THE MODERATOR: We’ve now been joined by Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Brandt Chevrolet who came home in the 14th position today. We’ll take questions for Justin.
You and I talked in the garage area starting this weekend, and you told me then we had nothing to lose and you certainly put it all out on the table tonight. Is there any real ?? I know there’s a little bit of disappointment, but what’s the emotion now just looking back on it knowing that they knew you were here?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I’m not sure if they knew we were here or not. We didn’t have the speed we were looking for tonight. It was disappointing. I mean, we felt like yesterday in practice the seven laps that we got that our balance was pretty good, and we were excited about tonight because we felt like the things that we worked on yesterday and the things that we had worked on in the shop and trying to make better for our program we had done. And unfortunately tonight we just ?? we were just way too loose to really push at the speed that a lot of those guys were running. It was disappointing.
When I was able to run the top there for the middle part of a runny thought we were okay. We weren’t great, but we weren’t as bad. But just didn’t have the speed that we were looking for tonight. It’s disappointing, but at the end of the day, to race the way that we did, to have the playoffs that we did, to not only get the win at Phoenix but to really execute at the races that we needed to and point our way to Phoenix I thought was really good.
We’ve got a lot of work to do. Everybody at GMO Sports, it’s funny because we talk about the off?season, but come Monday morning we’re already focused on what we need to do better in 2020. Noah had great run tonight. Ran really, really well, and it’s encouraging because I feel like we know the direction they went. We were a little bit different, and obviously it worked for them. We’ll keep plugging along. I’m disappointing in fourth, but at the end of the day, we had a shot at a championship tonight, and just weren’t able to capitalize on it.
35 or 36 to go, right after that last set of green flag pit stops and you threaded the needle between it was ??
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: It was Cole and Reddick.
What was going on at that point?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: What was going through my mind was I was really surprised the 00 cleared himself to the fence because we were running about 90 miles an hour faster. I could tell that Tyler was kind of moving up and the hole was going to be closing, and at that point I just had to try to go for it because if I would have checked up or tried to do anything we’d have probably all three wrecked in the middle of that straightaway right there. I just stayed in it and went with it, and it worked.
What’s going through your mind when the tire starts going down and you very gracefully or graciously even made your way on to pit road not to affect the outcome of the race?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Yeah, I mean, that was probably the hardest one. Chase sitting here probably got in the wall less than we did, and the caution came out, and it didn’t for us. So I was pretty bummed in that. But on the flipside of it, once this didn’t come out, there was no reason to try to cause a caution. We weren’t fast enough really to be in that position anyways, and it ?? at the end of the day, I probably could have done something to benefit ourselves there.
The unfortunate part is you’ve got a long way to go to get back to pit road at a slow speed and that ended up putting us two laps down, which we were able to drive our way back to one lap down, but the time that we lost just trying to get back to pit road really, really affected the outcome of where we finished tonight, which didn’t matter, but just for going into the off?season you’d rather have a better finish than where we finished, 14th, 13th, 15th, something like that. Disappointing.
Witnessing the camaraderie that you had with Tyler the other day at media day, it was really kind of heartwarming, and just ?? you know what his struggles were last year. I’m just curious how much have you seen him grow in this series because you’re one of the veterans if not the veteran, the guy in the Xfinity Series. How have you seen him grow and mature into somebody that the sport can be proud to call a champion?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Well, I think this race a year ago really was the difference maker for Tyler. All the things that we’d gone through, I think you were standing there when we were talking about some of the moments of last year where it was like, come on, man, get your act together. We’ve got to figure this out.
Tyler has done a great job, and obviously making the switch to RCR this off?season, it was weird not having him as a teammate. We get along really well and we see each other in the garage and we still talk and hang out. But I felt like Tyler did a lot better job this year of just being focused, and he did a lot better job especially during the regular season of being there. I think they ended up with six wins. Tonight was six, right? So he did a great job, had a great season, and obviously is a two?time champion. He is somebody that has done a great job here and really ?? I think at the end of the day, it’s cool to see that the top three are moving on to the Cup side and you’ve got three guys this really represent this sport and this series really well.
Xfinity and the Xfinity Series should be really proud of the guys that are moving on. I think they’ve done a great job kind of cultivating that group of young drivers, and it’s cool to watch.
Justin, did you feel the lack of practice hurt you? Would you have preferred to have had a deal like the Cup cars had where you could have practiced today instead of qualifying?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Well, as bad as I qualified, yeah, because I think we would have started somewhere in the top four, so I’d have been much, much happier with getting more practice and not qualifying. But on the flipside of that, I thought everybody is in the same boat. We came here and we knew we needed to find speed somehow, and so we pushed as far as we could push, as far as trying something new, trying something different. It wasn’t what we normally would have run. It was something that we thought would be better here based on kind of what the 9 ran here last year and what they’ve run here actually the last couple years.
This new tire that we had here really changed the game. I felt like it didn’t allow you to move to the top as quick. I felt like even the 22 and the 00 ran a lot lower kind of all day than I felt like they normally would have been able to with the old tire. I thought that threw a little bit of a wrench into everybody’s scenarios. But at the end of the day, I think we did what we needed to do in those seven laps, and it just didn’t work out for us. We just missed something kind of where we were trying to nut and bolt everything back together, and just didn’t get the balance exactly where we needed it to be at.
You said that you start working on next year tomorrow or Monday. How does the dynamic of the series change without Bell and Reddick and Custer?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Well, I mean, you look at the job that Noah did tonight and you look at the job that Chase has done all year, I mean, really Noah has done all year, too, but especially tonight. I think you look at the drivers that are coming in, I think the Gibbs replacement drivers that are going to be there are going to be really competitive and have a lot of fun.
I think it’s just going to look different, but I think it’s going to be great, great action. I think you’re going to have some guys that are going to have to take a few races to learn at the beginning of the year. My goal is to capitalize on that.
But on the other side of that, I think that it’s just going to look different. With Ross coming back and running full time, I think he’s going to be competitive week in and week out. I still think you’re going to have cars that are capable of winning every week, it’s just going to maybe be different names above the door.
What did Harper say to you after the race?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: She come over and she said, “I love you, daddy, and I got you something to cheer you up,” and it was a lug nut. It was a used lug nut even, and it still had the anti?seize on it, so I ended up with anti?seize all over my hand.
I think that’s something that ?? just hearing Chase talk about getting married, for me that was a big deal. My wife and what she has done for me as far as just my mentality going into these races, I would have never have been in the mentality that I was in going into this weekend without my wife and my daughter, but then to have that ?? as they grow in the marriage if they decide to have kids, he’ll get that part of it, too.
Today was a rough day in my job, but from all other standpoints it was a fantastic day. I’m blessed to come and do what I love to do. I get to drive a race car every day for a living, and it’s just a good day. I mean, even being 14th and finishing a lap down and being fourth in points, that’s still better than a lot of guys that wish they would be in that same situation, so how can you be disappointing when there’s plenty of people standing in line waiting to have that same opportunity?
I know you said you kind of struggled from the drop of the green flag. What specifically were you lacking in your car?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: My biggest issue tonight was right rear grip, getting the car to kind of set into the corner, being able to pick the throttle up on corner exit. I felt like that was where the guys around us were able to excel. They were able to get the power down a lot quicker, a lot more efficiently. We made some big swings at it. That was probably the hardest part, we made some big swings at it on pit road, and we fixed certain areas of it, and we just couldn’t fix all of it.
That goes back to the practice question. If we had been able to run some more laps on a set of tires, we would have probably seen some deficiencies that we had, and we would have made some changes, and then truth be told, if we were to do it all over again, we’d have probably seen how good the 9 car was and probably switched our balance more towards what they were.
It puts you in a box, but at the end of the day, we chose the wrong check mark, and it didn’t work out for us?
Just really quickly, I know it’s very in the moment right now, but do you think with the three drivers that you were battling tonight moving up a level, do you think that makes you a favorite to get back here next year with a chance?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: No, I really don’t. I think these things are ?? you watch drivers mature over the course of a season, and I’ve been in this sport for a number of years, and I still feel like every year I learn little details that make me better week in and week out, and I know that the drivers that are coming in to replace those drivers, they’re going to be on their A game, and I don’t think that there’s going to be any weeks that you can relax next year.
I mean, yeah, don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be disappointing to see them go. They’re great competitors, they’re fun to race against. They kicked our butt a lot this year. To look at the seasons those three had, it was big. But you know what, that’s what happens. That’s what you’re supposed to do; you’re supposed to come in this sport and win and be able to move on to the Cup side and get that opportunity, and they’ve done that, and it’s fun to watch.
I know you went to congratulate Tyler, so what did you tell him? What do you tell a champion?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I just told him I was proud of him and how great of a job he did tonight. He’s done a great job all season, but how great of a job he did tonight. It was cool to watch. And I saw Randall as I was walking through, as well, and RC, and Tyler’s dad and grandfather.
I gave all of them high fives and told them all congratulations, because at the end of the day, they made the switch this off?season coming off of a championship and kind of into the unknown. I felt like if they had stuck around in the 9 car, they could have probably easily won as many races or more this year in that 9 car just from the chemistry that they had.
To make that switch and then to ultimately have the same outcome ?? is that the first time that one driver has ever won two championships in a row with two different teams? That’s ?? in Xfinity, yeah, that’s an impressive stat.
I think that I felt like for me, it took me a while to get over there. I didn’t make it very far signing some autographs, which was great. It was nice to have all the fans stick around and hang out there, but once we got in there, I just wanted him to know how proud of him I was.
As competitors obviously our job is to go out there and win races and win championships and beat each other, but Monday through Wednesday there’s a lot of us that are friends. I still think even though you get your butt kicked by somebody, you can genuinely be happy for him. Today I was genuinely happy for Tyler. Any of the three that we raced against that would have won, I would have been happy for, but just wanted to make sure he knew that.
I was proud ?? I told him, too, I was proud to see you get a Chevy in Victory Lane and get a Chevy a championship. That’s what we talked about. We had a great shot at it, and we kind of bookended unfortunately. I was hoping to go one?two on the Chevy side, but it was still a good weekend for us.
THE MODERATOR: Justin, we appreciate you spending some time with us tonight after that finish, and we wish you the best of luck next season.
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