Allgaier Tops Road America

Justin Allgaier celebrates winning the the NASCAR Xfinity Series Johnsonville 180 at Road America. [Tyler Jensen Photo]

Justin Allgaier celebrates winning the the NASCAR Xfinity Series Johnsonville 180 at Road America. [Tyler Jensen Photo]

by Paul Gohde

“Allgaier is gone”

The radio announcer had it correct. Once the smoke cleared and the challengers had fallen back, the Springfield, Illinois driver, who has now won three career road course races, was gone.

In a race that saw more bumping and grinding than had been seen at Road America in a long time, Justin Allgaier won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Johnsonville 180 Saturday, but he did it with a smart stroke of pit strategy rather than pushing anyone into the gravel traps.

“It was kind of weird there at the end,” grinned the winner who pitted on lap 27 while the leaders came in for the last time on lap 30 “It was a great pit call that kept us out when everyone pitted. We had three more laps on our tires than they did, and when we stayed out I knew the tires fall off fast on this track.”

But when the green fell on lap 32, Allgaier was able to grab the lead from Ryan Sieg in Turn 1 and except for former Indy car driver James Davison getting ahead for a lap, Allgaier was able to cruise to his fifth career win as the leader watched in his mirror to “see grass flying all over the place, I tried not to do anything stupid.”

“I thought it was a normal NASCAR pit call,” explained crew chief Jason Burdett. “You pit on green (flag) and beat them on the yellow.” So when the field pitted we basically were even with them on tires but we had another set to use if we needed it; but they didn’t have any more.”

At that point the chase was on to catch now-leaderAllgaier’s JR Motorsports Chevy. A chase that proved a problem to many as one after another Christopher Bell, James Davison, Brendan Gaughan, Justin Marks and numerous others tried, but failed to get to the orange Number 7. Davison and Marks even took each other out with Allgaier within reach.

Pole winner Matt Tifft’s Chevrolet stayed in the top ten most of the day and finished second though he admitted that a handling problem slowed his progress. He was taken to the Care Center after the race due to feeling ill, but was later released.

Winner of Stage 2, Daniel Hemric was third after tangling briefly with his car owner Brendan Gaughan who got off course at least twice in the final stage and finished 24th.

“Those last laps were a blur. It was frustrating at times. I was proud of our efforts to stay on course, but it’s hard to race your boss. It’s important to finish.”

Cole Custer’s HAAS Automation Ford was fourth while the soon to retire Elliott Sadler was fifth.

“I still don’t think I run road courses well, but it’s fun racing them,” grinned the winner.” There are areas of the track where a small mistake can turn into a big mistake. But when I saw we were on the last lap (he won by 5.40 seconds), the pressure was off and now I just had to finish. I ran out of fuel here in 2011 and didn’t want that again.”

Note: Among drivers who don’t usually race in the series: Conor Daly (31st), Katherine Legge (14th) after running as high as third before spinning, Bill Elliott (20th), Ty Majeski (28th) and sports car expert Andy Lally (10th).

Trans Am Sunday:
Wisconsin native Ty Majeski drove his Newman Wachs Ford Mustang to a last-minute win Sunday morning in Round 8 of the TA2 Powered by AEM Trans Am series race at Road America. Majeski, a series rookie, who drives for Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, used a daring last lap pass of leader Matt Tifft in Turn 1 on a restart to secure the win. “I think he should have driven in just a little bit deeper,” noted Tifft with tongue firmly planted in cheek. “But, it was circumstances,” explained the winner. “I tried to time it and I didn’t know when the green was coming out. My crew said ‘Green flag is out’ so I went. I got a good run off two and going into three Turn 2 and cleared him going into three” winning by a half-second. The win was the first for Majeski in the Trans Am Series and gave him valuable track time on the unfamiliar road course as he prepared for the XFINITY Series run later in the day. Earlier in the morning, veteran road racer Boris Said’s Dodge Challenger edged Chris Dyson’s Ford Mustang by less than a second to win the TA TA3 TA4 Trans Am Series event.

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