Justin Allgaier Prevails In Chaotic Martinsville Finish To Advance To Championship 4by Hunter Thomas October 28, 2023 0 comments
RIDGEWAY, Va. – Saturday’s finish in the Dead On Tools 250 couldn’t have gotten any crazier, and when the checkered flag flew at Martinsville Speedway, it was Justin Allgaier edging Sheldon Creed to the line to advance to the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway.
Allgaier entered the NASCAR Xfinity Series race fifth in the standings just one position out of the Championship 4 transfer spot and having never won at Martinsville Speedway. Allgaier has also yet to win a series championship, but on Saturday, he came one step closer after taking advantage of the Richard Childress Racing on-track scuffle, to just barely beat Creed to the finish.
“God is so good,” Allgaier said. “You fans that came here today – coming to the start-finish line I don’t think I saw a single person sitting down, and I was just hanging on trying to go as fast as I can. I hope everybody who crashed on the front straightaway is alright. Man, this Hellmann’s car has been lights out all year. It has been as fast as Xfinity 10G for sure.”
The win marked Allgaier’s fourth of the season, and now he’ll enter Phoenix for another shot at the championship. It was just last year, when Allgaier came up short to finish third in the season finale and Playoff standings.
“This is an emotional one,” Allgaier said. “I’ve been wanting to win at Martinsville for a long time, and man, I’ve been on the other end of that too many times, and to be able to come out of here tonight with a win and have a shot at the championship next week.”
The chaos up front developed following a 12-car pileup along the backstretch that brought out the red flag and set the field up for a NASCAR Overtime finish. Austin Hill who restarted on the inside of the front row had an opportunity to advance to the Championship 4 on points; however, Creed on the outside entered the race eighth in the standings, needing a win to get in.
The green flag flew to begin the NASCAR Overtime finish, and right out of the gate, Hill dove further to the inside of the track to block a potential move by John Hunter Nemehcek who was already locked into the championship round. As a result, Hill overdrove the corner and into Creed, his Richard Childress Racing teammate. The two battled down the backstretch until Creed fell in line behind Hill and pushed him up the track in Turns 3 and 4.
The move was unsuccessful for Creed, so he hit him harder entering Turn One for the final time, and then the drag race was on down the backstretch. The two drivers rubbed doors, with Creed earning the advantage through the final turns, however Creed slowed in Turn 4, and as a result, Hill slammed into the back of him, and Allgaier made a move to get alongside to challenge for the win. Hill and a host of other crashed hard on the frontstretch, while Creed finished second to Allgaier.
“I don’t like racing that way, and that seems to be the way that this race always plays out,” Creed said. “I beat him on the restart here and gave him plenty of room, and he just throttles up into my door there, and then I had an opportunity to push him up the bottom here. I got into the oil here, and the top rolled pretty decent, and then did it again into One. I thought we had it there coming to the checkered, but yeah, I don’t know. Not proud of racing like that, but a shot at a Championship 4.”
Hill went from third to 21st in just one corner and was not happy with his teammate. The two drivers have had history, so it was no real surprise.
“I spun the tires a little bit, and I overdrove my entry into (Turn) One because I knew the 20 (John Hunter Nemechek) went to go low and didn’t know for sure he was on the inside,” Hill said. “My spotter said he had a run, and then he didn’t. So, it wasn’t cool for me to do what I did into One, like driving him (Creed) up the racetrack, but I still kind of stayed off of him. He just did not give me a chance getting into (Turn) Three, and then he didn’t give me a chance getting into One. He just shoved me up the racetrack. I know he’s in a must-win situation, but still. Man, just uncalled for.”
Finishing behind Allgaier and Creed in third was Sammy Smith who also needed a win to advance. Following the race, Smith was not the slightest bit happy with his Nemechek, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Smith didn’t agree with the way Nemechek raced him, especially considering the No. 20 team was already locked into the Championship 4
“They were telling me that he (Nemechek) wasn’t going to make any enemies,” Smith said. “I asked him if he was going to choose the top, and he said he wasn’t going to do that. I had a good run on him and he went to block me down to the bottom. He didn’t want to make any enemies, but I’m really frustrated right now. He definitely made one. I’m not going to let that one go, and we will see how things go.”
Riley Herbst and Josh Berry rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Daniel Hemric who didn’t advance, as well as Parker Retzlaff, Anthony Alfredo, Jeb Burton and Parker Kligerman.
The race saw 13 lead changes among eight drivers. Smith led a race high of 147 laps.
The race was also riddled with cautions. The yellow flag flew on 15 occasions for 101 laps of the 256-lap race.
Next weekend, the Championship 4 field will consist of Allgaier, Sam Mayer, Nemechek and Cole Custer who was caught up in the last-lap chaos at Martinsville.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series season will conclude on Saturday, November 4 at Phoenix Raceway. The championship race will broadcast live on USA at 7 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images