage area, ending the 33-year-old’s afternoon by rule under NASCAR’s Damaged Vehicle Policy.
Though he ran among the top 10 for most of the day, Allgaier was relegated to 33rd-place in the final rundown after completing 127 circuits, marking his fourth DNF of the season.
“The biggest thing there was following the (No.) 81 (Jeffrey Earnhardt) and trying to get a run,” explained Allgaier. “I know Joey (Logano) had a good run to his outside after he got loose, and I thought there would be just enough of a hole to his outside that I could sneak by him … but once I got into his dirty air, there was just nowhere to go and I hit the fence.
“That really caused all the problems. We tried to fix it, but unfortunately, the right-front tire went down.”
Allgaier’s misfortune on Saturday means he’s still looking for his first Xfinity Series win of the season, after having two victories at this point in the year last summer.
He dropped from fourth back to fifth in the regular-season standings, as well, 152 points behind leader Tyler Reddick.
“I’m really bummed to finish here (in the garage). It’s a home race and such a fun track for me, but we had a rough day,” Allgaier said. “Our car wasn’t great at the beginning; we thought after practice we were good, but we were too loose in. I spun out early and everything just compounded after that.
“I hate it for our guys. This is just a really disappointing day.”