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Family Fuels Justin Allgaier’s Pursuit of an Xfinity Championship at Phoenix

Justin Allgaier showcasing his lock screen of her daughters Harper and Willow, a main motivation of why he keeps racing in NASCAR. (Luis Torres | The Podium Finish).

AVONDALE, Ariz. – No stranger to the big dance, Justin Allgaier enters Saturday’s finale at Phoenix Raceway with a chance of capturing that long elusive NASCAR XFINITY Series title.

It will be Allgaier’s seventh Championship 4 appearance, the most of any driver in a single national touring division. Of his six previous voyages, all came up short with the seasoned veteran coming up one spot short in 2020 when Austin Cindric hoisted the trophy.

To make it in the Championship not once, but seven times, is one thing. It’s how he punched his ticket to Phoenix that painted the whole story.

While Richard Childress Racing’s Sheldon Creed and Austin Hill clashed heads on-and-off the track, it was Allgaier who became the ultimate opportunist at Martinsville Speedway.

Allgaier found an opening and rubbed fenders with Creed, just besting him by inches to win last Saturday. While his car was heavily damaged, it did not matter knowing he is going for a title in the 200-lap finale., even laughing the whole situation off because such actions from racers is a byproduct of the playoffs.

That laughter is especially because it was a cutoff race to determine who will compete for the XFINITY title this Saturday.

“I looked at post-race and I heard everybody say, ‘Oh well, I didn’t see anything that wasn’t acceptable driving wise,’” said Allgaier. “And I’m like, ‘Man, I come from probably a little bit of an older school.’ When I walk outta the racetrack, I want friends, not enemies. I’m probably gonna race a little bit differently than a lot of other drivers.

“That’s not a young or old thing and it’s not a dig on any one specific driver. I think it’s just the expectation of today.”

Come hell or high water, Allgaier knows he will always have his family with him, notably, his wife Ashley and their two children, Harper and Willow. He highly cherishes his family as the main motivation as to why he is still racing in NASCAR.

At times, the 37-year-old racer has contemplated stepping away but the fire of being successful and a father figure to his daughters keeps him going. It was very apparent when Allgaier showcased his lock screen image to the press during Championship 4 Media Day on Thursday.

“My lock screen’s pretty cool. My lock screen’s a picture of both my kids sitting at the beach with the bus in the sand,” said Allgaier. “This one’s interesting to me because people ask me a lot of times. ‘Hey, why do you still do this? Why do you still come to the racetrack year after year? Why are you still in the sport?’

“I want them to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and the time away from my kids and the time away from home. I hope one day they understand it, they won’t. Right now, they maybe never will, but I hope one day they do.”

Family is everything and with his rigorous schedule, Allgaier explained how sacrifices had to be made including who can make it to Harper’s softball tournament. Nearly a week ago and an hour away from Martinsville, her team won the championship game 19-1.

Justin and his parents attended the first game where the Lady Devils U10 Kerr squad won 19-0. Ashley attended the first two games before heading to the track and being with her husband when he won the chaotic cutoff race.

He explained how such sacrifice is part of Ashley’s job as a wife and mother of her children.

“(Ashley) said, ‘Look, I don’t know if you’re gonna make it or you’re not gonna make it,’” said Allgaier. “But she said, ‘You know, my first job that I signed up for was as a wife. And you know, we’ve obviously become parents and my second job is to be a mom, right?’ We have such a good support system with softball and families that are part of our team that she knew that they could manage it. But it was a kind of a surreal moment for me that she felt like my emotions, she was worried about that.

“I think that just goes to show like how tight we are, but also to the ups and downs of the sport. You never know what it looks like. She came to the racetrack, and I couldn’t be more thankful because I’m gonna be honest with you, if we hadn’t made it, I probably needed a shoulder to cry on. When we did make it, I needed a shoulder to cry on and she needed one too. But her emotion on top of the pit box, she’s as much a part of this as I will ever be.”

For as rewarding as the Martinsville victory was for Allagier, he admitted how difficult it was for him and his wife to be away for his daughter’s superb game.

“Now, the hard part was my daughter went on, she got her first home run, she got a shutout as a catcher, her and the other pitcher got a shutout in the game, and they won the championship game 19-1,” he said. “It was arguably one of the biggest moments in my daughter’s career as well.

“I’m super bummed that my wife wasn’t there, or I wasn’t there to experience it. But we win as a family, we lose as a family.”

Part of those characteristics have also played an integral role in getting JR Motorsports teammate Sam Mayer up to speed. Prior to winning four races and competing for a championship, Mayer had his doubts and Allgaier noticed the struggles from the young racer.

Mayer came into the sport with tremendous success in the lower ranks, but for awhile it had been troubling for him to live up to the hype. This was a trait Allgaier has grown to be frustrated because certain expectations can unfairly write racers out if it’s not immediate.

“The expectation of success in young age of how quickly do we have to get to that top level has gotten to a point that’s probably a little bit unhealthy,” said Allgaier. “We’ve set this different precedence, and this is not a knock on Sam, but I think Sam came in with an expectation level that was a lot higher than what reality was. And I think mentally as he was growing through his journey was really hard.”

If there is one characteristic Allgaier noticed from Mayer where he has grown this season, it is his maturity.

He explained how Mayer was down and out after crashing out on the opening lap at Texas Motor Speedway. Knowing the ongoing frustrations Mayer was having at the time, Allgaier stepped in and gave him valuable advice. There is nothing a person can do to fix the past, even when the outcome was negative.

“(Sam) was like head down dragging, bebopping to the garage there. And I was like, ‘Man, what’s wrong?” Allgaier asked Mayer. “’Oh, I’ve done ruined it. You know, I’ve given up and screwed my guys up and should’ve known better,’ Mayer responded during the exchange. “I’m like, ‘Listen man, you can be sad all you want, but you can’t fix the past. You can’t go back a week ago and go do it again. The only thing you can do is make it worse or you can make it better. And if you sulk and you are miserable and you do a bad job at the next one, because you’re sad about the last one, now you’ve double screwed over your guys.’

“I don’t know that he realized that in the moment, but then we went to the next race and Sam was like, ‘All right, I’m gonna do better.’ And he ran good, I think at Las Vegas and then won Homestead. He’s done a really good job and it’s hard to remember sometimes how young he really is and how little experience. I had a person a long time ago tell me that the tough part about three years of experience is it takes three years to get it. To get 30 years of experience, it takes 30 years to get it. And there’s no replication of just being in the moment having those opportunities.”

Through the thick of it all, Allgaier’s drive to succeed remains and likely stronger than ever. Although he has come up short many times in XFINITY, this season has been demanding because of the hard work he has put into his professional career.

Even if Allgaier were to come up short once more, the most important message he can give to his daughters is the refusal to give up on anything they have in mind of doing.

“If you don’t succeed at something or it gets too difficult, there’s always something else to go do. And I think for me, one of the things that my kids have seen is that every time I’ve been in this situation, and it hasn’t worked out the way that I wanted to, I don’t quit,” said Allgaier. “I don’t get angry about it, and I don’t kick and scream. I go back to work. And arguably from the very first time I had the opportunity to go to the Final Four to today, every time I’ve had that opportunity, and it hasn’t worked.

“I’ve gone to work even harder. 2023 has been the most effort, time, energy, more than I can say I’ve ever put into a season. It still may not work, and it still almost didn’t work at Martinsville. But I think for me, if I had one takeaway from both my daughters’ is don’t give up on something just because it’s hard. Don’t give on something because it doesn’t succeed the first time. There are people that have tried and tried and may never win, but they never give up on it. On the other side of that you can try and try and try and try and it works in your favor, but if you gave up the first or second time that it failed, you’d never know that you were at your full potential.”

Like Allgaier’s experiences with gaming, perhaps he is elevating even at his older age and veteran experience. In this case, perhaps old dogs can learn new tricks as he is a staying power in NASCAR XFINITY Series competition.

“For me, every time I’ve worked harder, I’ve unlocked new, new items that I didn’t even know I had,” Allgaier said. “It’s like leveling up on a video game. I keep unlocking those new features that I didn’t even know were built in.

“When I walk away from this sport, I want people to remember me for giving a hundred percent every time I go to the racetrack, never quitting. And even when it looks like all the chips are against you, you keep persevering and try to go for it. And my daughters can learn that should succeed in life for sure.”

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

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