While the Xfinity Series spotlight has shined on AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric for most of the 2021 season, it would be foolish to disregard Justin Allgaier.
Now, in his sixth season behind the wheel of the No. 7 Brandt Chevrolet at JR Motorsports, the 35-year-old racer has qualified for every Playoff since 2016 and has failed to advance to the Championship 4 Round only once.
Allgaier’s leadership, experience and continued support from Brandt have clearly contributed to turning this squad into perennial contenders on the NXS tour.
“I’m ready to get these playoffs underway on Saturday in Las Vegas,” said Allgaier, who is currently third in the Xfinity standings. “We’ve traditionally had a lot of speed there with our Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet and I feel really confident that we will have that once again when we unload.”
Allgaier leads all full-time Xfinity drivers with 14 starts—which should serve him well with the current jump-in-and-go format. He has been incredibly consistent at the 1.5-mile track, posting just one finish outside of the top 15 due to an engine failure in the 2019 spring race. In nine starts at Las Vegas under the direction of crew chief Jason Burdett, Allgaier has scored five top-five finishes at the intermediate track.
A solid finish or win at Las Vegas would alleviate some of the pressure entering the next two venues—Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval.
“This Round of 12 is full of unknowns, especially with the two wild card races coming up after Vegas, which makes this weekend all that more important to go out there and do what we can to try to secure our spot into the next round,” Allgaier said. “If we can just execute the way we have been all season to this point, I feel like we will be in a great position to contend for the win and move on in the playoffs.”
Allgaier was initially disappointed entering the Playoffs with a 24-point deficit behind Allmendinger and Cindric. Yet given the brutal start to the season—with crashes at Daytona and Homestead along with a 26h-place result on the Daytona Road Course—he’s grateful for the team’s ability to recover with two wins, 12 top fives and 17 top 10s in the past 23 races.
“We still had our stumbles here and there, but once we got our team firing on all eight cylinders, not only did we win those two races, we put ourselves in a position to win almost all the way through,” Allgaier said. “With the competition level we have this year in the Playoffs, with the amount of drivers and teams that are not only capable of winning races but winning the championship, those levels of consistency that we’ve shown over the summer are going to be a big part of these Playoffs.
“I think you’re going to have to try and win, but consistency has shown to be really, really important as well. So that’s the goal for the team. We’re going to go and we’re going to be consistent. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got and hopefully put ourselves into contention each and every week.
“If we can do that, then I think, for sure, we’ll be in that final four when it comes time for Phoenix.”
NOTE: Kaulig Racing announced on Saturday that Daniel Hemric will replace Justin Haley in the No. 11 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series in 2022.
Hemric has posted 39 top fives and 66 top 10s in 113 starts on the NXS tour. He is currently sixth in the standings behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
The 30-year-old racer has advanced to the post-season in each of the three years he has competed full-time on the NXS tour but is still seeking his first win.
“The belief that Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice have in me to come drive their notable, No. 11 car means the world to me,” said Hemric. “Equally, I believe in their program, their vision, and what they’re building at Kaulig Racing. It’s impressive to see how they’ve become an elite, multi-car Xfinity Series program in such a short period of time. I’m just incredibly thankful for the opportunity to drive for them next year, and I’m ready to put in the work to continue building on the team's success.”