CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 27: Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 Unilever Chevrolet-A-Solidier, walks into the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27, 2022 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) | Getty Images
When it comes to personality, Justin Allgaier and Jason Burdett are polar opposites. But that’s what makes them such a successful pair at JR Motorsports.
Allgaier is more than an open person, someone who is ready to talk to anyone and everyone. Burdett likes to stay low and keep to himself, allowing the settings on his race cars to do the talking.
When Allgaier joined JRM prior to the 2016 Xfinity Series season, the duo had no idea each other. Burdett was coming off a two-win season with Reagan Smith as a driver in 2015, finishing fourth in the championship standings. Prior to that, he was Head of Automotive at Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon in the Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports, despite having a crew driving Dale Jarrett for 14 races during the 2007 season.
“When I first met Jason, we immediately had a great connection,” Allgaier recently recalled. “There was no doubt that there were times when we weren’t on the same page. It’s hard to have the working relationship the way we do and we have ups and downs.”
During the 2016 season, the duo’s first year together, Allgaier had one of his most consistent years to date, earning a 27-point lead in 10th place. The only downside was that Team #7 failed to make it to Victory Lane.
Allgaier attributes this to Burdett having to adapt from Smith, who had a different leadership style than himself. JR Motorsports as a whole won five races that year, split between Elliott Sadler, Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I think it’s just circumstances,” Algayer said of not getting into the Winner episode that year. “But we got over that and had some really good years and really good finishing touches.
“There are still times we’ve been at each other’s throats, but little turnover in our group [is small]. ”
Initially, like any new driver/crew chief relationship, Burdett needed to learn the Allgaier language. After developing a relationship with his driver, he realized what Allgaier was describing as really good or bad.
Off the beaten path, pairings have many similar interests. Allgaier grew up racing on dirt while Burdett’s son, 12, is currently racing in small sprints.
“I think that helps us a lot because we have other things to talk about,” Burdett stated. “if [competing] It was the only thing you had to talk about, it would make things difficult.”
Since 2016, Team #7 has won 16 races, won 92 races and 149 top 10 races. Of the six and a half years that Algayer and Burdett spent together, the average finish was 10.6 times worse (2017 and 2020).
There is no doubt that it was a successful pairing.
“It works because every time he walks the racetrack, I don’t doubt he gives 100%,” Burdett added. “Every lap he does, I think he does the best lap he can do.
“On the same side of it, he didn’t come [to JRM] Every day because I think he feels like as a team, we’re doing everything we can to give him the best car we can. I think there is a mutual respect between us for one another, inasmuch as we feel confident that the other is doing all they can.”
Since 2005, the Allgaier and Burdett group have made the second-biggest start of any major driver/crew lineup in the Xfinity Series with number 214. This only tracks Ryan Sieg and Kevin Starland at 233. A distant third on the list is Jeremy Clements with Ricky Pearson as crew chief (143) .
Having this solid relationship is personal to both drivers.
“I look at how many races we’ve won together,” Alger noted. “We’ve done a lot of first things. There have been times when you wonder, ‘Do you feel good, are you getting old?’ When we get to those moments, it seems like every time you might think about it, we have a race like we did in Nashville where you remove socks Just about everyone else and you go, “Why would you want to change that?” One day of success can fix 100 bad races.
“Once you get to know someone like that and overcome some big hurdles, it makes a huge difference. You want to know that the person working in your car has got your back and vice versa.”
Bordt fully agrees with his driver. He even said he’s been there a few times where he’s invited Allgaier to lie down, knowing he’d be spurred, adding, “Oof, he’s not too euphoric about that.”
“I prefer knowing every year that he will be the one driving and knowing we have what we need to go to every racetrack,” he said. “We’re going to go a few times over the course of seven years, so we can fine-tune things and work on it. That doesn’t necessarily happen when you have a new guy every year in the seat; it’s hard to get that frequency and know what someone is looking for.”
“We can count on each other to get out and do our job and not worry about it.”
As Allgaier has said several times in the past, he won’t move to the Cup Series only to say he’s running at the top level of NASCAR again. Burdett feels the same way, especially knowing that Team 7 can compete for a handful of wins each year.
With a third place finish over the weekend at the Indianapolis Road Course, Allgaier lost just one point to AJ Allmendinger, who is currently leading the regular season championship fight. Team #7 only sits 17 marks with six races remaining in the regular season. Over the last 11 races — dating back to Dover — Allgaier chipped 104 points for the 16th team’s points advantage.
In that time, Allgaier had three wins (Darlington, Nashville and Dover) and took advantage of JRM’s lights-out speed, winning two more races in that span with Noah Gregson and Josh Perry.
Now, the chance to win the second regular season championship is real.
“[Three] Months ago, the regular season championship wasn’t just a blimp on the radar.” “Now you have to go, ‘Maybe we do a good job and we can get there.” There are some races coming up that some of the other guys we’re chasing have the ability to go out and have a great day.
“But the year we won the regular season championship was, arguably, the worst playoff we’ve ever seen. If we don’t get there, I’m not going to take all my luck at getting the regular season championship. I want one at the end of the year after Phoenix.”
Allgaier hinted at the recent increase in velocity to get back to basics, considering what Team 7 has done well in the past and applying it. He thinks consistency is the name of the game.