Allgaier the leading candidate to replace Smith at JR Motorsports next year

Justin Allgaier is the leading candidate to replace Regan Smith in an Xfinity Series ride at JR Motorsports in 2016, has learned.

Allgaier currently drives the No. 51 Brandt Chevrolet for HScott Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series. However, the team announced last month Clint Bowyer will take over the ride for 2016.

Allgaier would not confirm he is the top prospect for the JRM job, but told he is still working on his program for next year.

Smith tweeted on Saturday night he was not returning to the No. 7 Chevy at JRM in 2016.

The 32-year-old Cato, N.Y., native is currently third in the Xfinity Series standings, 33 points behind leader Chris Buescher with three races remaining in the season.

Since joining JRM for the season finale in 2012, Smith has won six races and posted 27 top fives and 69 top-10 finishes in 97 of his 199 career NXS starts. Smith competed in the Sprint Cup Series for five seasons and posted his only win at Darlington in 2011 with Furniture Row Racing.

After winning the 2008 ARCA title, Allgaier had a limited run with Mike Mittler in the Camping World Truck Series before joining Team Penske’s Xfinity Series program. As the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Dodge, Allgaier finished sixth in points his rookie season and fourth the following year after winning at Bristol.

He paired up with current sponsor Brandt at Turner Motorsports in 2011 and won at Chicagoland Speedway before finishing a career-high third in the NXS standings. Allgaier won the 2012 Montreal road-course race before finishing sixth in points. In 2013, his final year with Turner Scott Motorsports, the Riverton, Ill., racer was fifth in the standings.

Allgaier, 29, made his Cup debut and ran the last four races of 2013 as Harry Scott made the transition from Phoenix Racing to HScott Motorsports with the No. 51 Chevy. In 70 Cup starts, Allgaier’s sole top 10 came at Bristol Motor Speedway in April.

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