DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Justin Allgaier knew the importance of timing a late move on leader Michael Annett for the win in Saturday’s Xfinity Series event at Daytona International Speedway.
Too soon, and that “was going to allow some of those guys that were fourth, fifth, sixth to get that momentum and kind of go by the field,” he said.
As the laps dwindled in Saturday’s season opener, Allgaier attempted a maneuver on his JR Motorsports teammate on the final lap by backing up to the No. 19 of Brandon Jones to get a run, but ultimately wasn’t able to pass him for the victory.
“We were trying to wait until ideally getting into 1 on the last lap was where we wanted to do it, and I backed up to the 19 and didn’t really get the run that I thought I was going to get,” Allgaier said. “So then you kind of go into panic mode, right, because now everything you think you’re going to do didn’t really work out the way you wanted it to. So down the back, I lifted off of 2, got as much of a gap as I could get, and we just generated enough of a run to push the 1 back out in front. …I thought for sure we had it all figured out, and then when we tried it, it just didn’t really work out the way we thought it was going to.”
“If Justin had the opportunity, he was going to take it,” said crew chief Jason Burdett, echoing Allgaier’s sentiment in the garage to NASCAR.com. “… For whatever reason today, you couldn’t generate that big run to the guy in front of you unless you were in a big pack of cars and then you could get a little run. …”
“Obviously we’d rather win, but if you have to finish second, your teammate is who you want to finish second to.”
Annett’s win – his first in the Xfinity Series – marked JR Motorsports’ third win at Daytona in four races. And while Allgaier didn’t pace any laps around the World Center of Racing, the 32-year-old driver did notch his best finish since 2016 at Daytona. He recalled his season-opening run at Daytona in 2018, when he was sitting in the infield care center as teammates Tyler Reddick and Elliott Sadler crossed the start-finish line for the 1-2 finish.
To go into Atlanta with a runner-up result bodes well for the rest of the year.
“Oh, it’s huge,” said Allgaier, who visited Annett in Victory Lane Saturday to congratulate his teammate. “First and foremost, to have one‑two today, to have four cars finish this race, I don’t know that we got any damage today to any of the four cars. You know, that’s incredible. When you leave Daytona just to not have to go home and cut that thing apart and fix it, that in itself is a really strong boost of confidence.
“We go into a stretch here where we go to Atlanta, then we do the West Coast Swing, so all the parts and all the pieces that we can have at our disposal, the better,” Allgaier added. “So that’s big part of it.”
Allgaier is thankful he won’t have a huge points deficit to overcome to start the year, in comparison to last year’s 31st-place Daytona result that left him mired back in the standings.
“You don’t realize how much that puts a strain on you until you get to like race 2, 3, 4, and then you start looking, like, ‘man, I’m 20th in points leaving Daytona, even though I did everything right and I got stage points and I was running up front at the end of the race,’” Allgaier said. “So you put yourself into a hole. I think this really allows us to go into Atlanta, focus on our mile‑and‑a‑half program, what we’ve got to do come 2019 to be better, and really just gives us that confidence that we did what we needed to do today.”