Welcome to Danica's world, Justin Allgaier

October, 15, 2010
10/15/10
7:54
PM ET

CONCORD, N.C. -- Sitting on the pit-road wall at Charlotte Motor Speedway during a perfect sun-splashed Friday afternoon as track officials tried to figure out how a small smoldering fire started in the shrubs off Turn 4, a conversation broke out to the left of me.

It was Danica Patrick and Justin Allgaier.

They talked.

And talked.

And talked.

For almost 20 minutes they talked, arms moving to show steering wheel motions and fingers pointing at different parts of the track that Patrick had just circled during her Nationwide Series qualifying run.

As they talked, television cameramen and still photographers formed a semicircle around them, seemingly documenting every movement.

Patrick may be used to this world, but Allgaier isn't. The 2009 Nationwide Series rookie of the year doesn't get this much attention when he finishes in the top five.

"Yeah, I saw the oddest thing ever at Daytona," Allgaier said after Patrick left. "I watched Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. walk through the Nationwide garage and not a single person stopped him or a camera guy took a picture of him.

"That shows a lot of what she brings to our sport. That's what we need. We need more fans. We need more media attention."

Allgaier needs more attention, too.

He deserves more attention. He ranks fourth in points after Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, but first among non-Sprint Cup regulars. Under normal conditions, Cup teams would be knocking at his door. At worst he would be locked into a Nationwide ride for next season.

But these aren't normal times. Roger Penske, who in June said there was no way Allgaier would get away from his organization, has since told his 24-year-old driver he is free to look around. Penske has told Allgaier the only way he can keep him even in the Nationwide Series is if a sponsor steps up.

None have so far. Allgaier isn't holding his breath.

So Allgaier is talking to Cup and Nationwide teams around the garage, but the same problem exists. No sponsor.

Richard Petty Motorsports would be an ideal place for this budding star. Joe Gibbs Racing has been rumored to show interest. Allgaier admits he's had casual talks with both of them, but not to the point he would say there is strong interest unless he has a sponsor promising to come with him.

"I've made a decision that I want to stay in this sport next year," Allgaier said with a smile. "Other than that it's not really up to me. It's frustrating in some aspects because there's not a whole lot available. Whatever happens at this point is going to happen."

That's what struck me as I watched Patrick sponge off Allgaier. Here's a driver who has yet to show she has the ability to make it in this sport, and yet her future for next season is mapped out with sponsors at JR Motorsports.

It doesn't seem fair, but Allgaier understands. He knows Patrick is important to the future of the sport, so he's willing to do his small part to help.

"I'm probably the one she could learn from the least," Allgaier said. "But at the same time, getting advice from anyone is not a bad thing. I give her credit, she's trying to learn."

Allgaier is trying, too.

Maybe one day some owner will give him a shot. He's earned it.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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