The Chili Bowl is the biggest of the indoor midget-car races run during the winter, and Allgaier is returning for the second straight season. This year, he’ll be driving his own No. 7 Boss chassis sponsored by K1 Speed in the five-day festival of speed. K1 Speed is also a JR Motorsports partner with Dirty Mo Radio’s JRM Up Front podcast the past two seasons.
Allgaier started out at age five in quarter-midgets on the dirt in his native Illinois, and by the time he was twelve, he had five championships to his name. Jumping up the open-wheel ladder to full-size midgets, the then-14-year-old Allgaier was the youngest driver to ever qualify for the A Main at the Chili Bowl in 2001.
It’s in his blood, so to speak, even after coming off the best NASCAR Xfinity Series season of his career. Allgaier finished third in the season point standings, five off the champion, and notched personal-best numbers in top-five and top-10 finishes in his No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet Camaro.
Super happy with practice today here @cbnationals.... the @k1speed @BOSSChassis is Really fast!! We race Thursday night pic.twitter.com/eYyBEUMFEZ— Justin Allgaier (@J_Allgaier) January 10, 2017
After sitting out the Chili Bowl from 2010 to 2014, Allgaier is pumped to be back for the second straight season.
“The car looks good, it has some K1 Speed colors on it this year, and we can’t wait to get to Tulsa,” he said prior to heading out west. “We actually got to make a practice run in DuQuoin, Ill. last month in the Jr. Knepper’s car. We started outside front row, tied for the highest point total of the night, the heats and the transfer features and so on. Ran second the majority of the race, led some laps and ultimately came home fourth. I just didn’t keep up with the adjustments in the car enough. It was a good start.”
Allgaier noted that the indoor dirt track in DuQuoin is not the same as the one he’ll race on this week. “The tracks are completely different,” he said. “The one at DuQuoin is a little shorter than the one at the Tulsa Expo. It was a good preview for Chili Bowl, though.”
Making the final A Main on Saturday night can be unbelievably difficult, Allgaier said. It boils down to one thing, in his opinion.
“Luck,” he stated. “I know that sounds crazy, but luck of the draw, how things go in your heat race… It all comes down to, what is luck? It’s when preparation meets opportunity. The preparation side of it, those guys have done a better job of being prepared than anybody else, and then when opportunity is there, you have to be able to make the most of it.
“I’ve had good luck at Tulsa and I’ve had bad luck. The year I finished third (2007), I had no brakes. The brakes went out on lap one. The track was super slick and you had to run around the bottom on the inside berm, and typically you would use a lot of brake. I had none. I feel like that kept us from having a shot at winning the race. You have to take the holes as they appear.”
Here’s the process for getting to the A Main on Saturday.
Today, Monday, is practice day, and all cars will take part in it. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, a full program is run, starting with hot laps and continuing on with heat races and transfer races. How you finish in the heats determines which of the transfer features you’ll be in. Allgaier called it the “alphabet soup of features,” and it typically starts with a letter. In 2016, that meant there was a D Main, a C Main and a B Main, with cars transferring up the ladder to the A Main. This year, 358 cars are entered, meaning about 90 cars per night will race.
“How you do on your night determines how you start on Saturday night,” Allgaier said. “The first three each night in the feature are automatically locked into the A Main, the next four go to the B Main, and so on. You could make the A Main on your night, and technically still be in a C or D Main on Saturday if you don’t finish the feature. It’s a really tricky weekend for sure.”
For reference, in 2016 the Saturday night program began with an N Main, followed by an M Main, an L Main, and so on down the line. Two B Mains determine the final qualifiers for the 24-car A Main for all the money.
.@J_Allgaier is back in action during this week's @cbnationals.— JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) January 9, 2017
➡️ https://t.co/rMSIXmlADU pic.twitter.com/DQbeyYwiKH
Stay tuned to JRMRacing.com this week for updates from the 31st annual Chili Bowl Nationals.
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