How 'Young and Tenacious' Can Beat Experience in NASCAR Xfinity Playoffs

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Allgaier: NASCAR Playoff Experience Is No Big DealJamie Squire - Getty Images

'In 13 years of full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, Justin Allgaier has never finished outside the top 10 in the driver standings, and he’s made it to the championship round four of the last five years, but the 37-year-old driver says his experience can sometimes be detrimental in the current title determining format.

“Sometimes with experience you get set in your ways,” Allgaier explains. “You kind of get locked into what you think is going to happen or how you think a race is going to play out. Sometimes in that scenario, you almost put yourself in a box.”

The younger drivers that enter the series may have a little different outlook or expectation, notes Allgaier, who is the No. 3 seed entering the first race in the Xfinity Series playoffs Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.


“I think sometimes it’s easy to come in and just go for it and see what happens. I think as a veteran, somebody that’s got experience, you sometimes come in a little more tentatively,” Allgaier continued. “You maybe don’t put yourself in some positions that you would even during the regular season to try to win races because you know that sometimes being safe is a better route. I think sometimes with experience comes reservation.”

Allgaier points to his gray hair as proof that he’s done his “fair share of crashing and it does hurt, and I don’t want to do it anymore.”

“I think you just race differently than you would if you’re young and tenacious,” Allgaier says. “You have a little different outlook on what it takes to be successful. I think sometimes just throwing caution to the wind maybe would be a better approach.”

Allgaier entered the Xfinity Series fulltime in 2009 with Team Penske where he remained through 2010. He joined Steve Turner’s operation 2011-2013, then moved to NASCAR’s Cup Series fulltime for two seasons with Harry Scott Jr.’s operation. In 2016 he returned to the Xfinity Series fulltime and immediately found a title-contending home with JR Motorsports. After seven years with Jason Burdett as his crew chief, Allgaier had to adjust to James Pohlman calling the shots on the pit box this year. However, the crew chief change that occurred among all three JR Motorsports teams this year didn’t slow Allgaier who has won two races, recorded 11 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in 26 races, obtained two poles and led 361 laps.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot of ways to not win one (championship),” Allgaier says. “I haven’t figured out how to win one yet.”

Allgaier admits there have been times during his career that the championship had been determined with the old season-long format instead of the current playoffs. One of those years was 2018 when Allgaier won five races but finished seventh in the point standings.

“We won the regular season championship and didn’t even make it into the Final Four come postseason,” Allgaier says. “But I think that’s what makes this playoff format so unique and so interesting. It’s not about what you’ve done all year. It’s about buckling down when the playoffs start, having all these races go the way that you want them to go. You’re gonna have to have speed, but you’re gonna have to have a little bit of luck to go along with it and put yourself in good position."

NASCAR Xfinity Playoff Standings

  1. John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 2,049

  2. Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 2,039

  3. Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 2,026

  4. Cole Custer, Ford, 2,017

  5. Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 2,015

  6. Chandler Smith, Chevrolet, 2,009

  7. Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 2009

  8. Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 2,008

  9. Sammy Smith, Toyota, 2,006

  10. Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 2006

  11. Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 2,003

  12. Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 2002