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Allgaier Victorious At Brickyard

Ryan Blaney and Justin Allgaier lead the field to start the NASCAR Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images]

by Paul Gohde

Justin Allgaier had just won Monday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 NASCAR Xfinity series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was about to drive to victory lane to celebrate with his crew. But first he wanted to remember an important place in his pre-racing career. “I sat up there with my dad and watched the first Brickyard 400,” he said, pointing to the seats overlooking Turn One. “That’s why I did a burn-out up there today; to remember.”

But Allgaier, who also witnessed some Indy 500s as a youth, made his own memories today as he outlasted his JR Motorsports Chevrolet teammate Tyler Reddick and a gaggle of others who tried hard to catch the Illinois native.

The race, postponed from Saturday due to a rain storm, used a set of aero and restrictor plate rules that were first used in this race last year and were designed to encourage closer competition, Allgaier, who started in the front row, led 41 laps, but had competitors frustrated when they could get close, but not pass the him.

“The car was fantastic. The last restart (at lap 78) was the difference maker” said the Allgaier who has now won five times this season. “I thought Tyler was struggling into Turn One and I could hold him off,” he said as he moved into first for good. “When you have a car to win, and you don’t, you don’t want to show your face to the crew.”

“I had the right run to win set up on the final lap, but it didn’t work out. I should have done it with two laps to go,” explained the runner-up finisher Reddick, who had lightly shoved the future winner ahead with 14 laps remaining after that lap restart, “but I didn’t want to risk taking my teammate out on the last lap.”

Ryan Blaney, who started on the pole after rain cancelled qualifying, finished third and could only watch the two Chevy’s stay ahead of his Team Penske Ford. “You just couldn’t pass somebody when you’re part of a train. We were wide-open, so you couldn’t fall out of line.”

Chase Elliott, who was also chasing the leaders in the latter laps, was as high as third with ten to go, but was also frustrated as he tried to pass. “The (rules) package makes it hard to make a move on the leaders. You can block and maybe crash or just take a final spot.”

Elliott Sadler was involved in a four-car crash on lap 23 that dropped him to fifth in the season’s points chase and 35th in the race. “We were bunched-up on a restart and Ty Dillon spun and collected us. That puts us out of contention for the season’s championship,” said the veteran who has announced his retirement at the close of the season. “That was our best car, so it puts us in a hole to get ready for the playoffs.”

Allgaier retained the series’ points lead (943), with Cole Custer second (-49) after experiencing a hard crash with 22 laps remaining. Christopher Bell is third (-52) with Daniel Hemric fourth (-55) and Sadler fifth (-69).

One race at Las Vegas remains in the Xfinity Series’ regular season before the playoffs begin.

It was an emotional win for the driver who grew up just three hours west of Indianapolis. With his wife, daughter and father kneeling beside him at the ‘Yard of Bricks’, ready to continue the ‘Kissing of the Bricks’ tradition, there were some tears that were quite evident as Allgaier looked around at family and crew.

“This win was all about family,” he explained to anyone who would listen. His journey to the Speedway began with trips with his father and it’s likely there will be many more.

 

 

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”