Allgaier tames The Track Too Tough To Tame

Justin Allgaier crosses the finish line towin Saturday NASCAR Xfinity Series Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200 at Darlington Raceway. Photo by David Barks.

Justin Allgaier dominates in Darlington for his first NASCAR Xfinity win of 2024

DARLINGTON, SC – Darlington Raceway is called “The Track That Is Too Tough To Tame.”

Justin Allgaier tamed it Saturday with a masterful run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200 for his first victory of 2024.

Allgaier led 119 of the 147 laps over the raceway’s 1.366-mile asphalt oval.

He not only won the race, he also won Stages 1 and 2, the third time in his career that he’s swept both stages and then gone on to win the race.

“It’s probably the number one most dominant race I’ve had,” said Allgaier. “We’ve had such a heck of a year. We’ve led a ton of laps, and we haven’t been able to do it.”

Until Saturday.

Justin Allgaier does a burnout after winning Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway. Photo by David Barks.

There were six lead changes among four different drivers.

Allgaier only led twice – but each was a prolonged run that propelled him to victory.

He passed Austin Hill for the lead on lap 49 and held it through the end of Stage 1.

Hill regained the lead for three laps but, on Lap 53, Allgaier was back in front – through the Stage 2 win and on to the checkered flag.

Hill gave it a valiant effort but, after the fifth and final caution, Allgaier steadily increased his lead every lap, beating Hill to the finish by 3.407 seconds.

“I did really good with my launches,” said Hill. That’s something that I struggled with here where I’d buzz the tires late in the zone. Didn’t do that all day — I felt pretty good about my restarts — but I would get down into (Turn) 1 and I’d get tight… I thought we were just as good as the 7 (Allgaier) all day. Congrats to those guys. We were just that little bit off today, and I think most of it was me.”

Austin Hill finished second at Saturday’s Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200 at Darlington Raceway. Photo by David Barks.

NASCAR called for a competition caution after 20 laps since Friday’s rain washed out Xfinity practice and qualifying.

Cole Custer was on the pole and led the first 22 laps but had serious trouble when he went to the pits for fresh tires during the competition caution.

His pit crew had trouble tightening the car’s lug nuts and Custer fell back to 33rd on the restart.

He was able to fight his way through the field to finish third.

“We just didn’t have enough to catch him at the end,” said Custer. “If we keep knocking on the door, we’ll get there.”

Sam Mayer finished fourth, followed by Aric Almirola, Parker Kligerman, Riley Herbst, Jesse Love, Sheldon Creed, and Brandon Jones.

“We battled track position all day,” said Almirola. “We got up to second but lost position on the restart and just couldn’t get back up to the front.”

“Every time I get in this car, I plan to win and expect to win. Fifth is great, but I want to win — but Justin was so fast.”

Cup racer William Byron was in the field, too.

His day went sour when he scraped the wall early, was forced to pit for repairs, and came back to the track three laps down.

He recovered to finish 11th.

Despite leading most of the way, Allgaier wasn’t taking victory for granted.

He was in a similar position late in the March 9 race in Phoenix when he blew a tire with four laps to go, hit the wall, destroyed his car, and fell from first to 29th place.

Cole Custer (00) leads AJ Allmendinger (16), Chandler Smith (91), Sheldon Creed (18), Sam Mayer (1), and Austin Hill (21) early in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway. Photo by David Barks.

“This year has been so frustrating on so many levels,” said Allgaier. “To have the speed that we’ve had week in and week out and to just not be able to put it all together. I mean, it just seems like we’ve  failed miserably. And today was anything but that, right? Pit stops were amazing. (Spotter) Eddie D’Hondt called an amazing race. What I saw today was just execution by every person, that that’s a part of the Seven Team and they don’t go that way every week. But, you know, in this sport where momentum is so important, I feel like we’re going into a stretch of racetracks that I love, our team loves, and you know, this is this one was special. I’ve loved this place since the very first time I made laps on it. And it’s not always treated me well. And so to win here this time is probably one of the more meaningful ones I’ve had in my career.”

Justin Allgaier (7) leads Austin Hill (21) in the closing laps of Saturday’s Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway. Photo by David Barks.

Besides winning his first 2024 race, Allgaier won for the 24th time in his Xfinity career, tying him with his boss, car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., for 10th place on the Xfinity career wins list.

It was also Allgaier’s 267th career Top 10 Xfinity finish, breaking a first-place tie with Kyle Busch for the most Top 10s in series history.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200

Darlington Raceway

Darlington, South Carolina

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Statistics supplied by NASCAR

1. (Started 7)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 147 laps completed

2. (5)  Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 147.

3. (1)  Cole Custer, Ford, 147.

4. (6)  Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 147.

5. (18)  Aric Almirola, Toyota, 147.

6. (11)  Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 147.

7. (9)  Riley Herbst, Ford, 147.

8. (12)  Jesse Love #, Chevrolet, 147.

9. (3)  Sheldon Creed, Toyota, 147.

10. (14)  Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 147.

11. (38)  William Byron(i), Chevrolet, 147.

12. (2)  Chandler Smith, Toyota, 147.

13. (26)  Ryan Sieg, Ford, 147.

14. (8)  Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 147.

14. (17)  Shane Van Gisbergen #, Chevrolet, 147.

16. (16)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 147.

17. (15)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 147.

18. (24)  Taylor Gray(i), Toyota, 147.

19. (13)  Carson Kvapil, Chevrolet, 147.

20. (21)  Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 147.

21. (25)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 147.

22. (30)  Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 147.

23. (34)  John Hunter Nemechek(i), Toyota, 147.

24. (27)  David Starr, Ford, 147.

25. (31)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 147.

26. (37)  Chad Finchum, Chevrolet, 147.

27. (36)  Blaine Perkins, Ford, 147.

28. (33)  Dawson Cram #, Chevrolet, 147.

29. (35)  Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 146.

30. (22)  Leland Honeyman #, Chevrolet, 146.

31. (10)  Parker Retzlaff, Chevrolet, 146.

32. (29)  Kyle Sieg, Ford, 146.

33. (28)  Patrick Emerling, Chevrolet, 146.

34. (23)  Sammy Smith, Chevrolet, 146.

35. (4)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 126.

36. (32)  Hailie Deegan #, Ford, Accident, 102.

37. (19)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 94.

38. (20)  Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, Driveshaft, 71.

 # – Rookie

i – Ineligible for points

Average Speed of Race Winner:  110.567 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 48 Mins, 58 Secs.

Margin of Victory:  3.407 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 31 laps.

Lead Changes:  5 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Custer 1-21;A. Allmendinger 22;A. Hill 23-25;J. Allgaier 26-49;A. Hill 50-52;J. Allgaier 53-147.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Justin Allgaier 2 times for 119 laps; Cole Custer 1 time for 21 laps; Austin Hill 2 times for 6 laps; AJ Allmendinger 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 7,21,1,16,48,81,20,2,98,18

Stage #2 Top Ten: 7,21,48,1,20,16,2,9,98,81

Like our stories? Share them online.