Why Justin Allgaier Is NASCAR's Hottest Free Agent

Jeff KerrContributor ISeptember 27, 2010

MONTREAL - AUGUST 28: Justin Allgaier, driver of the #12 Verizon Wireless Dodge, climbs into his car in the garage area during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on August 28, 2010 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Last week, Penske Racing president Tim Cindric announced that prospect Justin Allgaier was free to explore other options for the 2011 NASCAR season.

With this decision, Penske Racing is giving up on their future to focus on their present team of Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski.

One of NASCAR’s top young drivers, Allgaier has the potential to become the next superstar in Sprint Cup given a few years time.

Justin showed tremendous improvement in the Nationwide Series the last two seasons. He was the 2009 Nationwide Rookie of the Year with three Top Five and six Top 10 finishes.  This season, he won his first Nationwide Series race at Bristol and is currently fourth in the championship standings.

Oh, and he is only 24 years old.

Allgaier’s youth and potential will intrigue teams into signing him for 2011 and the foreseeable future.  He is in a win-win situation for himself and the team that decides to sign him. Here are three reasons why:

1. Allgaier could sign with a top Sprint Cup team in the hopes of getting a full-time ride in 2012. He can use next season to further develop in the Nationwide Series and compete for the championship, gaining valuable experience for himself while helping his team make money on their Nationwide Series operation.  By 2012, Allgaier will be that team’s first choice to replace a struggling driver.

Teams that would be a good fit: Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing

2. Allgaier can fulfill his dream of racing in Sprint Cup by 2011 by signing with a low-budget team that is looking to fill its roster.  He can learn how to drive the Sprint Cup car and gain valuable seat time against the best stock car drivers in the world.  The team will easily acquire a sponsor for the entire season with Allgaier, who will compete for Top 10 finishes, which gives a team more money to improve their cars.  If Allgaier has a strong rookie season, he will be able to sign with a top team in the future.

Teams that would be a good fit: Richard Petty Motorsports, Red Bull Racing, and Wood Brothers Racing

3. Penske Racing allowed Sam Hornish Jr. to look at other rides for 2011 due to lack of sponsorship.  Allgaier could stick with the organization that initially signed him in hopes of taking Hornish’s ride next year.  Penske could pick up a few sponsors for their third car so Allgaier can race every week.  If that fails, Allgaier could race part time in Cup and full time in Nationwide.  Roger Penske will be able to keep his dream lineup of Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Justin Allgaier for the next few seasons.