Alex Tagliani Races His Way to a Second-Place Finish
June 23, 2014
Gardner Denver 200 at Road America (4.05-mile road course, Elkhart, Wis.)
Saturday, June 21, 2014
The No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
Driver: Alex Tagliani
Starting Position: 1
Finish Position: 2
Owner's Points Position: 2
THE RACE REVIEW
· Making his first start of the season, Alex Tagliani qualified the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford on the pole for Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America.
· Rain delayed the start of the race by just over an hour, with the green flag coming right around 2:50 p.m. CT.
· As the race began, Tagliani settled in and logged laps inside the top-three prior to the first caution, which flew on lap 12.
· During the caution laps, Tagliani radioed to the crew that his car was extremely loose. Crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, called for fuel, four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment to fix the loose handling race car. However, after the stop, the crew determined that the left rear tire had a slow leak, and that was likely the reason for the loose handling Mustang.
· On lap 15, the race was green once again, and Tagliani restarted from the ninth position. By lap 24, Tagliani raced his way up to the third position as the rain started again. NASCAR called a full course caution at lap 25 which gave teams the opportunity to change to rain tires.
· Once the race went green again, Tagliani challenged race leader, Hornish Jr. for the top spot. The racing conditions were slick, and Tagliani was able to pass for the lead on lap 29 while Hornish over drove a turn.
· Tagliani would check out to a 6.725 second lead while other drivers were having issues with the wet conditions. A full course caution fell on lap 37, and Bullins decided not to pit and instructed Tagliani to save fuel.
· With 10 laps to go, Tagliani was leading the race and trying to conserve fuel. He was able to distance himself with a 4 second lead over second place before another full course caution fell with three laps to go. At that time, the rain stopped, and the sun began to break through the clouds.
· While under caution, Tagliani ran out of fuel coming up the hill to turn 14. The No. 22 Mustang got a push back to pit road. Bullins called for a fresh set of slicks and fuel. Tagliani would restart on the tail end of the longest line in 23rd position with two laps remaining.
· With four fresh slicks and the rest of the field on rain tires, Tagliani was able to race his way up to the fourth position. With just one lap left, Tagliani was challenging for the second position.
· As the checkers flew, Tagliani was scored second as he made a valiant charge through the field over the last two laps of the event.
· The strong performance allows the No. 22 Team Penske Mustang to maintain second place in the NNS Owners’ point standings, 50 points behind the leader, the No. 54 of JGR.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
ALEX TAGLIANI, NO. 22 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD MUSTANG
ONCE THE RAIN CAME, YOU WERE JUST ABOUT UNSTOPPABLE. DESCRIBE HOW YOU FELT RUNNING OUT OF GAS WHILE LEADING SO CLOSE TO THE FINISH?
"It was pretty intense, the wet track was tricky, but obviously we were good. Maybe I threw a bad spell on myself because I said it was impossible that I was going to win this race, like something's going to happen, and then on the white flag, something happened, I ran out of gas. It's what it is. It's not in the cards. You have to be quick, you have to have a good car and it has to be in the cards, and if it's not, you just have to take whatever comes to you. It was great racing through the field with two laps left from 23rd to finish second. I am proud of this team, and we did a great job to come back."
YOU AND CHASE ELLIOTT SPOKE AFTER THE RACE, WHAT WAS SAID?
"As soon as he saw my slicks, he goes, 'OK, I understand. He took away the dry line so for me to pass him, I had to go in the wet line, but I'm on slicks so for sure, I slid door to door, but I was already on the inside of him. Finally, he said he understood, so I said, 'good job.' That was it."