AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 8, 2008) - Justin Allgaier, piloting the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge Charger, posted an 11th-place finish in Saturday’s Hefty Odor Block 200 race at Phoenix International Raceway. It was his best finish in only his third NASCAR Nationwide Series start for Penske Racing.
Allgaier had qualified the No. 12 machine in the 20th spot for Saturday afternoon’s 200-lap race at the one-mile oval just outside of Phoenix. As soon as the green flag dropped, Allgaier informed the Penske Truck Rental team that the car was tight-handling off the corners, and came down pit road on lap 22 for four tires, fuel and wedge adjustments. Allgaier restarted in 26th place and by lap 30, was closing in on the top-20.
On lap 47, still working on the No. 12’s handling, Allgaier got “loose” under another competitor and spun. “I got a little lower on the bumps and started hopping and wouldn’t turn left,” Allgaier radioed to Penske Truck Rental team crew chief Matt Gimbel. “I got in under the (No.) 59 and it wouldn’t hold and spun.”
Gimbel brought the No. 12 machine down pit road for four fresh tires, and Allgaier restarted the race in 33rd position. Soon after, Allgaier had some challenges with a tight-handling condition and came down pit road again for fuel and a wedge adjustment. He restarted the race in 10th, as Gimbel elected not to change tires on that stop.
Unfortunately the adjustments did not change the tight condition, and additionally, Allgaier reported the No. 12 was “too loose” coming off the corners. On lap 123, Gimbel brought the young driver back down pit road for four tires, fuel and an additional wedge adjustment.
As the race progressed and the sun drifted lower in the Arizona sky, visibility through turn one became difficult for Allgaier, but he maintained times as fast as the leaders while running in 15th place. By lap 180, Allgaier advanced to 12 th spot, but at that point was put one lap down by the leader.
When the caution flew on lap 194, Gimbel brought Allgaier down pit lane one last time for two right side tires. Allgaier restarted 12th on lap 199 for the green/white/checkered finish and picked up another spot as a crash on the front stretch occurred. This enabled Allgaier to post an 11th-place finish in only his third race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Penske Racing
“I couldn’t be happier for the Penske Truck Rental team,” Allgaier said after the event. “These guys on this crew have worked so hard to run well and this is a tribute to their hard work. It was a long day, we got around early unfortunately and these guys never gave up on me. I wish we could have brought home a top-10, but hey, we’ll take 11th and our first good finish of the season.”
Allgaier will be back in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge at Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday, November 15, for the running of the Ford 300. The race will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. EST and will air on MRN radio at 4:30 p.m. EST.