In an unexpected substitute role, driving the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday afternoon, Justin Allgaier’s day was ended early at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Allgaier, filling in for Jimmie Johnson, was credited with a fourth place starting position, but by NASCAR rule, was relegated to the back of the field on the start due to a driver change after the draw for the starting order.
Before the competition caution flew on Lap 13, Allgaier had moved up to 30th, but everything went awry when the field came down the narrow pit road for service.
A chain reaction at the beginning of pit road began to crumple cars, and even a crew member (Ryan Blaney’s rear tire changer, Zack Price) was caught up in the calamity, and was transported to a local hospital from the track for further evaluation.
Many cars took on damage in the crash, including the No. 48 of Allgaier.
It’s a PILEUP on pit road at @IMS!
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The Ally Racing team worked hard to get the car back on the track, but just a few laps into the restart, the No. 48 was smoking and sparking, and Allgaier was told to pull it behind the wall, ending his day.
“The 15 (Brennan Poole) actually got into the back of me, and I didn’t know if I got the gentleman on the 12 (Zack Price) or not,” Allgaier said outside of the care center, live on NBC. “Once the wreck started happening in front of us, and we all got bottled up there, just one car after another, we’re getting run into, it’s just a shame.”
Allgaier only completed 17 laps before his retirement, and will be credited with a 37th place finish in his first NASCAR Cup Series start since 2016.
His last start in the NASCAR Cup Series was at Bristol Motor Speedway, four years ago, also in a substitution role, this for an ailing Michael Annett, driving the No. 46 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet. In that Bristol race, Allgaier was running just off of the lead lap when he was collected in an incident involving Kyle Busch, who had spun from the lead. The damage that day relegated Allgaier to a last place finish in 40th place.
The NASCAR nation was rocked on Friday evening when it was announced that Jimmie Johnson wouldn’t be competing this weekend in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400.
Johnson, and his wife Chandra, both tested positive for COVID–19, and by the NASCAR rules during the pandemic times, he will have to test negatively for the virus twice before he would even be considered to be allowed back inside the cockpit.
Hendrick Motorsports already had a plan in place, and without hesitation, named Justin Allgaier to the No. 48 for Indy, and Johnson was approved for a playoff waiver by NASCAR almost immediately.
Coming into Indianapolis, Johnson held more than a 60 point advantage over 17th in the standings, which means that he likely won’t fall out of the playoff picture this week, but if he can’t get back into the seat by the next race at Kentucky Speedway, his chances will be diminished.
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