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Amid roller coaster season, Justin Allgaier rides to Xfinity win in Richmond

Amid roller coaster season, Justin Allgaier rides to Xfinity win in Richmond

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Kind of like the stock market these days, Justin Allgaier has experienced volatility in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series this season.

He won his first race of the season a few weeks ago at Dover. He followed that with a slide, finishing seventh, 29th and 31st.

Allgaier hit another high point on Friday in the Go Bowling 250 at Richmond Raceway. Taking the lead late in the second stage of the race, then losing it to Justin Haley with a little more than 75 laps left, Allgaier went back to the front with 28 laps remaining and maintained a comfortable margin to claim the victory with no fans in the stands.

Haley finished second, followed by Kyle Busch.

Allgaier, 34, has six top-five finishes in 24 races this season for JR Motorsports. He’s had several finishes in the 20s and 30s.

Allgaier, who ran full time in the Cup Series in 2014 and ’15, is a regular in the Xfinity playoffs. He has 13 wins in the series — five in 2018 when he won the regular-season title but finished seventh overall.

He’s had nine top 10 finishes in 19 races at Richmond, but this was his first win.

“I feel like we’ve had so many get away here and just haven’t been able to seal the deal,” Allgaier said. “It’s been so frustrating. But proud of these guys, proud of the effort tonight. Pit stops were amazing. Everybody at JR Motorsports, they built a fantastic Camaro.

“I got damage early, so I feel bad. I had to make up for the damage early.”

Haley is best known as the little engine who could, the 20-year-old longshot who won a rain-shortened Cup Series race at Daytona last year in just his third start in NASCAR’s premium circuit.

With a caution out, Haley took the lead in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona last July. Lightning stopped the race shortly thereafter. Haley waited through a couple of hours of rain before NASCAR called the race and Haley became the winner.

For Cup Series regular Busch, the third-place finish was an opportunity to get a little bit of an advance scouting report on the track. That’s something others won’t have in Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race.

Cup Series drivers don’t have notes on Richmond this year because the spring race was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. NASCAR also has an aerodynamic package that reduces downforce at short tracks this year and a different tire that is supposed to wear more at short tracks. Plus there’s no practice and no qualifying.

“The tires have been throwing me off a little bit all year long,” Busch said. “It’s just a different feel, that’s for sure. I’ll try to wrap our head around it anyway, my head.”

The drivers and teams won’t have long to decompress. They’ve got to be back at the track Saturday for the second Xfinity race of the weekend, the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 250 at 2 p.m.

“We’re going to celebrate quickly so we can get this thing turned around and ready for [Saturday],” Allgaier said.

Nine of the 12 playoff spots had been spoken for with two races left: Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Haley, Allgaier, Harrison Burton, Ross Chastain and Michael Annett.

The regular-season finale is next week at Bristol.

tpearrell@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6965

Twitter: @timpearrelltd

Note: Complete results were not available at press time. Look for them in Sunday’s Times-Dispatch.

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