Allgaier Ends Drought, Pockets Dash 4 Cash Bonus

Justin Allgaier (7) battling Erik Jones for the race lead late in Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Phoenix Int'l Raceway. (Ivan Veldhuizen Photo)

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Justin Allgaier ended a winless drought dating back to 2012 with a victory in Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series DC Solar 200 at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.

On top of the victory, Allgaier picked up a $100,000 bonus for winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash4Cash. Allgaier qualified for the Dash 4 Cash by being one of the two highest finishing XFINITY Series regulars in the two opening segments of the race.

Throughout Saturday’s race Allgaier proved he had a great car on short runs and the final 80-lap segment saw a number of short runs thanks to several caution periods. That worked in Allgaier’s favor as he raced his way to his fourth series victory.

Allgaier was the race leader with 44 laps left when the caution flag waved for a crash involving Joey Gase. He led most of the lead lap cars down pit road, but came off pit road fourth after taking four tires. Four drivers in front of him, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick, opted for just two tires. Matt Tifft inherited the lead when he chose not to pit.

The race resumed with 38 laps left and Allgaier, who restarted sixth, quickly began slicing his way up through the field. By the time the field completed one lap Allgaier was second behind Jones, who had snatched the lead away from Tifft.

On the next lap Allgaier pounced on Jones, moving to the inside to take the lead in turn three. Jones, who won the first segment of the race, tried to return the favor with a crossover, but couldn’t make the move stick and settled back into second.

The caution flag would wave a few laps later when Drew Herring spun in turn one, setting up a restart. During the restart Allgaier took the inside line, which proved to be a mistake as Jones used a big run on the outside to take the race lead.

Allgaier would spent the next several laps chasing Jones, looking for a way to get by him. Finally with 19 laps left Allgaier got enough of a run to the inside of Jones to take the lead exiting turn four.

Allgaier had just started to pull away when the caution flag waved again, this time for a spin by Blake Koch in the dog leg on the backstretch. During the ensuing restart Allgaier opted to take the top and held the lead, but the caution waved moments later when Cole Custer made contact with Austin Dillon, sending Dillon into the wall in turns one and two and collecting Ryan Sieg.

Dillon, unhappy with the contact from Custer, drove his heavily damaged Chevrolet in front of Custer’s Ford and blocked his path against the outside wall. NASCAR responded by calling Dillon and his crew chief, Justin Alexander, to the NASCAR hauler after the race.

After a brief red flag to clean up oil spilled by Dillon’s Chevrolet, the race resumed with four laps remaining. This time Allgaier looked like he was shot out of a cannon entering turn one and he easily pulled away from the battle for second to score his fourth career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory.

“Last year was tough. We had really good runs all year and never were able to get to victory lane, but these guys fought hard,” said Allgaier. “We had four really good JR Motorsports hot rods today. How cool is it to get a Camaro in victory lane?

“I knew we were going to have to get it on the short run,” Allgaier continued. “I knew it was going to come down to a short run at the end. I knew we had the car but I just needed a good restart and we got that at the end.”

Allgaier’s Dash 4 Cash victory was the second-straight time he has won the extra $100,000 bonus. He also won the bonus last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway thanks to a fifth-place effort.

Blaney ended up second after starting the race in 33rd when his No. 22 Team Penske Ford failed to make a qualifying attempt Saturday morning after getting stuck in inspection. Blaney managed to win the second stage, but was unable to do anything with Allgaier late in the race.

“I thought we had a good Discount Tire Ford Mustang. Really good on long runs, but unfortunately we didn’t get any of those at the end,” Blaney said. “The 7 (Allgaier) was spectacular on short runs, so it just kind of played into his hands.”

Jones finished third, followed by rookie polesitter William Byron and Elliott Sadler.

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