NASCAR – Justin Allgaier, When Nice Guys Finish First

There are a ton of good people in the world of NASCAR.  Oh sure, like anywhere else, you’ll find a few bad apples or perhaps a driver or two that may be a bit moody but in general NASCAR drivers are some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet.  They’re easy to root for.

Justin Allgaier, When Nice Guys Finish First

Saturday afternoon, Xfinity Driver, Justin Allgaier won for the fourth time this season, taking the series point lead away from Christopher Bell.  Allgaier, who drives for Jr. Motorsports is having one of his best seasons in racing.  The Riverton Illinois native was born in 1986 to Mike and Dorothy Allgaier who both have a passion for racing.  Justin’s wife Ashley and their daughter Harper are often at the track on race day.  For the Allgaier’s, it is a family affair.

I first had an opportunity to talk with Justin Allgaier several years ago in the garage area of Pocono Raceway.  I’ve chatted with dozens of NASCAR drivers and sat in on numerous press conferences.  The thing that strikes me about Allgaier is he is just that unique kind of man who makes you feel like he’s your friend immediately.

That first by chance meeting was near the NASCAR hauler in the garage area.  Justin was sitting in a chair resting a bit prior to getting into his car for a practice.  He immediately stuck up a conversation and we talked about racing.  Just basic stuff, his favourite tracks, his experiences with different people and places.

I remember thinking to myself at the time how easy and thoughtful and friendly that entire conversation had been.  Never having met the man before, the conversation felt much like one I would have with a good friend.

Allgaiers Make Racing a Family Affair

Since that first chance meeting, I always make an effort to find Justin at the track during the race weekend.  Often I will see his Dad Mike as well and if you talk to Mike, you’ll understand where his son got his demeanour.  If you look up the word “class” in the dictionary you might very well find a picture of the Allgaier family.

Allgaier’s ride in the Cup Series was never well funded and the results were never good.  Sometimes no matter how talented the person behind the wheel is, if the car is slow, the results are poor.  Eventually, Allgaier would leave his ride for HScott Motorsports and head back down to the Xfinity race.  His move to Jr. Motorsports has rejuvenated his career.   Through the good times, and the bad, his disposition has not changed one iota.

Justin’s victory this weekend at Road America has solidified his place among the top contenders for the Xfinity Series Championship.  It should also get the attention of a potential move back up to the Monster Energy Cup Series level.

A couple of seasons ago at Watkins Glen International, I asked Allgaier about running on the road courses and the challenges that they present.  He had a huge smile on his face and replied that he absolutely loved running on the road courses.

Why?  “Because not a lot of us know what the heck we are doing.  That makes it fun”, he responded.

Fast forward a few seasons and it appears that Allgaier has figured out the road courses.  Talented drivers with good cars usually do that. Later on, that weekend, as I was watching part of the race from a location at The Glen known as the Esses, I looked back at the last row of the grandstand and saw Mike Allgaier with a radio in his hand, spotting for his son.

“I love it when Dad spots for me.  He has a calming influence on me when things start to get hot”, Justin told me later that day.

The Last Word

There are so many stories today of athletes gone wild.  Drugs, arrest, domestic abuse and the like are a frequent occurrence in today’s sports world.  NASCAR is fortunate to have plenty of good people in the sport.  That said, if there were a Hall of Fame for good guys from good families, I’m guessing there’d be a plaque with Justin Allgaier’s picture on it.

Today as you look atop the point standings for NASCAR’s Xfinity Series you’ll see Justin Allgaier atop that list.  Nice guys rarely win in sports.  When they do it’s a special moment.  Saturday afternoon was a special moment.

Thanks for reading.  Listen to WTBQ radio on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:45 as I join Frank, Taylor and the Morning Show gang to discuss all the current happenings in NASCAR.  1110AM 93.5FM or online at WTBQ.COM.  You can also follow me on twitter @JimLaplante

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