Column By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – LAS VEGAS, NV – The Xfinity Series regular season concludes in Saturday night’s DC Solar 300 (5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and current championship leader Justin Allgaier is not only enjoying a career year but intent to turn it into a championship.
The JR Motorsports driver has five wins and leads Cole Custer by a healthy 49 points in the championship standings. The victory total is more than double that of Allgaier’s entire previous nine-year career competing in the series.
“Personally I feel that I’m in the best place I’ve ever been behind the wheel of a race car,’’ Allgaier said trackside Friday morning. “I’m more confident in what we’re doing. The better we run the more confidence you build and I think that’s been a huge part for me and it’s been a lot of fun this year.
“It took me almost 10 years to win five races and we’ve done that already this year. So I’m not going to take it for granted because I know how hard it is to get to victory lane. And how lucky we are right now to be in this position and hopefully we can carry this momentum through the playoffs and see what happens.”
Allgaier, who drives the No. 7 Chevrolet for JRM, has won three of the last six races, including last weekend at Indianapolis. He has a streak of 13 top-10 finishes, and has only one finish outside the top five in the last seven races. His best previous championship finish was third in 2016 and 2017.
A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO THE VICTIMS OF THE LAS VEGAS CONCERT TRAGEDY
Kyle Larson’s No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet will carry a special paint scheme honoring the victims of the 2017 Las Vegas concert tragedy. Several DC Solar company employees attended the music festival last October and were in the crowd during the shooting. The company has provided donations to the charities that help the victims. One of those charities, “58 Strong” will be on the Larson’s car this weekend. The www.58strong.org. organization was established to help support children who lost a parent in the tragedy.
CINDRIC, TEAM PENSKE GAIN SPONSOR
Xfinity Series championship hopeful Austin Cindric gained a key sponsorship with MoneyLion signing on to be the primary sponsor of Cindric’s No. 22 Penske Racing Ford this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, plus another three upcoming races to close out the 2018 season.
“Team Penske has an incredible record of success on the track, and as one of the most promising drivers in NASCAR, Austin Cindric is a great match for MoneyLion,” said the company’s CEO Dee Choubey.
“He and his entire team at Penske inspire fans and illustrate the power of dreaming big to achieve your goals. At MoneyLion, we aim to inspire people to take control of their finances to achieve their dreams- and we’re excited to introduce our products to NASCAR fans across the nation.”
Cindric is currently ranked 12th in the Xfinity Series championship standings with the regular season finale set for Saturday in Las Vegas. He’ll close out the season in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, which leads the owner’s championship with six victories and six poles with drivers Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Cindric.
“To be a part of their first foray into NASCAR and bringing a new sponsor into the sport and my age is really tied in with what they are able to do with the services they provide on the app,’’ Cindric said. “To have that tie-in with them being a young company and me being a young driver, trying to move up together, I think is an opportunity for a lot bigger things.”
HISTORIC RUN FOR HAILIE DEEGAN
Hailie Deegan made NASCAR history Thursday night as the first woman to qualify on pole position for a NASCAR K&N West Series race. She finished runner-up to Sheldon Creed in the race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. And while the historical moment is promising, the 17-year old Californian said she is encouraged but not satisfied.
“Coming back in here everyone was like, ‘Good job, a top-five.’ And I’m like top-five, what are you talking about?’’ Deegan said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“Everyone is saying, ‘You finished second, highest finishing place for a girl.’ And I’m like, no, I qualified on pole, this is actually back a position. It’s those things. First girl to qualify on pole but I don’t want to be the best girl, I want to be the best driver.
“That’s my mentality.”
The runner-up finish was Deegan’s second of the season, equaling her showing at Douglas County Speedway (Oregon.) earlier this season. She has four top-fives and nine top-10s in 11 races this season.