Allgaier hitting his stride as Xfinity Series heads to Dover

It may have taken Justin Allgaier a couple races to get going this season, but the veteran is going and going fast. Last week‘s Darlington Raceway winner is the only NASCAR Xfinity Series championship-eligible driver to have ever won on this week‘s equally-notoriously tough track, the 1-mile Dover International Speedway. And he has done so twice.

Allgaier will line up second for Saturday‘s Drydene 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and is one of four drivers not only racing for a win but competing for a $100,000 bonus as part of the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash program.

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Noah Gragson, whose bonus-winning fourth-place finish at Darlington was disqualified post-race Saturday then reinstated Wednesday on appeal, is eligible for the money again this weekend. Josh Berry and Brandon Jones join Allgaier and Gragson. Three of them — Allgaier, Gragson and Berry — are JR Motorsports teammates. Jones drives for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Allgaier earned his second career Dover victory in the first part of a doubleheader weekend last August at the track, finishing 1.977 seconds ahead of eventual series champion Austin Cindric and leading 120 of the 200 laps.

Allgaier and Cindric are the only two two-time race winners in 2021. And they show up Saturday as the race favorites. Allgaier has had eight top-five finishes in the last 10 races there — including a six-race streak from 2017-20 when he finished no worse than third at the Dover mile. The driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has been runner-up three times overall, boasts a career average finish of 9.7 and led 334 of his career 353 laps led at Dover in just the last six races.

Historically, Allgaier has a tendency to go on winning runs. In 2018, he won twice in a five-race stretch and then three times in a five-race stretch later in the season. Last year, he won three times in a six-race late-summer stretch. His victory last weekend was his second in a four-race window.

“Dover has been a really good place for us these last couple of years and I can‘t wait to get back there with this BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet,” Allgaier said. “Hopefully we can unload with the same speed that helped us get to Victory Lane last summer here and that we can come home with that $100,000 Dash 4 Chase prize from Xfinity. I‘m really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

Cindric‘s showing at Dover last year — a runner-up and third-place finish – was indicative of a good weekend and what he is also capable of at the track. He has finished no worse than ninth in six career starts and has finished third or better in his last three races there.

The driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford is looking to reclaim his early-season hot streak. After opening the year with five straight top-five runs, he has only a pair of top-10 finishes in the last four races. It‘s still good enough to keep the 22-year-old 39 points ahead of second-place Daniel Hemric in the series driver standings.

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Gragson, who will be going for his fourth consecutive Dash 4 Cash bonus check, has historically counted Dover as a good venue. The 22-year-old has four top-10 finishes in five starts there. He was fourth in the first race of the Dover doubleheader in 2020 — leading 27 laps — and sixth in the second race.

No doubt having won the appeal this week and shown himself a factor in the race, Gragson is hopeful Dover will be a turning point in a frustrating 2021 run. He has three DNFs coupled with five top-10 finishes. His best showing is a runner-up finish at Martinsville Speedway.