Verizon Wireless Dodge Finishes 8th in Phoenix

April 18, 2009

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April, 17, 2009) – Penske Racing driver Justin Allgaier had to fight his way from the 42nd starting position to bring the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge home in the eighth spot in Saturday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway . The team was forced to pull out a backup car after an incident during qualifying.  The No. 12 backup had never seen race action, but the team was confident in both its driver and the Verizon Wireless machine.

At the start of the 200-lap Bashas’ Supermarkets 200, Allgaier knew he would have to be patient throughout the night in order to get his car to the front of the field. The 22-year-old Illinois native started the race on the inside of the last row but was not there for long. By lap 10, Allgaier had maneuvered his car up into the 30th spot. He radioed his Verizon Wireless crew to report the car was running great. The rookie went on to say he could keep his car running well on the bottom of the track and get back to the gas early out of the turns.  His comments were confirmed on the scoring monitor.  As the laps ticked off, the No.12 Verizon Wireless Dodge continued to move to the front.

When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 21 for an incident in turns 1 and 2, the No.12 Verizon Wireless team prepared to see the car on the pit lane. Allgaier rolled down pit road on lap 23 for service. The team changed four tires, filled the car with racing fuel and set Allgaier back onto the racing surface. The team had a lightning quick stop and picked up valuable track position on the race leaders.

Returning to green flag racing on lap 26, Allgaier found himself in the 21st spot. By lap 50, he had moved all the way up to the 13th position. He told crew chief Chad Walter the car was handling a bit tight in the center of the corners, but had really good forward bite. The tight condition was not hurting Allgaier’s laps times nor his ability to pass the competition. 

By lap 90, Allgaier had cracked the top-10 and would not relinquish that position for the remainder of the 200-lap event. The caution flag came out five laps later due to debris on the track. The team took the opportunity to make another crucial pit stop. Allgaier hit the pits on lap 97 for service. The team again put on four fresh Goodyear tires and filled the car with fuel. The No. 12 crew also made a small air pressure adjustment hoping to free up the car in the center of the corner. The Verizon Wireless team again had a superb stop, picking up two spots on pit lane.

At the halfway point of the race, Allgaier had the Verizon Wireless machine in the seventh spot. The rookie knew he had a great car, but had to avoid trouble to secure another strong finish. He fought with Nationwide Series veteran Jason Leffler for 25 laps in an epic side-by-side battle. Allgaier would eventually prevail in the fight for position. As the race wore on, the rising star racer radioed his team to once again explain that the car was still a bit tight in the center of the turns and he needed to accelerate a bit earlier in order to continue his forward progress.

Allgaier survived three late-race caution flags to cross the finish line in the eighth spot. The result marked the No. 12 team’s fourth top-10 finish in the last five races. Allgaier currently sits eighth in the Nationwide Series driver standings, only 80 points out of the fifth spot. 

“I am so proud of the Verizon Wireless team,” said Allgaier. “I messed up qualifying and made their job a bit harder but they didn’t give up. They worked their hearts out getting the backup car ready and it paid off. Today says a lot about this team and the Penske Racing organization. We know we can overcome adversity. The car was just awesome.  We only made a couple of air pressure adjustments all night. This car never saw the race track before we took the green flag and it was just on a rail right from the start of the race. The guys had great pit stops all night and we raced our way back to the front. I can’t say it enough I am the luckiest guy in the world. To have a boss like Roger Penske and have a team led by [crew chief] Chad Walter is just a dream come true. We will go on to Talladega and try to get another top-10 finish.”

The Verizon Wireless Dodge team will compete at the largest speedway on the NASCAR schedule next Saturday, racing at Talladega Superspeedway. The Aaron’s 312 be seen live on Saturday, April 25 on ABC-TV 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 Bashas’ Supermarket 200 Statistics
Start: 42nd 
Finish: Eighth  
Laps: 203/203
Laps Led: 0
Status: Running