After months of speculation Phoenix Racing officially announced last week Justin Allgaier as the driver of the #51 car for 2014. Despite his lack of experience in NSCS competition Allgaier’s impressive NNS resume (5 seasons, 3Wins, 29 top 5’s, 84 top 10’s, 4 poles) was enough to convince Phoenix Racing’s new owner Harry Scott to give him a fighting chance to prove he can compete with NASCAR’s elite drivers.
Veteran crew chief Steve Addington will oversee Allgaier’s progression in his rookie season. Addington’s expertise atop the pit box figures to be an integral component in Allgaier’s continued success in NASCAR. Addington has had the pleasure of working with some of the sport’s best drivers in his career, including both Busch brothers, former NSCS champions Tony Stewart, and Bobby Labonte. However Steve Addington is no stranger to working with rookie drivers, he served as J.J Yeley’s crew chief during his rookie campaign back in 2006.
I commended Harry Scott for aligning youngster Justin Allgaier with quality people ( Addington, Sponsor Brandt) but how far they go in this endeavor largely depends on the man behind the wheel and that’s Allgaier. The jury’s still out on exactly how gifted Allgaier is. Some critics believe Allgaier is nothing more than a middle of the pack guy despite winning an ARCA championship in 2008. Justin also collected 3 NNS victories from 2010-2012, he failed to visit the winner’s circle in 2013. Should we be concerned? No. I would be mildly staggered if Allagier makes a great deal of noise in his first full season of NSCS action. That’s not to say his career won’t have longevity, it’s enormously difficult to compete at this level as a single car operation with a rookie at the wheel. Harry Scott found success on the Nationwide side with Steve Turner. He should find that same success on the cup side if he remains patient. Regardless of how Justin performers this season Phoenix Racing shouldn’t be swift about showing him the door, nurturing this young man’s career over the next few seasons ultimately can lead to expansion for the race team, perhaps producing a diamond in the rough.
Final grade- C+
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