WHERE DID YOU PICK UP YOUR WORK ETHIC?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “I get a lot of my work ethic from my parents. My dad has been a hero of mine and someone I’ve looked up to for as long as I can remember. He’s the main reason why I’m able to be up here and do what I’m doing today. Over the years, you learn and you gain things but you also lose things. That’s what really ultimately puts you in the position you in.”
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST SET OF WHEELS?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “Absolutely. I had a little electric IndyCar that my dad bought. I used to race it around the yard and down a hill in the back of our house. You never forget things like that. I was probably 3-4 when we got that. That’s what really got me wanting to get in a race car.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS POSSIBLE WITH THIS TEAM FROM WHAT YOU’VE SEEN SO FAR:
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “I think the sky is the limit for this team. Harry Scott and everyone at HScott Motorsports has done a great job. Last year was kind of a building year. Harry taking over the team right before the Chase, me getting to make my debut and everything. The changes they have made over the offseason and the people they have brought in, I think we are heading in the right direction and we have a lot of room for growth. I feel like we can build a team that is capable of going out and not only running well but winning races.”
YOU PICKED A TOUGH YEAR TO FIGHT FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “I’m glad to see that we can have eight rookies go for that title. Whoever wins it, you’re going to feel that much better about it whenever it’s over. And if you don’t win, knowing that we’ve got some of the best and most talented race car drivers in the world who are coming up, that is super encouraging and I love the direction that shows about our sport and where it is headed.”
DO YOU KNOW MUCH ABOUT STEVE (ADDINGTON, COMPETITION DIRECTOR AND CREW CHIEF), AND HAVE YOU TALKED MUCH DURING THE LAST FEW YEARS?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “I got very lucky when Jimmy Elledge was my crew chief, Steve and Jimmy were good friends. I actually got to hang out with Steve quite a bit off the race track as two normal people. So to have him know as a crew chief, to know his work ethic and see how he operates has been awesome. He’s extremely knowledgeable and one of those guys that I’m glad to have as part of the team. I think we will work really well together and I’m excited about the experience and leadership he brings.”
HOW DO YOU WORK TO BALANCE BETWEEN WORRYING ABOUT OVERDRIVING AND SHOWING YOU CAN DO IT?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “The biggest thing for me is managing expectations. I know that in the first five races, we’re probably not going to win a race unless something major happens. But at the same time if I’m not out there and not finishing races, every lap that I’m not on the track is one lap less of experience that I can gain. For me, it’s more important to get in the full distance and run as many laps as I can versus putting myself in that bad position of trying too hard to pick up a position or two. I’m not saying that I don’t want to win races and not saying that I’m not going to go for the win if the opportunity presents itself. But definitely I’m trying to manage where I’m at and getting the most experience possible.”
HAVE YOU EVER FOLLOWED ANY OTHER TYPE OF RACING:
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “Absolutely. I’m a huge Formula One fan. I watch IndyCar. I watch the TUDOR Series – the new GRAND-AM. I definitely enjoy all forms of motorsports. Whatever it is, I have a great respect for other races and I like seeing what they do and how they do it. Lately it’s been more motocross and supercross. I love the atmosphere of that, and they do a great job with the fans.”
ANY DRIVERS – F1 OR OTHERWISE – WHO MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET STRIAGHT INTO THE CUP SERIES AND DO OK?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “I think it’s been proven that to come in and do this is a huge challenge. But there are so many talented drivers in this country and around the world. It wouldn’t surprise that if a guy from another discipline came over and - if they took the time and put in the effort - could be successful. But I don’t think it’s a sport you can just jump in and be successful at it.”
ARE THERE ANY CUP DRIVERS YOU CAN THINK OF THROUGHOUT TIME OR NOW THAT COULD MAKE THE SWITCH TO F1?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “I think there are plenty of guys that could do it. Again, it would take time or discipline. Guys like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch… these guys that are talented and great here would do fine over there. It’s just a matter of how you grew up and what your wants and passions are. If you don’t have the passion for it and it’s not where you want to be, it will never work. It would have to be something who would want to do it.”
IT WILL BE A TOUGH ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BATTLE:
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “Definitely there are favorites for the Rookie of the Year battle. Obviously whether it’s Austin (Dillon) or Kyle (Larson) or whoever it is, I think that helps me in a lot of ways. We have eight guys going for Rookie of the Year and they’ve pinned it on two. That gives us that they didn’t pin it on maybe not as much pressure or not as much hype. We can go out and work on a day-to-day basis. If we do well and win it, then it’s like David and Goliath. I think it puts some drive and hunger into me to be successful and beat those guys.”
WHAT WOULD A SUCCESSFUL DAYTONA 500 MEAN TO YOU?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “Daytona no matter how you look at it… you get out of the box strong and you get that first race going, it’s huge. It seems like the first five races determine the rest of your season. So you have to get out of the box strong and get those first five in. Daytona is the marque of all those so you have to get it kicked off well.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP THE COMRADERIE OR LACK OF COMRADERIE BETWEEN THE EIGHT ROOKIES THAT ARE VYING FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “What’s cool is that of the rookies that are running this year, we’ve all raced together for a number of years. We’ve grown up together and raced together. I think that’s good. We all know each other and how each other races. We have a good understanding of each other. That will help for sure when we get into this battle and we start racing each other.”
YOU’VE BEEN ACCUSTOMED TO POINTS RACING ON A WEEK-TO-WEEK BASIS IN NATIONWIDE. DOES YOUR APPROACH CHANGE IN SPRINT CUP WITH THE NEW CHAMPIONSHIP PROCEDURE?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “I’ve always enjoyed the races where you say we’re going to stay out. We’re going to try to win on fuel mileage or something else. I’ve always enjoyed those. For me, that’s not going to change. If Steve is willing to try something, I’ll go with it. I know that being an independent team, it will be hard to beat the major organizations that are out there. We are going to have to try anything we can. At the same time, the other part is that we need to stay competitive and stay consistent. If we can stay consistent over the first 15 races, that puts us in a position where we can say maybe we can try something kind of crazy.”
I THINK BACK TO THE SOUTHERN 500 A FEW YEARS AGO WHERE REGAN SMITH AND FURNITURE ROW STAYED OUT LATE AND WON THE RACE. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO TRY? AT WHAT LEVEL DO YOU TO HAVE TO BE TO TRY IT?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “I think it’s any level. We’ve seen fuel mileage races and strategy races that go or don’t go the way you thought they would. If we feel like we’re fast enough and competitive enough to try it, then why not? If you’re two laps down, it doesn’t make that much difference. But if you’re up there and battling, you might as well at least try it once. If it doesn’t work out, that’s kind of the tough part of our sport. But you have to go for it. The wins in this new format are so important. If you can sneak your way into a win and put yourself into the Chase – especially for an independent team, - that would be huge. So it’s definitely worth trying.”
WHOEVER WINS THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR IS DEFINITELY GOING TO HAVE TO EARN IT:
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: “That’s the best part for me. It’s such an odd points structure for Rookie of the Year and the way they calculate it, honestly with eight guys this year it could really throw some curves to everybody. One or two bad finishes can change the outcome of this battle. I’m excited. It will be a great rookie class. I’m pumped for the seven other guys and myself that are going to be a part of it. That’s the best part. We don’t know where everyone is going to stack up. Let’s get out there, get the races in and see where we go from there.”