Newton, Iowa — Justin Allgaier won all three stages and the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Sunday at Iowa Speedway for his second victory of the season.
Racing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in JR Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro, Allgaier led 182 of 250 laps and survived an unlucky late caution by winning the restart.
Allgaier also won last month at Dover. He has seven career victories — but few of those runs were as dominant as the one Allgaier pulled off in the searing heat on Iowa’s short track.
“We had a great car,” Allgaier said. “Incredible … how could you not enjoy this?”
Despite Allgaier’s dominance, Christopher Bell made him work to keep the lead throughout the final stage — at times closing to within a tenth of a second of taking the lead — before finishing second.
“We were really close,” Bell said. “We could never pass (Allgaier)…I could never get outside of him, I could never get inside of him.”
Daniel Hemric was third, followed by Cole Custer and Brandon Jones, and Riley Herbst was sixth in his series debut.
Points leader Elliott Sadler lost a tire at the end of stage one. He finished 28th and saw his lead dwindle to just four points.
Allgaier’s Dover win came with an asterisk, as a post-race penalty cost him his playoff points and the virtual guarantee of a postseason spot that comes with a victory.
But Allgaier made sure he’ll have a say in the championship hunt, piloting the fastest car in the field through all three stages.
Austin Cindric, driving the No. 22 Team Penske car that Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney already won in this season, won his first career pole earlier Sunday. Cindric led the first 58 laps after leading just six in his career prior to the race, but Allgaier snuck past him with two laps left.
Cindric never threatened after that, finishing 11th.
Allgaier’s dominance continued in stage two, which he took by a full second over Bell. Allgaier then kept the lead for the final stage, but Bell had managed to get side-by-side with Bell on a long green-flag run.
Pit strategy looked like it might decide the race before had Chad Finchum hit the wall with 51 laps to go. But Allgaier again beat Bell by a second on the ensuing stop.
“I felt like we were better than the (No.) 7 (car) all day. Just couldn’t pass him,” Bell said. “It’s pretty hard to pass a car that’s really good like that.”
The final caution came when Brandon Hightower clipped the wall with 18 laps to go. But since everyone had already had enough fuel and was on their last set of tires, Allgaier simply jumped back out in front and cruised to a win – one that clinched his second consecutive multi-victory season.
Allgaier also won twice last year.
Tony Schumacher raced to his first Top Fuel victory of the season in the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol, Tennessee.
Schumacher had a 3.946-second run at 313.58 mph to edge Mike Salinas in the final round, the 150th final of Schumacher’s career. He has six career victories at Bristol and 84 overall.
“We have had little things bite us this season, but we knew we had to overcome adversity and we knew we had a great car that was capable of winning,” Schumacher said. “I’m proud of my team for sticking to our plan, and I know our team is going to be a factor for the rest of the season.”
Ron Capps won the Funny Car event for the second straight year, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. topped the Pro Stock field.
Capps won for the first time this season and 59th overall, edging Bob Tasca III with a 4.234 at 296.37 in a Chevrolet Camaro SS. Capps also gave Don Schumacher Racing its 300th nitro victory.
“This is a great facility, and when you roll into this place you get a special feeling,” Capps said. “Getting to the Winner’s Circle at a track like this is even more special, because you feel like you really had to earn it, and this weekend I am proud of what my team accomplished in some tough conditions.”
Coughlin beat Greg Anderson with a 6.709 at 205.10 for his second victory of the season and 60th overall.
“It’s a testament to our team,” Coughlin said. “We showed our way right to the checkers in Chicago and then came back here in Bristol with another win. “It felt fantastic from behind the wheel.”