Justin Allgaier leaves it all on the track but falls short in title battle

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 07: Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 BRANDT Chevrolet, Chase Briscoe, driver of the #98 HighPoint.com Ford, and Austin Cindric, driver of the #22 Menards/Richmond Ford, race during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 at Phoenix Raceway on November 07, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Justin Allgaier and crew chief Jason Burdett tried everything.

Under caution on Lap 172 of 200 in Saturday’s Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 at Phoenix Raceway, Burdett called Allgaier to pit road for his last set of sticker tires.

Even on fresh rubber, Allgaier couldn’t catch race leader Austin Cindric, as the drivers battled for position and the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.

When title contender Chase Briscoe spun on Lap 198 to cause the final caution and set up a two-lap overtime, Allgaier stayed on track and inherited the lead while Cindric came to pit road for new tires. When the cars lined up for the final restart, Cindric was right behind Allgaier in the outside lane.

Allgaier’s lead was short-lived. With better tires, Cindric quickly charged to the front as Allgaier fell to fifth at the finish but salvaged second in the final series standings.

“First of all, hats off to Austin and the whole Team Penske group,” Allgaier said. “They’ve been strong competitors all year. To have the race they did tonight, they were obviously the best car, and they deserved to win.

“Proud of our guys, proud of everybody at JR Motorsports. We had a shot at it at the end. When it’s all said and done, that’s all you can really ask for.”

Allgaier knew his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was in trouble when he and Ross Chastain were the only lead-lap cars to stay on the track during the final yellow.

“I knew that (Cindric was) going to be good on tires,” Allgaier said. “I was hoping to see a few more cars in my rear-view mirror when we took the green… We didn’t have the speed at the end. We were off a little bit all night.”