On the very last lap of the STP 300 Nationwide Race at Chicagoland Speedway Justin Allgaier grinned to himself as he saw race leader Carl Edwards start weaving his car from side to side. Clearly he was out of fuel and so the race was there for Allgaier to win. As he pulled past the stricken no. 60 Ford Allgaier pulled all of thirty yards ahead when his engine spluttered and he too had run dry. The two cars coasted towards the finish line and took the checkered flag at about fifty miles per hour whilst Trevor Bayne was looming up behind them.
“We were on power another 100 feet, and that was the difference,” Allgaier said.
It was a night for home state winners with Clint Bowyer having earlier won the Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas. Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, about 160 miles from Joliet where the Speedway is situated.
The win made Allgaier just the second point scoring driver to win a Nationwide Series race this season with twelve of the fourteen races so far having been won by Sprint Cup drivers. It made no difference to his standing in the points table, however. He remains in fourth place although now just five points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after the latter hit the wall dropping him to fourteenth place, a lap down, at the finish.
Bayne was delighted with his third place finish on his return from the mystery illness which had doctors baffled and kept him from racing for six weeks. Starting in 31st place he took just over a quarter of the race to get himself into a position to challenge the top five and then steadily made progress which allowed him to come so close to taking his first win in this series. Bayne too was trying to be conservative with fuel but discovered too late that he was more restrained than he needed to be.
“Man, I should have started going six laps earlier,” Bayne said. “You can always say ‘Shoulda.’ “
Another happy driver on the night was Danica Patrick making one of her occasional returns to NASCAR racing before she comes back for a succession of races at season’s end. In a week which started with Patrick finishing tenth in the Indianapolis 500 race she finished in exactly that position in her GoDaddy Chevrolet, her second top-ten finish in NASCAR this season.
Less happy was Elliott Sadler who had been battling fiercely with Carl Edwards for the lead over the last quarter of the race and had led twenty-nine laps. With just eight laps remaining the title leader suffered a cut tyre which necessitated a trip to pit lane and left him to finish in eleventh place a lap down. It also enabled sixth place finisher, Reed Sorenson to go two points clear of him in the title race.
The Nationwide Series has a two week break before they return at Michigan International Speedway on June 18th.