Allgaier snaps 80-race winless drought in Arizona desert
Drivers took on the Phoenix International Raceway with temperatures in the mid-90s. Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet, handled the heat better than anyone else and walked away with his first victory of 2017 as well as his first win with JR Motorsports.
“It's been a couple years since I've been able to get to victory lane, and for me, it's been challenging,” Allgaier said. “I’m not going to lie to you; there's moments in my racing career when I’d question why I got up in the morning and go to the racetrack.”
The 30-year old hadn’t celebrated a first place finish in 80 starts, dating back to 2012 at Montreal.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet and owner of the team, said he was proud of Allgaier, and also very happy for the entire team.
Earnhardt, who will run tomorrow, said there were a few things he took away from watching Saturday’s race. One of them, he said, was that the outside line is the best place to restart. He also mentioned how the heat means drivers need to be a little more careful.
“Four tires seem to be pretty important,” he said. “You can’t really gamble.”
Allgaier had a good start to Saturday but he wasn’t quite on top right away.
Stage 1 saw three lead changes between Allgaier and Erik Jones, driver of No. 20 Toyota. By the end of this stage, it was Jones came out on top by leading 51 out of the 60 laps.
Someone who did not have that much of a fortunate run in this first period was Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 18 Toyota. While entering Turn 1, Suarez lost his right-rear tire, which led to a crash into the outside wall. Suarez walked out of the medical center without injuries.
By Stage 2, there were six lead changes between Jones, Allgaier, Austin Dillon and Ryan Blaney. Blaney, driver of the No. 22 Ford, was the leader of this stage.
There were a few accidents throughout the day, including Joey Gase’s No. 52 Chevy catching on fire after his front right tire failed and sent him straight into the Turn 3 wall.
The last incident to bring out a caution was when Austin Dillon, driver the No. 2 Chevrolet, was running for sixth place with 11 more laps to go when he was spun out by Cole Custer’s No. 00 Ford.
Dillon was parked by NASCAR. No word at time of publication on penalties the driver could face. IMAGES: Daniel Courson/The Racing Experts SOURCES: Racing-Reference.info