As a JR Motorsports veteran, Justin Allgaier puts pressure on himself to help his teammates and younger drivers.
“More than I probably should,” Allgaier explains on the latest episode of THE RACING WRITER’S PODCAST.
That’s because Allgaier will find himself trying to diagnose the cars of his teammates, wondering what they are struggling with, judging the line used, or pondering what could be done better – even as he is making laps and working to diagnose his No. 7 Chevrolet.
The latest example is with Noah Gragson. The 20-year-old is a rookie in the Xfinity Series this season, and joined JRM to drive the No. 9. Before Gragson made his decision, however, he made a phone call – to Allgaier.
“And he said, ‘What do I need to know?’” Allgaier recalled. “’Where am I going to be good and where am I going to struggle, and what do I need to know?’ And I told him everything. I told him anything from personality, all the way through to driving style – like, I told him all the things that I had to change when I came here, that I see other drivers … [having] to change to be successful here, and I said, this is everything on the table.
“The funny part was, he said, I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone be that honest with me.’ My reasoning for that was, when I came into the sport, some were brutally honest, (and) in the moment you want to hear that sugarcoating; you want to know everything is going to be fine and we’re going to be successful and we’re going to win a lot of races and everything is going to be perfect. But the reality of that is not the truth, and so for me, I’ve probably not enjoyed the brutally honest side of conversations with other drivers when I came into the sport, but I respect those drivers now than I really ever anticipated I would. And so, for me with Noah it was, hey, this is everything on the table. This is the good, the bad, and the ugly, and take it or leave it.”
Allgaier is teaching from experience. This is his fourth year driving for JRM after leaving what he called a “challenging situation” in the NASCAR Cup Series while driving for HScott Motorsports. While Allgaier said the people around him made those years some of the most fun he’s had personally, mentally it was a different story and it shaped him into the person he was upon arriving at the Dale Earnhardt Jr. co-owned team.
“(It was) probably some of the taxing and hardest and darkest times that I’ve ever had in a race car,” said Allgaier. “I can remember coming home and just being miserable, because being competitive, you want to go to the racetrack and win races, and I think … you tend to submerse yourself in your surroundings and … you don’t drive the ship, the ship usually drives you.
“And so for me, I came here with a bad attitude, first and foremost. I really did. I came here thinking that I knew everything, how it was going to go, and I didn’t, by any means. But I think those humbling moments of when you realize, “hey, I don’t know as much as I think I know” are probably the best ones, and that’s honestly what’s led to the success here at JR Motorsports.
“They have a great organization, they’ve got great people, I have great people around me, and if I can rely on them to help me get better, then we’re going to win races, and we won five last year. That’s pretty impressive, really.”
Hear that and more from Allgaier on the full episode of the podcast below.