NEWTON, Iowa (August 1, 2009) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished 15th in Saturday afternoon’s 250-lap event at Iowa Speedway..
Allgaier started on the front row after an impressive qualifying effort that tied the pole lap speed, but he was relegated to the second starting spot due to owner points. The 23-year-old series rookie leader was no stranger to Iowa Speedway, having raced there in previous years running the ARCA/REMAX series. Both Allgaier and the team were anxious to get underway Saturday after having one of the best cars during the weekend practice and qualifying sessions leading up to the race. The No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge made quick work of the competition, taking the lead on lap eight.
When the caution flag was displayed on lap 10, Allgaier radioed his crew chief Chad Walter to explain that the car was handling tight in the center of the corners and loose off of the turns. Walter confidently reassured his driver that he had one of the best cars on the track and to remain patient. Allgaier held the lead of the race until he brought the car down pit road on lap 41 to change two right side tires and add fuel. The Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger would take the green flag restart on lap 44 riding in the runner up spot to the No. 88 machine of eventual race winner Brad Keselowski.
The No. 12 occupied the second position for the next 31 laps until the car developed a loose-handling condition. Allgaier then brought his machine down pit road as the crew changed four tires and took on racing fuel. The team also made a small air pressure adjustment to the right side tires, hoping to tighten up the Verizon Wireless Dodge for the next green flag stint. Allgaier restarted the race in the eighth position and he quickly passed three competitors to secure fifth place. Early in the run, the car was extremely loose but once again Allgaier was encouraged to remain patient and let the car come to him by both Walter and veteran spotter Dave Kenny.
The Verizon Wireless Dodge motored all the way up to the second position on lap 120 and was posting times that were consistent with the leader.
The yellow flag was presented to the field on lap 144, and Allgaier once again brought the car down pit road for four Goodyear Eagle tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment targeted to improve a minor tight condition Allgaier experienced while running the top groove of the track.
Allgaier restarted the race in the second spot on lap 149. Almost as soon as the green flag waived, the car became extremely loose. The condition hampered the No. 12’s ability to run exactly where Allgaier needed the car to be, and the rookie racer dropped a few positions to fourth place where he continued to run until another caution on lap 212.
After some discussion with Walter, the decision was made to bring the Verizon Wireless Dodge to pit lane for service. The crew made an air pressure adjustment, changed two right-side tires and topped off with fuel. Allgaier took the green flag restart in eighth place on lap 219.
On lap 234, Allgaier was involved in an incident coming out of turn 2. As a result of the contact, the No. 12 received heavy right-side damage and two flat tires on the right side, which forced Allgaier to pit road for repairs. The crew worked quickly under the caution flag to repair the car and not lose a lap. Allgaier was able to return to the racing surface on the lead lap in the 17th spot. He battled a tattered race car and tough competition for the remaining laps to bring his machine home in the 15th position.
“I’m really disappointed with the finish after a weekend of hard work. It really doesn’t show the effort or how good of a car we had,” commented Allgaier after the 250-lap event. “After practice and qualifying we were extremely excited about our chances of getting the Verizon Wireless Dodge into Victory Lane. It’s still unclear to us if it was the (changing) track temperature or pre-race adjustments that hurt us the most, but we spent the majority of the race trying to tighten the car up in the corners. On the brighter side, we picked up another spot in the driver points and we feel that we took valuable information from the practice sessions here for future races.”
Saturday afternoon’s finish moved Allgaier up one position in the overall Nationwide Series point standings. He improved to fifth place and remained the leader of the Raybestos Rookie-Of-The-Year race.
Allgaier and the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge team visit the Watkins Glen International road course in Watkins Glen, New York next weekend for the running of the Zippo 200 at The Glen. The 200-mile event can be seen live on Saturday, August 8 on ESPN2 with coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. The event can also be heard live on MRN radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio channel 128.
Justin Allgaier Nationwide Series 250 Statistics
Laps Led: 35