HAMPTON, Ga. (March 20, 2021) – Hounded by Martin Truex Jr. for a tense final 13 laps, Justin Allgaier held off the veteran to win the EchoPark 250 on Saturday evening at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Allgaier won for the first time this season and the first time at AMS. His No. 7 EchoPark team struggled mightily in the first four races of the 2021, but finished in the top 10 last week and broke through for the checkered flag Saturday.
“We have had a rough go at it,” Allgaier said. “Today was more about digging deep and persevering. I knew Martin was going to be coming at the end of the race there.
“It’s really special. I’m just proud of the guys. We had great pit stops all day and made great adjustments all day. At the end, we put ourselves in the right spot.”
Truex charged to the lead after starting 18th. Truex, who last competed in the Xfinity series in 2010, overtook the top spot on Lap 7. He held it until a penalty on Lap 114 of 163.
Truex entered pit road too fast when the race was under caution and it sent him to the back of the field for the restart. Truex carved through the field, needing just three laps on green to get into the top 10.
The effort took a toll on the tires as Truex’s charge stalled once he got into the top 5.
“We just kind of lost the handle there,” Truex said. “I was abusing my tires and not going anywhere.”
A caution on Lap 131 when Josh Berry slid into the infield grass was a boon for Truex, who was able to get new tires for the final push.
Truex passed Noah Gragson to move into third place and overtook Harrison Burton with 13 laps remaining. Allgaier held on though, winning by 1.449 seconds. Burton was third, 3.371 off the lead.
“Allgaier had a really good car at the end,” Truex said.
AJ Allmendinger was fifth. Riley Herbst, Michael Annett, Justin Haley, Daniel Memric and Ryan Seig rounded out the top 10.
“We fought hard,” Allmendinger. “We got a lap down and fought all day to get back. It wasn’t a win, but it sure felt like one.”
A multi-car wreck coming out of Turn 2 on the last lap of Stage 1 caused damage to a number of cars, but only knocked Brett Moffitt out of the race. Gragson was involved as well and managed to climb back into the race for a fourth-place finish.
Georgian Mason Massey also lost it out of Turn 2 on Lap 112 and brought out a caution which allowed a lot of drivers to get new tires with 50 laps to go.
Coming off that restart, two drivers having good days traded paint. Jeb Burton, who had finished in the top 10 in every race this season, and Jeremy Clements collided in Lap 112. Clements finished 12th, but Jeb Burton was 25th.