Justin Allgaier looking forward to double-duty weekend
BY TINA AKOURIS Sun-Times Media September 14, 2013 12:36AM
Justin Allgaier (left) talks with Jeff Gordon before qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday in Joliet. | Nam Y. Huh/AP
Justin Allgaier wishes he knew his Sprint Cup plan for 2014, but he’s just content to race three Cup races in the next month and vie for the NASCAR Nationwide championship.
Allgaier is going to do double duty this weekend when he races in Saturday’s Dollar General 300 Nationwide race and in Sunday’s GEICO 400 Sprint Cup race. It will be the first time in Allgaier’s career that he will race in the Cup series. He’ll start 36th in the No. 51 BRANDT Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing.
After the GEICO 400, Allgaier said he plans on racing Oct. 12 in Charlotte, N.C., and Oct. 20 in Talladega, Ala.
“It’s a huge weekend for all of us,” Allgaier said. “The biggest thing for me is just wanting to learn. I know it’s not going to be easy and that it isn’t going to go as planned, but at the same time we need to learn as much as we can.”
The Dollar General 300 marks the second time this season that Allgaier has raced at the Speedway. He finished eighth in the Nationwide race in July.
Allgaier is 52 points behind the Nationwide points leader, Sam Hornish Jr. who is leading the standings with 890.
Rounding out the top four in points are Austin Dillon, Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler.
“To gain points is almost impossible, but to lose points is probably the easiest thing we can do,” Allgaier said. “For us, being in fifth, there are four guys in front of us and we need them all to make mistakes. It’s three bonus points when you win the race and that’s crucial moving forward.”
Allgaier has just as much chance as any to win the Dollar General 300. He’s won at Chicagoland Speedway before, in 2011, and has two top five finishes in seven starts.
But Hornish is also a threat, not just because he is the points leader. Hornish has had success at Chicagoland both in open wheel and NASCAR. He won back-to-back Indy Car races in Joliet in 2002 and 2003, and in four Nationwide starts at Chicagoland Hornish has two top five finishes.
The way the track has aged will also be a factor during Saturday’s Nationwide race.
“Chicagoland has a few bumps that make the track a little more difficult,” Allgaier crew chief Scott Zipadelli said. “Traditionally, the track has long green flag runs and it’s very hard to pass, so pit stops and track position will be crucial on Saturday.”