Hater Fan Points Way To Victory For Allgaier

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 9 2021

Xfinity Series driver Justin Allgaier celebrates after winning at Darlington on Saturday. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Darlington, S.C. – In the closing laps of Saturday’s Steakhouse Elite 200 Justin Allgaier spotted something that provided him with additional inspiration: A man wearing a blue T-shirt in the Darlington Raceway grandstand giving him the finger with both hands. 

“I’ve always heard the term haters are motivators,” Allgaier said after claiming his first Darlington victory. “I don’t necessarily always agree with that, but today I would agree with that in this case.”

Allgaier was headed for the final restart in the overtime event that had nine caution flags for 43 laps when he first caught sight of a woman wearing a Dale Earnhardt T-shirt giving him the No. 3 sign and then thumbs up. For Darlington’s popular “Throwback Weekend”, Allgaier’s JR Motorsports Chevrolet carried the paint scheme used by Earnhardt in the 2000 Daytona 500.

“I thought, ‘Man, that’s pretty cool!’” Allgaier said about the woman.

Then about 10 feet beyond her Allgaier spotted the man presenting him his two middle fingers. When Allgaier saw it he was determined not to let this year’s Darlington Xfinity race slip from his grasp. Allgaier and teammate Josh Berry, who were leading the field, dove into the first turn on the final restart and Allgaier grabbed the lead. The Illinois native then held on to the No. 1 position for the green-white-checker finish to take a narrow victory over Berry.

“It was interesting to see the difference in emotion from one to the other,” Allgaier said about the two fans. “I don’t know why the gentleman didn’t like me. It didn’t matter at that point. It was the fuel I needed to go out there and have a great, great final restart and go to victory lane.” 

Allgaier noted the drivers see a lot more of the fans’ conduct in the grandstands at speed and during caution periods than they might think. 

“We see those fans that are cheering us on and other activities,” Allgaier said. “When you’re rolling around there we’re hyper-focused on what’s going on. Most race car drivers have pretty good peripheral vision and so you’re seeing things going on outside your view. You’re doing your best not to pay attention, but under yellow you pay attention.” 

It’s been the pandemic, however, that’s made the drivers realize the fans’ importance. 

“We’re battling in a space where there’s a lot of opportunity for fans to do a lot of other things outside of coming to a NASCAR race and watching us race,” Allgaier said. “Every fan that comes and truly supports what we do, that’s incredible. You think about the amount of hours that people work nowadays, the time and energy they put into their jobs, their kids, their other activities. You’re asking for a lot for them to come spend their day or their weekend or at home watching on the couch. It means a lot to us because we understand the sacrifice they are making to give up that amount of time. I probably didn’t have as good an understanding when the pandemic started.”

Now, however, the fans’ passion for the sport is one thing Allgaier loves. 

“Today was probably one of the more packed grandstands we’ve had since the pandemic and to see the ages from little bitty kids all the way to elderly folks in the grandstands, it truly humbles you as a person to watch all those folks give up their time to come and cheer us,” Allgaier said. 


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 9 2021
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