DOVER TOWNSHIP, N.D. — Justin Allgaier had a tiff with a fellow driver last week that was as much about the veteran driver’s frustration over a lengthy losing streak than anything that happened in the Xfinity Series race.
A week later, Allgaier kept his cool, stayed in control and held off a streaking Austin Cindric to win his first Xfinity race of the season Saturday at Dover International Speedway.
The 34-year-old Allgaier snapped a 20-race winless streak and acknowledged the drought had frayed his emotions. He got into a post-race tiff with AJ Allmendinger at Daytona and said there were times this season he considered hanging up the helmet.
"Even as successful as we’ve been, it’s been tough: mentally, physically, emotionally," Allgaier said. "I can tell you that in the last six months, I probably told my wife 10 times I’m not ready to be a race car driver anymore."
Winning can cure the the biggest bouts of the racing blues.
The JR Motorsports driver, of course, couldn’t even celebrate with his family — his wife and daughter watched from a hotel near the track. Allgaier said he couldn’t wait to give them hugs and follow the advice of a friend who said, "go cause a party."
"Today’s win was huge," Allgaier said.
Cindric had been the driver to beat, coming into Dover with a staggering five wins in the last six races, and he seemed in control after he won the first stage.
"I don’t expect it to be easy the whole year," Cindric said. "Not that it was easy today. I drove my butt off."
Cindric is the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric and kept an eye this week on the action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading into Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Roger Penske bought IMS in January.
Austin Cindric’s pick to swig the milk? Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
"I know it would be a strange year to do it, but that guy has worked so hard," Cindric said.
Allgaier found his footing in the No. 7 Chevrolet in the second stage and controlled the second half of the race. Allgaier won a combined eight races from 2017-2019. His most recent win was at Phoenix last November. Saturday’s win earned him a spot in the Xfinity Series playoffs.
"These last 18 to 24 months have been crazy," he said.
Allgaier led a race-high 120 of the 200 laps at Dover and earned his 12th career Xfinity win.
"We believe in him and he knows that," crew chief Jason Burdett said.
Cindric was second, his seventh straight two-top finish.
"I had a great battle there with Justin," Cindric said. "He obviously wanted it really bad."
Allgaier had to keep his celebration to a short hop on the door and high-fives with his crew. He needed to save the engine because the Xfinity Series is back for a second race at Dover on Sunday. The field is inverted, so Allgaier will start 15th.
Ross Chastain, Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton completed the top five in the 200-mile race.
Chastain hopes to make the full-time jump to the elite Cup Series next season. Asked about his 2021 plans, Chastain cracked, "Hope not farming watermelons." Chastain, in fact, is an eighth-generation farmer and fourth-generation watermelon farmer.
There are five playoff spots up for grabs with six races left before the field is set.