Justin Allgaier won at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, putting JR Motorsports in victory lane for the third week in a row in the Xfinity Series.
Allgaier took advantage of the caution and passed AJ Allmendinger to start a two-lap sprint and cruised the final 2.7 miles to give team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. another victory in NASCAR’s second-tier feeder series, breaking a 34-race winless streak.
Noah Gragson won at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago, while Josh Berry triumphed at Dover Motor Speedway last week. At Talladega, Allgaier was a non-factor, then a runner-up a week later.
JR Motorsports won the race for the second time in a row, with Noah Gragson finishing second to Allgaier by 0.259s in a two-lap sprint to the finish line. The drivers have now won three consecutive races in the series and three consecutive races at Darlington, with Gragson winning there last fall.
Beyond the figures, the Saturday win was determined by Allgaier’s pit crew’s faultless execution. During a lap 92 pit stop, the crew got the No. 7 Chevrolet out first after finishing third behind Gragson and Ty Gibbs in Stage 2.
Allgaier was first off pit road among the drivers that came in for service during the next two stops. When nine cars were forced to stay out due to Joe Graf Jr.’s incident on lap 136, Allgaier restarted 10th on lap 141 and quickly moved up to second before Tyler Reddick slammed into the outside wall on lap 142.
On the following restart on lap 146 of 147, Allgaier soon took the lead from AJ Allmendinger, who was running on 16-lap older tyres, and held it until the finish, as Gragson chased him down.
“This team right here… the pit stops today were killing it,” said Allgaier, who had finished a close second to teammate Josh Berry a week ago at Dover.
“They were awesome. This Hellman’s Camaro was so fast. Just a testament to the No. 7 guys, but everybody at JR Motorsports they’ve been working so hard. It’s showing with our finishes, not just our No. 7 team, but all of us.”
“We’ve been doing this way too long, and you know how great it feels to get back to Victory Lane. And by the way, it was awesome racing my teammates.”
“That was probably the coolest part… racing my teammates all day… so hats off to those guys.”
Allgaier, too, approached this one as if it had been a long time. He thanked everyone he could think of, seized the checkered flag, and travelled the length of the outside wall, shaking hands and congratulating spectators.
For the triumph, Allgaier faced minimal opposition. On the final restart, he drew up outside Allmendinger with much newer tyres and zoomed past the leader as the green flag dropped. Over the final two laps, no one came close to him.
“Got the job done,” said Allgaier, who was forced to start the race from the back of the field.
“I’m super pumped. … We’ve been doing this way too long. You know how this feels, and this feels great to get back to victory lane. We’ll hopefully carry this momentum on for a few more weeks.”
Riley Herbst, John Hunter Nemechek, and Sam Mayer finished second, third, and fourth, respectively as the top ten was rounded out by Landon Cassill, Brandon Jones, AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric, and Austin Hill. This season, Allmendinger has finished in the top ten in all 11 Xfinity Series races.
Allmendinger and Tyler Reddick appeared to be battling for the win when Reddick blew a tyre, hit the wall, and brought out a yellow with six laps remaining. As the only driver in the lead with worn tyres, Allmendinger was effectively a no-show for the last restart.
Seven of the top ten places went to Chevrolet, including all three for Kaulig Racing. Kaulig finished in the top ten for the 11th time in a row.
The series will have a week off before returning on May 21 at Texas Motor Speedway.