As Justin Allgaier parked his usual No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet on pit road following a third place run in the Pocono Green 250, he was met by a representative from Spire Motorsports. The NASCAR Xfinity Series regular was being called upon unexpectedly to drive in the second race on the day, the Explore Pocono Mountains 350 in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Earlier in the Xfinity Series race, the scheduled Spire Motorsports driver, Justin Haley, was involved in a hellacious incident after contact with Sam Mayer spun him hard into the inside wall and back up into the path of Ryan Vargas. As Haley escaped the wrecked vehicle, for a moment, things looked fine. A moment later, he put himself on the ground, on his back, just trying to catch his breath.
At the infield care center, Haley emerged after a few minutes, seemingly fine, cleared by the doctors at the track. If he was called on to go later in the day for the Cup race in the No. 77, he would do it, but it was the first time he could remember the wind getting knocked out of him, at least in a long time.
In an abundance of caution for Haley’s health and considering many other factors, the move was made to park Haley for the rest of the doubleheader day. Allgaier took the job and strapped in for another 350 miles in a car he hasn’t driven yet in 2021. Haley is moving up to the Cup Series full-time with Kaulig Racing in 2022, and is racing for a title with them in the Xfinity Series in 2021, so as a non-essential race on the calendar for Haley, the move made sense.
The Xfinity Series race was no walk in the park for Allgaier, as even in a podium finish, there was a lot of obstacles to overcome to get there. Allgaier had speed and led at points, altering his strategy from others in the field. At times, it looked like he had a third place car at best, but by going on the right strategy, he could have prevailed.
Allgaier ended up on the same strategy as the eventual winner, Austin Cindric, but after contact with Blaine Perkins in the middle of it, the splitter was damaged. There was also some drama with Harrison Burton, which ended up in a wrecked No. 20, but Allgaier had to put it all behind him quickly to focus on the new task at hand.
Allgaier took an unfamiliar car and kept it clean for 350 miles, at one point running as high as 16th. Staying out long and waiting on a caution that never came, the No. 77 ended up losing a lap on the final pit stop, ultimately coming home 25th.
The next race up for both series will be at Road America on the Fourth of July holiday weekend. It was good fortune that Justin was able to fill in for an ailing Justin, but this Justin knows that those Justins will be ready to go back to racing against each other next weekend.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com