HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Despite their best attempts to overcome adversity and contend for their first NASCAR XFINITY Series championships, disappointment was the overriding emotion for both Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric at the end of Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Allgaier coasted home in 12th after a difficult day in which he only ever ran as high as fifth on-track and third in the championship, while Hemric was relegated to 34th in the final rundown and ended up lowest among the four title contenders after battery issues in the second stage took him out of contention.
Entering the NASCAR XFINITY Series finale with a hole atop the pit box, after regular crew chief Jason Burdett was suspended due to a post-race technical infraction at Phoenix one week earlier, Allgaier was paired up with seven-time Cup champion and veteran crew chief Chad Knaus as Knaus stepped in to fill the void in hopes of guiding Allgaier to his first NASCAR title.
But despite having Knaus in his back pocket, the speed for Allgaier’s No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet just wasn’t there to put Allgaier in contention to get the job done.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know what we were missing there,” lamented Allgaier. “We felt like we were pretty decent in practice on the top, middle and bottom. In the race, I was just stuck just to the bottom, which isn’t the ideal lane to get around, but we thought we could use it to pass some cars. Instead, we just really never had a shot at it.”
“It’s one of those things … we were just way too free to really go around the top. Hats off to William, though, he did a great job. It’s been fun having him as a teammate this year. He’s going to be a super-bright superstar in this sport and we’re proud he was able to bring a title back for JR Motorsports.”
Allgaier affirmed that not having Burdett atop the pit box didn’t negatively affect his chances — it was simply a bad night.
“I feel like the race went as smoothly as it could go,” explained Allgaier. “I felt like between he (Knaus) and Billy (Wilburn, car chief) and everybody on our team, we had a good bearing of what we needed. Unfortunately, we just kept throwing darts at the wall and none of them were sticking.”
“It was just an off night for us; that’s how some of these nights go. You just hate it when it happens at Homestead and that’s just the nuts-and-bolts of it.”
Still, Allgaier and his team had a lot to be proud of this season, scoring two wins (Phoenix 1 and Chicagoland), 10 top-fives, 17 top-10s and a pole at Charlotte in May among their accolades throughout the year.
“I can’t thank everyone at JR Motorsports enough. This whole (No.) 7 group has done an awesome job all year,” Allgaier said with a smile. “We set out in Daytona to make it to Homestead to have a shot and we did that. We just lost the battle tonight.”
“Third in points is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m really proud of these guys and looking forward to next year. Hopefully, we’ll get this BRANDT Chevrolet in victory lane more next season.”
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