By Farrah Kaye
Staff Writer, NNSracing.com
Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 31 Wolf Pack Rentals Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports, is second in the NASCAR Nationwide Series points heading into the standalone Nashville Superspeedway race this weekend. He is second to teammate Jason Leffler, trailing by two points. Third full-time Turner teammate Reed Sorenson is fifth in points.
While Nashville is a standalone race, the Cup regulars doing double-duty will still be there. Allgaier, however, still feels it's a Nationwide-regular track.
"There are going to be a lot of Cup drivers there," Allgaier said. "But Nashville has been a race track that, as a Nationwide driver, we feel we have the ball in our court because the Cup guys aren't getting the extra track time every Sunday like they are on a lot of these other racetracks. I think we're all looking forward to it. Obviously, we want to get the points lead when we leave for sure."
Being first, second and fifth in points is a huge deal for a new team. When Turner bought Braun Racing in 2010, no one knew what to expect.
"Leaving Penske Racing at the end of the season last year, I was a bit nervous that I was going to be able to find something that was going to be as competitive," Allgaier said. "When Mr. Turner gave me the opportunity to get behind the wheel of his racecars, being an independent team is always an uphill battle trying to compete with the Cup teams. To have the Hendrick power as we do, have as good racecars as we're building, I feel like I jumped in equally as good if not better equipment. That says a lot for an independent team to be as strong as they have been.
"As a driver, it's comforting knowing we've come out of the box strong with a new team, new crew chief, new crew. Usually it takes at least five, ten races in before you catch your stride. We had a top two in Vegas, only to our teammate. To have the sixth place in Texas, seventh last weekend in Talladega, I feel like our strengths are slowly getting stronger. Hopefully by the end of the season, we'll have a great opportunity to run well each and every week."
The fourth car with rotating drivers can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing. Allgaier says it's great for the team, but not for the seat installers.
"Adding the Cup guys in only helps all of us because the information that they bring from the Cup side, the experience that they bring, they're definitely helping make our equipment better," Allgaier said. "Just like Mark getting the first win for Turner Motorsports at Vegas, that was huge not only for us as a company, but to be able to have that knowledge as to how to make his car faster ultimately was the reason why we were able to run second. I think that's going to be the case moving forward till the end of the season."
Allgaier, who was released from Penske Racing after his sponsor Verizon pulled out of the sport, says he questioned himself after it happened and wondered if he would find a ride.
"I'll tell you, it's something that I don't want to have to do again for a long time," Allgaier said. "Anytime you have a ride and it's going well, like it was at Penske, you almost get a little bit too comfortable. I think that's the one thing about the sport that we all have to remember is nothing's for certain. One of the funny things is, I kept asking what can I do differently, is there anything I can do better. I kept getting the same answer: Everything is going well. You're doing everything we're asking you to do. Everything is good. Sometimes doing everything exactly right still doesn't work.
"So it was tough to have the opportunity, to have that situation where I was out of a ride, not sure what I was going to do. But at the same time I've been around the garage for a little while now, I've met a lot of great people. I think the one thing that I just had to do was go around and lean on the people that I had met and the people that had helped me in the past and try to take those relationships that I had and try to build on them as best as I can. Ultimately that got me together with Mr. Turner and the guys at Turner Motorsports.
"For me it was bittersweet because I loved the fact I was getting the opportunity to work with a new team, but at the same time I was disappointed. I felt like we were really getting into our stride at the end of last season, would have been extremely successful this year. It's tough. But at the end of the day the only plan is there is no plan, you just have to go out there and race like there's no tomorrow."