The numbers tell the story of Justin Allgaier‘s impressive victory in Saturday‘s Mahindra ROXOR 200 at Darlington Raceway.
First and foremost, in defending the NASCAR Xfinity Series victory he claimed last spring at the Lady in Black, Allgaier broke a 34-race drought dating to that 2021 win.
For the second straight race, JR Motorsports posted a 1-2 result, with Noah Gragson trailing Allgaier to the finish line by .259 seconds in a two-lap dash to the end of regulation.
JRM drivers now have won three straight races in the series and three straight at Darlington, with Gragson having triumphed at the 1.366-mile track last fall.
Beyond the numbers, though, the key element on Saturday was the flawless execution of Allgaier‘s pit crew. After Allgaier finished third behind Gragson and Ty Gibbs in Stage 2, the crew got the No. 7 Chevrolet out first during a Lap 92 pit stop.
On the two stops that followed, Allgaier was first off pit road among the drivers who came in for service. When nine cars stayed out under caution for Joe Graf Jr.‘s crash on Lap 136, Allgaier restarted 10th on Lap 141 and advanced to second before Tyler Reddick slammed the outside wall on Lap 142.
On the subsequent restart on Lap 146 of 147, Allgaier quickly grabbed the lead form AJ Allmendinger, who had 16-lap older tires, and held the top spot to the finish, as Gragson pursued.
“This team right here — the pit stops today were killing it,” said Allgaier, who had finished a close second to teammate Josh Berry a week ago at Dover. “They were awesome. This Hellman‘s Camaro was so fast. Just a testament to the 7 guys, but everybody at JR Motorsports — they‘ve been working so hard. It‘s showing with our finishes, not just our 7 team, but all of us.
“We‘ve been doing this way too long, and you know how great it feels to get back to Victory Lane. … And by the way, it was awesome racing my teammates. That was probably the coolest part, racing my teammates all day, so hats off to those guys.”
Gragson delivered his eighth top-five finish of the season, including victories at Phoenix and Talladega.
“A 1-2 finish for our company, that was great,” Gragson said. “We had great points today. Two stage wins and a second place. I wanted that win. I was ripping the top. I went on a bike ride this morning with Justin Allgaier, right at sunrise. He said, ‘Man, I‘m going to run the bottom,‘ and I knew he was going to run the bottom.
“We ran at the fence all day. He got the win. Hopefully, we‘re selling T-shirts out on the concourse for ripping the top. I don‘t know if anyone was higher than us, and there‘s barely scrape on the right side.”
Riley Herbst ran third, extending his string of top-10 finishes to five. Friday‘s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race winner, John Hunter Nemechek, came home fourth, followed by JRM‘s Sam Mayer.
Landon Cassill, Brandon Jones, Allmendinger, Austin Hill and Daniel Hemric completed the top 10. Allmendinger has finished in the top 10 in all 11 Xfinity Series races this season.
Three JR Motorsports cars finished among the top five. The fourth JRM car of Josh Berry was running second when he was penalized on a late return to green for jumping the start. He placed 18th.
Richard Childress Racing rookie Sheldon Creed completed just 16 laps Saturday after a self-induced engine issue, Creed said. On the initial start, Creed shifted into neutral instead of fourth gear, over-revving the engine and resulting in a loss of power. He finished in last place.
The Xfinity Series returns Saturday, May 21 at Texas Motor Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Note: Post-race inspection in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is complete. There were no issues, confirming Allgaier as the winner of the race.
Contributing: Staff reports