By Jeremiah Davis
NEWTON – Justin Allgaier has had a career filled with almosts and coming up just short.
No, not his height, which he laughed about after the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway on Sunday when asked about the above. The JR Motorsports driver has come close to wins repeatedly over the course of his career, but has missed on closing the deal all too often.
Sunday in the Iowa 250, however, he closed out a dominant win leaving little doubt. He led a race and career-high 182 laps, swept all three stages and got a little redemption from Dover with his second victory of the season.
“Literally and figuratively,” Allgaier said through laughter about coming up short. “For me, in years past, especially here at Iowa, we’ve come up short a lot. We’ve led a lot of laps here and had crazy things happen. These races are so hard to win anymore. I wanted some redemption from the Dover situation, and we came back strong and we’ve had good cars every week, and I feel like we got that today.”
Allgaier’s seventh career victory came in the wake of a penalty following his Dash 4 Cash win at Dover International Speedway that resulted in the victory not counting toward NXS playoff eligibility.
It also was a welcome role reversal.
Allgaier has those seven career NXS wins to go with 59 top-5 finishes. Of those 59 top-5s, 13 of them were runner-up finishes – three of which stand out in particular for being heartbreakers to lose. In the August 2012 race at Iowa Speedway, Allgaier started fifth, led a race-high 101 laps and finished second to Elliott Sadler. Last season in the spring race at Richmond, Allgaier led a race-high 157 laps, surrendering the lead with 14 to go, finishing second to Kyle Larson. Earlier this year at Phoenix, he started on the pole, led a race-high 76 laps and finished second to Brad Keselowski.
Sunday, Allgaier was aggressive early and smooth late. He made slight contact with Austin Cindric while racing with lapped cars at the end of the first stage to take the lead, and he said after it was a product of pouncing on an opportunity. With the parity among racecars in the series’ top teams at the moment, taking advantage when you can is the difference.
“That last caution I was sweating bullets because I knew the restarts were going to be so important,” Allgaier said. “We had been really good on restarts before that, but you never know – especially in today’s time with the cars being the way they are and guys being so close.
“Managing lapped traffic was huge. Managing all that all day was a big deal.”
SOLID DAY FOR GASE
Cedar Rapids native Joey Gase had himself a solid day at Iowa Speedway on Sunday.
The Go Green Racing driver started 27th and finished 21st, coming up just shy of his eighth top-20 in the 14 races this season. Gase ran most of the race inside the top 20, getting a pair of free passes at the end of the first two stages – holding off Justin Allgaier for several laps both times in an effort to stay on the lead lap. Having to battle back from the intense heat in Newton, restarting in the rear on both those occasions, as well as a track bar that was falling ever-so-slightly unbeknownst to the team, Gase was happy with the result.
His new team hitting all these racetracks for the first time has been a challenge, too, he said, so the back of the season is something to look forward to.
“It wasn’t too bad until about halfway, then it got really, really hot,” Gase said. “I think we did really good today. I think if we had gotten a quick caution after one of the Lucky Dogs, we could’ve had a great day. I think it put on a pretty good show on TV at the end of those stages holding off the leaders.
“It’s the best position I’ve ever been in and we’re continuing to improve. I’m really excited to go to the same track twice and see what we can do then.”