LEBANON, Tennessee – On a blazing hot day at Nashville Superspeedway, Justin Allgaier fulfilled a dream in one of the best race cars he’s ever owned.
Allgaier led five times over 134 laps and won the first two stages of the Tennessee Lottery 250 on Saturday. He dragged himself to his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win on the 1.33-mile concrete track, his second of the season and the 18th of his career.
RELATED: Race results † At-track photos
Allgaier’s No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet crossed the finish line in 4.513 seconds ahead of runner-up Trevor Bayne, who overcame an interference penalty on pit road judged when two of the tires of his No. 18 Toyota rolled into pole behind gasman winner Riley Herbst’s neighboring pit box.
“This guitar has been on my bucket list for a long time,” said Allgaier, who won in his eighth start in Nashville, dating back to 2009. After a 10-year hiatus from racing the track, Allgaier finished second last year.
When asked if he had ever driven a better race car, Allgaier replied quickly.
“I never think,” he said. “What a race, man. We’ve been coming here for a long time and I love this track. I tried so hard to win, but I couldn’t.
“Today was like a dirt race. It was slippery, it was hot, we slithered around… I’ve got a guitar to take home, and we’re definitely going to enjoy it.”
Chevrolet drivers have won the last seven Xfinity Series races, with JR Motorsports drivers winning five. Allgaier’s two stage wins were the 11th and 12th straight on ovals for JRM.
Herbst finished third, followed by Ty Gibbs and Sam Mayer, both of whom were involved in a late-race incident that caused Gibbs to flip No. 54 Toyota sideways – accomplishing a masterful save.
Ryan Preece, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Austin Hill, Ryan Sieg and Brett Moffitt rounded out the top 10.
AJ Allmendinger, who finished in 16th place, maintained the lead in the series with 25 points over Gibbs in second place and 32 points over Allgaier in third place.
Mistakes cost Bayne a chance to race for the win.
“We rode to second twice, from behind,” he said. “On the second leg, we came in with Riley (Herbst) and hit a pit crew member, not intentionally, but it can happen. Then fell back to 15th and drove back to second.”
“Then we had a loose wheel and had to go all the way back and we drove back and caught Allgaier. He’s my friend, Gator, congratulations on him. Happy for him, but man, I wanted to win that guitar and win here in Nashville .”
“I feel like we’ve done everything right on the car and I feel like I’ve done everything behind the wheel. We have to clear the mistakes and we’re going to win because every part of this deal is needed.”
Herbst admitted he was unable to challenge Allgaier’s dominance.
“I don’t think the whole field had anything for the 7,” Herbst said. “I think he was on cruise control all day. I messed up a few times on the pit lane, myself and the team, so we need to clean up a bit there, but all in all it was a good day. We have a pole and good points. This is what we have to keep doing: just knock on the door and eventually it will open.”
REMARK: There were no problems with the post-race inspection, which confirmed Allgaier as the winner. Cars Nos. 6, 10, 31 and 44 each had one wheel nut loose.