JR Motorsports Back On Track After Atlanta Xfin Win

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 21 2021

Justin Allgaier got JR Motorsports back on track. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

HAMPTON, Ga. – After JR Motorsports’ strong bid for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, the Mooresville, N.C.-based operation was expected to immediately intimidate its competitors when this season began. 

However, that’s not been the case. Instead, 2021 has been filled with frustrations and disappointments. From multi-car crashes in the season opener at Daytona that eliminated all four of the organization’s entries to engine failures, the 2021 season has been exasperating. At Homestead, Noah Gragson was just two laps away from victory when he was involved in a crash. The organization didn’t record its first top 10 until the season’s third race and it took another week for it to acquire a top five.   

Entering Saturday’s Echo Park 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, JR Motorsports owned only one top-five and five top-10 finishes among its four teams.

“I think there has been a lot of disappointment (this first month),” said Justin Allgaier, who finished second in the standings last year. “There’s been a lot of drive and ambition…but there’s been a lot of disappointment. It’s hard week-in and week-out when you just feel like you’re getting kicked in the teeth no matter what you do. All four cars have had speed week-in and week-out … but it’s been dumb things. 

“I’ve been miserable the beginning part of this year. Not from a standpoint of finishes, but more so from the fact of not living up to the expectations I put on myself, the expectations the team has.”

It took until the season’s sixth race – Atlanta — for JR Motorsports to exhibit the strength everyone expected from the organization with all three of its full-time drivers producing top-10 finishes. Allgaier snared his 15th career victory, holding off a charging Martin Truex Jr., who led twice for 103 laps in his first Xfinity race since 2010.  Gragson wrestled a damaged race car to a fourth-place finish and Michael Annett claimed seventh. Part-time JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry produced a strong performance before a trip through the grass at the pit road entrance ripped off his car’s splitter with 31 laps remaining. 

“Obviously, today (Saturday) didn’t go as planned for everybody in our group, but I feel like all four of our cars showed speed throughout the course of today,” Allgaier said. “When you’re down and out it’s hard to build momentum. I think today is a great start to that. As a hold, today was a good day for our company. We just have to keep plugging along. Keep doing our jobs and we’ll be in good shape.” 

  Despite the disappointments during the last month, Saturday’s victory marked the first time Allgaier has won this early in the season since 2017. The organization also owns half of the field in this year’s Dash 4 Cash, which begins April 9 at Martinsville Speedway. Allgaier and Gragson qualified for the bonus program’s first race along with Harrison Burton and A.J. Allmendinger. The Xfinity Series won’t compete on the dirt at Bristol and then will be off for Easter before traveling to Martinsville.  

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 21 2021
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