Justin Allgaier has been a racecar driver nearly his entire life. After working his way up the ranks, in 2014 he finally made it to the pinnacle of motorsports, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Throughout the year, the team struggled to find solid finishes. The rookie driver finished 29th in the championship standings, and looked toward improving as a team in 2015.
Fast forward to 2015 and HScott Motorsports is in its second year of existence. The team added another car with full-time sponsorship and another second year driver, Michael Annett.
“I feel like we don’t necessarily always want the exact same thing in a racecar,” Allgaier told Speedway Digest. “We both go different directions to try and get the same outcome. He’s been somebody who obviously we kind of came into the sport at the same time and have transitioned through the years together. We can lean on each other for help and try to make sure the whole program moves forward.”
The duo wants to turn the corner and become even more competitive than they have been in the first five months of the season this year.
Allgaier currently sits 31st in the Sprint Cup Series standings. What the record book isn’t indicative of is the No. 51 team has had more speed this year than it did last year. The Illinois native recorded his first career top 10 of his young Cup Series career at Bristol in late April.
Bristol just so happens to be Allgaier’s favorite track on the circuit.
“I always try to find an excuse to not make Bristol not my favorite track,” said the driver. “Every time that I go back there and I make laps, it doesn’t take long to figure why it’s my favorite. I love going there. The racing is just awesome.”
It’s not hard to understand why he loves the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.” Back in 2010, while driving for Team Penske in the XFINITY Series, Allgaier picked up his first career win in NASCAR after starting from the 30th position.
Another race that stands out for Allgaier this season is Richmond, the race following Bristol. The No. 51 team was running in the top five for the latter part of the race due to some pit strategy and a strong handling car. Evidently, due to a severe stomach ache and an ill-handling racecar at the end of the race, he finished 18th. Though falling toward the end of the race, this could have been a chance to build momentum on for the entire team.
“It was a good pit call by Steve (Addington, crew chief), and I feel like clean air and just being up front accommodates why we were up front,” Allgaier said of Richmond. “It’s so hard because there is such a little amount of time that separates the field. At all the short tracks, you’re only talking about hundredths of thousandths of a second that’s the difference between four, five, six or 10 spots. For me, when we got to that point, we were able to maintain it because the lap times were so close. I think that puts a premium on qualifying for us.”
On the other hand, there have been some disappointments for the team over the course of the 2015 season.
Eight times this season, the team has finished outside of the top 30. Most of those finishes are due in part to bad luck as the team has had top-20 caliber speed.
In back-to-back weeks at Charlotte and Dover, Allgaier was caught up in two incidents, resulting in 42nd and 43rd-place finishes. The crash at Dover was a tough one to swallow since it happened late in the race after running in the top 25 for the first 300 laps of the day.
“When the spring months have come around, we’ve had a lot of bad luck and had a lot of things that haven’t gone the way we wanted them to and haven’t had the finishes to show for it,” Allgaier said.
There is always room for improvement, but at the beginning of the year, Allgaier got out of the box hot after being fairly competitive in the first handful or so of races.
“If we can get back to the form of where we were at the start of the year, I feel like we’ll be in a lot better shape,” he said.
One key part to the HScott Motorsports team as an entirety of the past few seasons has been veteran crew chief Addington. He has been atop the pit box for former Sprint Cup Series champions Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart, but was asked to help and turn around what was formerly known as Phoenix Racing prior to Harry Scott’s purchase of the team in the summer of 2013.
“Well, I think he’s been a huge part in where the team is at today,” Allgaier said of Addington. “The experience that he brings, the knowledge that he brings. The resources more than anything, having resources if we are in need of help or if we need to figure out what we need to do on parts or anything like that has been a big part of it. As a race team you definitely want to have someone like that in your corner.”
There are some race tracks that stick out to the No. 51 team, including Bristol, Darlington and Richmond, according to Allgaier.
“For us, if we get into the top 15 on a weekly basis, the top 10s will come,” Allgaier said as for some of his goals for the remainder of the season. “. If you can get the top 10s on a weekly basis the top fives will come. The biggest thing is just making baby steps and constantly moving forward at the end of the year.”
2015 is a contract year for the driver and sponsor. It will be crucial for Allgaier to perform well for the remainder of the season in order for Brandt to continue its funding of the driver going forward.