With a winless drought that stretched to last fall, Justin Allgaier admits he had thoughts of leaving the weekly grind of top-level motorsports behind.
After pacing the field at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, he now has his sights set on a NASCAR championship.
Allgaier led a race-high 120 laps on his way to a victory in the “Drydene 200” NASCAR Xfinity Series race, kicking off the “Drydene Doubleheader Weekend” at the Monster Mile.
Driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, Allgaier topped Austin Cindric by 1.977 seconds to earn his first victory since Nov. 9 at Phoenix and second career Dover win.
“It’s been tough, mentally, physically, emotionally,” said Allgaier. “In the last six months, I’ve told my wife 10 times I don’t know if I want to be a race car driver anymore. You get to a point where you can tell it weighs on you where it’s not beneficial.
“You never know when the next win is coming. These races are harder and harder and the talent level is insane.”
Allgaier completed the 200 miles in 1 hour, 48 minutes and 57 seconds for an average speed of 110.142 mph. Allgaier was near the lead throughout the race, after winning Stage 2 and finishing third in Stage 1.
“We didn’t do anything crazy today,” Allgaier said. “We were solid on pit road. We made good adjustments. We didn’t get excited, even when we lost track position.”
The final stage featured a compelling battle between Allgaier and Cindric, who has won five of the last seven NASCAR Xfinity Series races. The duo started side by side on the race’s final restart on Lap 168, but Allgaier had a solid jump at the green flag and pulled away for the win.
Cindric, who led 49 laps, was followed by Ross Chastain in third, Noah Gragson (27 laps led) in fourth and rookie Harrison Burton in fifth.
“I had a great battle there with Justin,” said Cindric, who leads the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings by 72 points over Chase Briscoe. “Obviously, he wanted it really bad. I knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy pass, so hopefully we can take it to him tomorrow. I mean, he drove the wheels off that thing.”
Allgaier will have a quick opportunity to be a repeat winner as part of the “Drydene Doubleheader Weekend” Sunday at 1 p.m. in the “Drydene 200” NASCAR Xfinity Series race during the Monster Mile’s six-race weekend.
“Since we came back, we’ve had a lot of really good days that ended with poor finishes,” said Jason Burdett, Allgaier’s crew chief. “Some of that was on me or we had a bad pit stop or pit call. We’ve managed to stick together well. We’ve been together now for five or six years. It’s the same core group. We’re all in this together.
“Dover’s been a really good place for us to come and put together a solid day and give ourselves the opportunity to break out of the funk we’ve been in the last four or five months.”