Justin Allgaier is four years into his tenure at JR Motorsports and will tell you that he’s happy: that he loves where he’s at, that his No. 7 Chevrolet team is fantastic, and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else as far as people are concerned.
But Allgaier will also admit something else about the last 132 races.
“I’ve been disappointed in the successes that we’ve not had,” said Allgaier, who has won eight races in the last four years. “I want to bring a championship back home. That’s everybody’s goal, right? But I don’t feel like a championship is what’s going to define what we do.”
Allgaier went winless in his first season back in the Xfinity Series in 2016. A year later, he knocked out two victories, followed by five in 2018. It took until the fall ISM Raceway event for Allgaier and crew chief Jason Burdett to break through this past season, which, while qualifying him to race for a championship, was also long overdue.
“This year, it was at least five races we should have won,” Allgaier said. “Both Bristol (races) were easily in the bag, and we don’t win either one of them. And there’s other ones that obviously got away, and it’s disappointing.
“I think the moral of this year is finding contentment in the races that you just felt were absolutely miserable, and we had a lot of those.”
Out of the 600 laps run in both Bristol races, Allgaier led 269. Mechanical issues forced him to the garage in the spring race after sweeping both stages. The summer race proved equally as harsh when Allgaier had to pit from the lead with a flat tire inside the final 11 laps.
The year started with a second at Daytona and a third in Atlanta. There were also runner-up finishes at Dover, Charlotte, and Indianapolis. In the 17-race stretch to end the year, Allgaier knocked down 16 straight top-nine finishes.
“I’ve got to do a better job,” said Allgaier. “I just didn’t execute at some of the races this year. We had a lot of bad luck – and I’m not a believer in luck – but we had a lot of times [where] things didn’t go the way we needed them to, and didn’t go the way we wanted them to. And that made a big difference in the way our season kind of played out.”
While a 14th-place finish at Homestead was a disappointment, Allgaier couldn’t ask for anything more in the playoffs, where he and his team produced six top-six finishes and 152 laps led in seven races.
Allgaier has been a final four participant in three of the last four years, and believes that the key to turning a final four spot into a championship is winning more races in the regular season. In ’20, as far as he knows, he’ll have the core of his team back to chase those wins.
And he looks forward to his fifth year, and however many more he’ll put in with JRM, in trying to limit those disappointments.
“As long as they’ll keep putting my name above the door, I’ll keep coming back and doing it,” he said.