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Allgaier joins double-duty crew in Kansas

NASCAR.com

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Justin Allgaier spent his day at Kansas Speedway going from hauler to hauler, team to team, car to car.

Driving the double is still new to the 27-year-old NASCAR Nationwide Series regular, who will make his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start Sunday in the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing. 

Allgaier ran three total practice sessions totaling nearly four hours on Friday, choking down a peanut butter sandwich in between the two Nationwide sessions, and qualified 21st for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 Cup race.

"The challenging part for me is, whether you have a lot of time or not, just being able to mentally prepare for each car," Allgaier said in the No. 51 hauler following a long day. Sprint Cup and Nationwide cars are so different in how they drive, the setups, your crew members. Everything.

"For us, we had a really good (tire test) Thursday and practiced well (Friday) morning in Cup. It was easy to go into a Nationwide car because I wasn't frustrated. And when I jumped into the Nationwide car, we were fast right off the truck. If one goes wrong and another goes wrong, you're like, 'Man, what's the deal.' But on a weekend like this, we unloaded off the truck with both cars really well."

Allgaier's NASCAR career has -- to this point -- consisted of full-time rides in the Nationwide Series since 2009, the past three years coming in the No. 31 for Turner Scott Motorsports. He's currently sixth in the points standings, and he's finished sixth or better in every season in which he's had a full ride. 

He has a new chassis for Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300, and finished seventh and 13th in Saturday's two practices in his familiar No. 31 Brandt Chevy. He has three top-10s in four Nationwide starts at the 1.5-mile facility. 

The Nationwide race, though, isn't at the forefront of Allgaier's mind. He's thinking big, thanks to an unexpected Sprint Cup date after Harry Scott Jr., co-owner of Turner Scott Motorsports, purchased Phoenix Racing from James Finch in late August.

"Obviously, the goal (for 2014) is to try and put something together to run the 51 car full-time," Allgaier said. "We still need a little bit of sponsorship and some of the pieces of the puzzle to fall in the right spot, but I would say that's the main focus. Not that if I ran the Nationwide car again that it would be settling. The stuff we've learned this year and my relationship with (crew chief) Scott Zipadelli, if that was what I ended up doing, we could go and be a threat for the championship next year.

"But being 27 and getting the opportunity to do this, it makes me want to put my focus on trying to get to the Cup side."

Allgaier joins a heady list of drivers competing in both races at Kansas. Among the drivers performing double duty this weekend are Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Brad Keselowski. Two of those four drivers are in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship hunt. One is the defending series champion. 

And while those guys have more Cup experience and rides on multi-car teams, Allgaier has a quiet confidence about his immediate future. He sounds like a guy who's put in the hours at his current job and is ready for a promotion.

"I don't necessarily view this as an audition (for a Cup ride)," Allgaier said. "If something's going to happen, it's going to happen. You know, I don't think that I could do anything that's going to be so great or so bad that would hinder a future opportunity. At the same time, the racer in me says, 'I want to run wheel-to-wheel with Jimmie Johnson and be battling for the lead 400 miles into this race.' 

"The likelihood of it is not great, but the racer in me tells me that's where I need to be at."

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