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Justin Allgaier heads to Dover with more on his mind than just racing

Steve Letarte and Dan Beaver break down the field for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover and discuss a few drivers worth betting on.

The baby watch continues for NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Justin Allgaier.

Back on New Year’s Day, his wife, Ashley, announced that they were expecting a second child to arrive in May and join 7-year-old daughter Harper.

It’s midway through May. Now, it’s a matter of when the “tiniest gator” - a nod to Justin’s longtime nickname, Little Gator - will enter the world.

In a Thursday teleconference, he revealed that he and Ashley had “a little bit of a nervous scare” and thought the baby was coming early this week. That turned out not to be the case.

As the Xfinity Series prepares to race Saturday at Dover International Speedway, Allgaier says he does have “options” for backup drivers in case he must leave his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

But he’s still having to hope a bit.

“We’ve been pretty lucky in the fact that we’ve kept relationships with some drivers for backups from COVID times and obviously, our Hendrick Motorsports teammates - they won’t be at the race track yet, but depending on what happens, I think it’s going to be really interesting,” he said.

“But on the flip side of that, realistically, we’ll know on Saturday long before the start of the race if something were to happen. And if something does start in that process that she’s gonna have to go to the hospital, there’s not a whole lot of time that I’m gonna get heading back even if I could before the end of the race.

“We’ll see what happens. We definitely tried to put some plans in place to see what the options are, but at this point, I think it’s go as normal and hope that things work out in our favor.”

Allgaier’s much more certain about his chances at the Monster Mile.

Coming off his second win of the season last week at Darlington Raceway, he comes to a track that’s historically been among his strongest.

He’s a two-time Dover winner. He split wins there last August with Chase Briscoe in an Xfinity doubleheader. Entering Saturday, Allgaier has rattled off seven consecutive top-10 finishes at Dover, which is an Xfinity record at the track.

Concrete tracks like Dover have suited Allgaier over the years. At Dover and the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway, he’s recorded nine Xfinity top-five finishes apiece - tied for the most he’s had at a single track.

For his part, Allgaier says he’s not sure why he’s excelled on this particular surface. But he does know that his team at JR Motorsports has played a large role.

“To have the success that we’ve had at Dover, number one, is a testament to our team,” he said. “Our guys have done a fantastic job in preparing race cars that are capable of going there and winning.

“I think when you have those cars, you have to make the most of those opportunities. For us, this weekend is no different. We’re gonna take the best car we can possibly bring, make the adjustments we feel like we need for a place like Dover to be competitive and be successful, and hopefully, we make those right decisions.”

A right decision becomes even more important when battling teammates for a win - and, this week, a $100,000 Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonus.

JRM drivers Allgaier, Josh Berry and Noah Gragson are up for the prize at Dover, along with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones.

Allgaier and Berry finished 1-2 at Darlington, while Gragson finished fourth, got disqualified, and then had the penalty rescinded to give him back last week’s bonus.

Allgaier acknowledged the difficulties of racing against teammates on Thursday. He referenced conversations that he and Gragson had on the subject late last year.

For Allgaier and everyone in the JRM driver stable, including Michael Annett, there’s a balance to keep between winning for themselves and not putting a teammate in a bad spot so that the organization comes out strong as a whole.

But Allgaier says the JRM stable is cohesive and tight-knit. And after having all four JRM drivers finish inside the top seven last week, he believes they’re capable of even better on Saturday.

“From my standpoint ... I really firmly believe we can finish 1-2-3-4 as an organization,” he said. “I think that would be really awesome.”