AVONDALE, Ariz. — Aside from Tyler Reddick making the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 on Saturday at ISM Raceway, it was a tough day to forget for JR Motorsports.
Regular-season champion Justin Allgaier appeared to be the driver to beat in the Round of 8 finale, winning the first two stages. But the No. 7 Chevrolet suffered right-front damage after contact with John Hunter Nemechek in the final stage, fading to a 24th-place finish with brake issues.
“You know, at the end of the day, we did everything right this year,” Allgaier said on pit road after the race. “We had a great season. Today, we did everything right at the beginning part of the race. That was probably the most frustrating part is we led a lot of laps and we won both stages. It was going to be a great day, but then ultimately there at the end getting ourselves in that bad position.”
Through the disappointment, Allgaier was able to find solace in his five victories this season, a total that he could potentially turn into six in the season finale next Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But admittedly, Allgaier felt they just didn’t do everything right when it mattered the most.
“I feel so bad for my guys, these guys on this 7 team especially, but everybody at JR Motorsports has done a fantastic job all year,” Allgaier said. “We were just in the right place at the wrong time today and didn’t execute like we needed to.”
Similar to Allgaier, Elliott Sadler was also plagued by right-front damage early in the race after contact with the lapped car of Chad Finchum.
“We fought way too many things today,” Sadler said. “We tried some new things and I led us in that direction, so I take full responsibility for that. My guys did so much for me this year and we were so fast at the right times.
“Look, I don’t point fingers,” he added. “I’m the driver. It’s my job to communicate. I just feel my guys are a really good race team and we’ve run up front all year.”
Sadler had to settle for an 11th-place result, missing a shot to make one more title run in Miami in his final race as a full-time driver.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Sadler said, looking ahead to next weekend. “I’ve been racing for 23 years. Been doing it since I was 7, putting a helmet on every weekend. … It’s going to be more relaxing not running for a championship, but it’s gonna suck, too.
“I really wish my guys were going down there (Homestead) to run for a championship. It’s more about them and my sponsors and my team than it is about me.”