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November 17, 2016

Justin Allgaier

Q. You made it to the final four. What are your expectations?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: You know, I think for me expectations are off. We've made it to the final round. We've made it to the final four. That was the ultimate goal when we started out the season.
You come into this race and say, Okay, this is the time when you put all you're chips in, you do all the things that have obviously gotten you to this point in the season.
I feel like I should probably be more nervous or have more things going on in my mind. But for me it's a one‑race shootout. You control the things that you can control, that are in your power. From there, whatever happens is out of our control. As long as we go out there and give it 100%.
When I walk out of Homestead, no matter what position, if I've given it 100%, the results are going to be good.

Q. Do you think you have to win this race to win the title?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: For me, I've kind of said all along I think a top three is what it's going to be.
That being said, third place is still giving yourself two spots. I know there's three other competitors sitting beside me here that they feel like they need to go for that win.
But I really think we have a couple of Cup guys, I think we've got some XFINITY Series drivers that have risen to the challenge, especially here of late.
It would not surprise me to have somebody else other than one of the four of us win the race. But at the same time I still think it's going to take a top three.

Q. If you win the championship without winning the race, you will go winless this season. Would you look at this season maybe as a little less of a success?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: For me, yeah, obviously a win would be a great thing. I would love to see it. But if you take the four of us and add us all together, there's really not that many wins between the four of us, even if we don't have a win.
I think the format obviously rewards wins. But the way the XFINITY Series has kind of worked for the last few years, obviously has been this year...
Look, a championship is a championship. If we get that route without a win, I'll still be extremely happy and take that championship trophy to the house. I would love to have a win. But there is still one chance to win a race. Obviously we got to get through Homestead. That would be pretty cool to be able to win the race and win the championship.

Q. How different of a driver are you now than 2013?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: A lot different driver. The Cup experience for me has been absolutely amazing. Obviously it wasn't the go that any of us would have liked to have had. There were some major struggles and roadblocks that I don't think anybody that was involved kind of really could see coming.
For me, it was a really down part of my career. Even though I had a good time with it, I met a lot of great people, had great people surrounding me, I struggled mentally, physically. I really struggled getting through that.
But it made me a lot stronger person and a lot stronger racecar driver. I feel like right now I'm in the best place that I've been as far as just being happy and going to the racetrack and feeling competitive. So I think all of that has really played into putting me in this position.
I don't think in 2013, had we had the same format, that we could have raced our way into the Chase just based on the rounds that we had leading up to here at Homestead. I don't think we would have raced our way in without the experiences, kind of the trials I've gone through to this point.

Q. You raced a couple years against Tony. His career comes to an end Sunday. Will you watch the race Sunday, take it in? How important is it to realize what type of guy we've had the pleasure of watching for so long?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I feel lucky I got to watch Tony long before he ever made it to NASCAR, growing up in the open‑wheel ranks, slinging some dirt around, going to some of my favorite places, Raceway Park in Indianapolis. I remember watching the guy just be lights out when it came to racing there.
I think there's so many memories I have of where Tony's been and how he's gotten to the point where he's at now. I've been a huge fan of his for a number of years, not only for what he's accomplished, but just getting to know Tony outside the racecar and who he is.
It's a surreal moment for me to watch him step out, somebody that I've respected a lot and grown up watching. To say, This is my last one, this is my final Sprint Cup Series race now, granted he's said he's going to do races outside of NASCAR, but to watch him step outside that car, that's his final one, it's a surreal moment for me.
Yeah, I'll be watching. I think we're all watching a piece of history kind of move on. I'm sure there's another piece that's going to start on Sunday that's going to carry on into the future that's going to be the next portion that maybe my daughter or some other young racer out there is going to latch onto.
But it is going to be an interesting moment seeing him hang that helmet up for the final time after Homestead.

Q. What did you say to your buddy Blake Koch after you beat him?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: That was probably one of the biggest struggles of mine this year, was to race a great friend of mine in Blake, to know kind of what was at stake for both of us. There were points throughout the course of the race, I knew we were having a really good day. Obviously I wanted to keep it that way. But there were points throughout the race where I'm looking at the Jumbotron on the infield, looking at the points. I could see he was fourth, bouncing back and forth, really close to being inside that top four in points. That would have been the best‑case scenario for me, is to have the two of us in, then race it out at Homestead.
Blake was very gracious in defeat. He texted me on Sunday and said, Hey, man, I'm really proud of you. If you need anything on Saturday or this weekend, let us know.
Their family has been a great friend of our family. So Blake's a great competitor. I'm really pumped for him and that whole team. They've really risen to the occasion this year of starting up a team, first year out coming and almost making that final four, still having a great opportunity of getting top five in points.
Really proud of Blake. We're going to have a lot of fun racing at Homestead. I wish we could have battled it out for a championship.

Q. You have a teammate in the final four. Does the situation with Elliott change for this race or is it business as usual?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: You know, it's funny. For us, I mean, Elliott and I have worked great together this year. For not really working together before we hit this point in time, I feel like we've meshed really well together.
I'm glad to have a teammate in. I think that actually helps, oddly enough, from my end. You know that they're dealing with the same anxieties and struggles, pressures that you are. I think from the other standpoint, I know Elliott. I know his personality. I know his driving style. I know kind of the things that he has going on.
When you get in that moment, the last couple laps going for a championship, you can throw all that out the window.
I think it's good to have a teammate in the final four. I'm more so proud, too, of the fact of Junior Motorsports, to see both competitors that ran full‑time both get a Chase berth into the final round. I think that says a lot about the guy he is at Junior Motorsports, everybody that touches these racecars on a weekly basis.
I'm not disappointed that he's in at all. I do want to beat him, there's no question. But I think the two of us have our work cut out for us. We're going to have to go out there, be 100%, do our best to beat the JGR cars. If we could come down to a 1‑2, I would be perfectly happy with that.

Q. Do you treat Elliott different than the other Chase drivers?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: For me, I've never been the type that crashes somebody on purpose or does anything kind of outside the box, I guess, if you will. So, no, I don't think it changes my personality at all or my outlook on it.
But at the same time I think the moment has to be the moment. I can sit here and tell you all day long I'd wreck my mom to win the race, but until you're in that moment, you don't really know what you're going to do.
I think from my end, you treat it as any other race. You go out there, give 100%. If I can beat him fair and square, go out there, have a good day, we're going to do everything we can to make that happen.

Q. You have a teammate in this championship race. The JGR guys are teammates as well. Do you have an edge or experience?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: For me, I mean, yeah, there's maybe a small, minute amount of having that experience, especially in the Chase format.
Daniel and Erik are such great competitors. They're insanely talented racecar drivers. Everybody at JGR has done a great job not only on the XFINITY side but on the Truck side. They both came from the KBM world, understanding what Kyle knows, learning from Kyle.
I don't know that the years have really given us any more experience. Who's to say with the resources and things they've gone through that they could potentially have more experience than what I do.
I think we got four really talented racecar drivers that made the final round. I think you've got four great teams in this final round. I'm excited to see how it plays out.
You look at the Sprint Cup Series. I don't know that I've seen a Chase race at Homestead that's disappointed yet, or a Chase, period, that's disappointed.
I know it's been good up to this point. I can only imagine what Homestead will be on Saturday.

Q. What would it mean to you personally to bring the title to Dale Jr.?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: They were fortunate enough to win the championship a few years ago with Chase. That met a lot to Dale, Kelley. But for Dale to have the year he's had, to be out, to be able to watch and kind of be involved from a different perspective on a regular basis, I think it would be cool.
Dale gave me a great opportunity. Dale and Kelley both. Everybody there gave me a great opportunity to come here. When we started out the season, we said, This is an opportunity to come here and to go for a championship. We've delivered on all levels of what we wanted to accomplish.
So, yeah, I mean, it would mean a lot to me, but I know it would also mean a lot to Dale and Kelley to win a championship. It would be fun to be able to bring that back.

Q. How has he treated the team differently since he's been out of the car?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I think the biggest thing for Dale is obviously being able to be around more. For not being in the car, he's still insanely busy. Dale baffles me, his schedule, how much he's able to accomplish on a regular basis.
It has let him kind of work more behind the scenes. Dale is super involved in all that he does. He's still really involved in the 88 Sprint Cup Series team, trying to help out all of the teammates over at Hendrick Motorsports.
I know for him he's dying to get back in a racecar. He wants to be in as much as all the fans and everybody from the outside wants him to be in.
I think once he gets healthy here, gets clearance to go back and race again, I think he'll be glad to get back in behind the wheel instead of being behind a desk.

Q. Can you take any advantage from the fact that Jimmie is in the Cup Chase?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: I think from a Hendrick Motorsports side of things, obviously Chevrolet and everybody, Hendrick Motorsports has done a great job this year. Watching Jimmie work and seeing those guys in this Chase, from the start of it till now, I mean, there was a lot of the media, a lot of even other teams that had counted Jimmie out, really counted Hendrick Motorsports out of this Chase. I think Jimmie has proved everybody wrong.
I don't know that it will help us any. But I'm very proud of Jimmie and what he's accomplished. I'll be watching on Sunday. I'll be watching for Tony's last race, but I'm also really excited about the opportunity that Jimmie has to hit that seventh number. From all of us, we're cheering him on, we're rooting for him. There's a lot of people that from behind the scene want to see him win that seventh championship.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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