‘Little Gator’ makes big jump: Allgaier joining Sprint Cup ranks

Justin Allgaier (left) chats with Jeff Gordon at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 13, 2013.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Phoenix Racing announced Tuesday that Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 51 BRANDT-sponsored Chevrolet during the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Allgaier, who finished fifth in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series standings, will be a candidate for the Sprint Cup Series’ Rookie of the Year Award.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I intend to make the most of it," Allgaier said. "I am very grateful to (team owner) Harry Scott and BRANDT for having faith in me to compete against the best drivers in the world."

Allgaier has spent the past five seasons in the Nationwide Series, first with Penske Racing and the past three years with Turner Scott Motorsports. Over that stretch, the Riverton, Ill., native has three wins, a best points finish of third and a worst points finish of sixth.

"Justin has worked extremely hard to get to this level and he is ready to take the next step," Scott said. "Working with competition director and crew chief Steve Addington, I think the No. 51 can turn some heads this year."

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BRANDT, which has sponsored Allgaier the past three seasons in the Nationwide Series, will be the primary sponsor on the driver’s No. 51 car for 21 of 36 points races. The agriculture retailer and manufacturer of agricultural specialty products sponsored the No. 51 in each of Allgaier’s four starts with Phoenix Racing last season.

"The entire BRANDT team is excited about moving to the next level," said Rick Brandt, company president and CEO. "We looked long and hard at this opportunity and ultimately we decided that we needed the broader footprint that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series affords us to drive our business forward. This is about taking our brand to the millions of fans who watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series."

"I could not be more proud to represent BRANDT, a leading company that’s headquartered about 13 miles from where I grew up, as we make the leap to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," he said.

Allgaier, 27, joins 2000 Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte as a teammate at the Spartanburg, S.C-based organization. Labonte will drive the No. 52 car for several races in 2014, including the season-opening Daytona 500.

Bobby Labonte is competing on a part-time basis for Phoenix Racing this season.