Justin Allgaier set some lofty goals for his first season in the Nationwide Series, and they're within his reach moving into its second half Friday with the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Allgaier leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings and is sixth in the points. He has three top fives and eight top 10s in 17 races this season.
“My first goal was to win Rookie of the Year,” said Allgaier, 23. “I really want to do that. We want to win a race, and we want to finish in the top ten in the points. We've definitely had some races where we've run well, and we've also had some races where I could have driven better and the team could have been better. The more races we get, the more we understand each other. All in all, it's been great so far, but we have a long way to go.”
Penske Racing signed Allgaier last fall. He made his Nationwide debut at Lowe's Motor Speedway, finishing 34th, and won the ARCA championship with a victory in the season finale in Toledo, Ohio, on the same weekend. It was Allgaier's sixth win of the year.
“It was a great weekend,” Allgaier said. “To have that banner (championship) behind you and to have such a great boss as Roger Penske, that's pretty awesome.”
Allgaier leads Brendan Gaughan by six points in the rookie race, which is determined by best finishes among the rookies in 17 races. And he's 102 points ahead of eleventh-place Michael McDowell in the overall points standings. Probably the most difficult of Allgaier's goals is winning a race.
“I'm definitely getting better,” Allgaier said. “We've broken the top-ten barrier pretty much every week. We've got to get everything better, and hopefully we'll win a race this season. I'm learning how to make the car better week to week.”
Allgaier's best shot may be at returning to the seven tracks he has run in the first half of the season.
“I'm building a database from all those tracks we've been to, and hopefully the second time around I can use it,” he said.
Kyle Busch won last year at the 1.5-mile track in Joliet, Ill., leading 101 of 200 laps. Busch has two wins and three second places in the past five races and has built a 172-point lead over second-place Carl Edwards going into the 18th of 35 races.
In addition to Busch and Edwards, Sprint Cup regulars Ryan Newman, David Ragan, David Reutimann, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Jeff Burton, Brian Vickers, Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard are entered at Chicagoland.