Allgaier loves Bristol; NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran one of the favorites for tonight's Cheddar's 300 presented by Alsco
JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier calls Riverton, Illinois home. But on the NASCAR Xfinity Series circuit, he likes to think of the super-challenging half-mile bullring known as Bristol Motor Speedway as his home away from home.
"Bristol is my favorite race track," Allgaier told a group of reporters during a media visit earlier this year at a Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen restaurant in Knoxville.
"Obviously with my first win in the Xfinity Series and my best finish in the Cup Series, it's near and dear to my heart," the driver of the No. 7 Suave Men Chevrolet for the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned racing team continued. "It's a place where it's fun to be."
Allgaier, who has competed in the Xfinity Series for 11 years including the last five with JR Motorsports, has earned 11 victories, 87 top five finishes and 179 top 10s during that span. At Bristol, he's raced to one win (2010) and posted eight top-five finishes. During a two-year stint in Cup Series racing, Allgaier posted his career-best finish on that circuit at Bristol, an eighth place effort in the 2015 Night Race.
"It's that place where every driver wants to win," Allgaier said. "Every driver feels he's close to winning at Bristol and has something go wrong. When you've conquered Bristol, you feel like you've conquered the world."
He says the track's unique layout, with high-banked corners and an all-concrete surface that pushes top qualifying speeds into the 128 mph range, creates the perfect recipe for creating intense racing and usually, drama.
"It's difficult," Allgaier said. "It's just a physically demanding and challenging race track. It's one of those places you have to keep up with adjustments all day."
He says during his two races at Bristol last year he felt like he had the car to beat on both occasions. In April he led 138 laps before crashing with a failed part. During August's Food City 300, he led 131 laps before a tire issue dropped him to an eighth place finish. He hopes this year he can finish with a checkered flag in his hand.
"We had the dominant car in both races last year," Allgaier said. "We unfortunately broke a hub in the first race. In the fall race, we were leading and had a tire go flat with eight laps to go. It was so disappointing, but it embodies what Bristol is all about."
Following a delay in racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Allgaier is eager to get back to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Cheddar's 300 presented by Alsco tonight. The NASCAR Xfinity Series race will be held under the lights, starting at 7 p.m. ET and will air on FS1, PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. The top four finishers from tonight's race will qualify for a $100,000 Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonus at next weekend's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In six starts so far this season, Allgaier has posted two top-fives and three-top 10s, including a third place finish at Darlington two weeks ago and fifth place finish at Charlotte last weekend.
"Bristol is a place that has always been special to me," said Allgaier, who will start 10th in tonight's race. "I've just always felt comfortable on the track there from the day I turned my first laps. I know this Suave Men team is just as eager as I am to get back there and get another shot at ending the day in Victory Lane."
In order for Allgaier to grab a win on Bristol's demanding all-concrete high-banks he will need to hold off a host of tough competitors in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, including Daytona winner Noah Gragson, Fontana winner Harrison Burton, who will start on the pole in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing machine, Phoenix winner Brandon Jones, recent Darlington winner Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain, Daniel Hemric, Austin Cindric and Justin Haley, among others.