By Lee Montgomery
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
Justin Allgaier didn't want to be a one-hit wonder.
Allgaier lost his ride with powerhouse Penske Racing after last season, and he could've headed to career oblivion like so many other young drivers in NASCAR.
"I didn't want to be a guy who left Penske Racing - and that was the end of my career," Allgaier said. "I didn't want to run around in 15th every week. I wanted to be the guy who left Penske Racing and came to another team and won more races. I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to do better."
The 24-year-old Allgaier did land on his feet, driving for Turner Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for 2011. And while he hasn't won a race for the former Braun Racing team yet, he's fifth in the Nationwide standings after a second-place finish in the last race at Las Vegas.
And he's headed to his favorite track, Bristol Motor Speedway, where he scored his first Nationwide Series victory last year.
"If I had to pick one racetrack, it would be my favorite," Allgaier said. "Getting my first win there and running as well as we have pretty much every time we've gone there. Unfortunately, the fall race seems to be my nemesis-we always get crashed. But the spring race, we've got a fifth and a first. I'm not going to complain about that at all."
Nor will he complain about the switch from Penske to Turner. Penske Racing won the Nationwide Series championship with Brad Keselowski last year, while Steve Turner is in his first full season as an owner in the series.
"Three hundred and sixty-five days makes a lot of changes," Allgaier said. "For me, I went through the ups of winning at Bristol and the downs of not having a ride and the ups of getting a ride. And now heading back to Bristol, I feel like the transition has been easy. The easiest part of it has been switching teams."
Turner has won a race this season, with Mark Martin at Las Vegas, and Turner's Reed Sorenson continues to lead the Nationwide standings.
Allgaier has a pair of top 10s in the first three races while continuing to meld with crew chief Jimmy Elledge. Elledge has experience in the Sprint Cup Series working with the NASCAR-certified chassis, which will be used for the first time in the Nationwide Series this weekend.
"At the end of the day, we're all kind of shooting in the dark," Allgaier said. "We're taking this new car to Bristol for the first time. There's a lot of unknowns, a lot of question marks. One of the good things is I've had a good car at Bristol, and I know what a good car feels like. I can bring that part of it to the table, understanding what I need to go faster."
What: Scotts EZ Seed 300
Where: Bristol Motor Speedway
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN, 1 p.m. Eastern
Radio: PRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128
Track layout: .533-mile oval
Race distance: 300 laps/159.9 miles
Qualifying: Saturday, 9:40 a.m. Eastern
2010 winner: Justin Allgaier
2010 polesitter: Brad Keselowski