CONCORD, N.C. (October 15, 2010) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, turned in an impressive third-place finish in Friday night’s Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Allgaier’s seventh top-five finish of the 2010 season allows him to maintain the fourth position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. With four races remaining in the 2010 season, Allgaier trails point leader and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski by 851 markers, and third-place contender Kyle Busch by 336 points.
The Verizon team’s weekend did not begin as they hoped. Despite recording the ninth-fastest time in Thursday morning’s opening practice session, the Chad Walter-led crew struggled with a myriad of issues that saw them post only the 20th-best time in the afternoon session. A frustrated driver and crew chief went back to the drawing board as the No. 12 team changed almost every component of their Dodge Challenger for Friday afternoon’s twin practice sessions.
The changes made overnight proved to be the right ones, as Allgaier posted the 12th and 17th fastest times, respectively, in Friday’s sessions. The following afternoon, Allgaier recorded a lap of 30.016 seconds, at an average speed of 179.904 mph, to earn the ninth starting position for the 31st race of the 2010 season.
From the drop of the green flag, Allgaier displayed the strength of his Dodge Challenger. The 24-year-old driver made a daring three-wide pass on the opening lap to advance to the sixth position. Allgaier continued his climb towards the front of the field, advancing to the fourth position at lap 17 despite battling a tight-handling condition. As green-flag conditions prevailed, the field began to hit pit road for scheduled service at lap 52. Walter elected to call Allgaier to pit road at lap 54 to take on four tires and fuel. The three-time winning crew chief elected not to make any chassis adjustments, opting to let the changing track conditions fine-tune the handling of Allgaier’s Verizon Challenger.
As the laps clicked off, Allgaier continued to hold his position in the top five. Although he complained of inconsistent handling and an overall lack of stability, the Riverton, Ill.-native was able to maintain his position. A late-race caution at lap 188 gave Allgaier one last chance to chase down the race leader. After restarting fourth when the green flag was displayed at lap 192, the 2010 Bristol Motor Speedway winner was able to overtake the No. 20 entry to advance to the third position, where he would take the checkered flag to record a career-best finish at Charlotte.
“The Penske Dodge Challenger was awesome tonight,” said Allgaier. “These Verizon guys do a great job week in and week out. We don’t always get the results, but tonight they worked their tails off and we got a good finish. I’ll tell you, 72 hours ago, there was no way we were not going to have a good weekend. All these guys worked together as a group. It’s an honor to get behind the wheel and run as well as we did tonight. I just thank God for giving me the ability to do this.
“It’s been tough with the speculation about next year, but to be able to come out and run as well as we have been is awesome. I’m looking forward to what the next couple of weeks hold. We’re going home to Gateway next week. Trying to get a good finish in front of my hometown fans and stay where we’re at in points is definitely important to me.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of what Justin (Allgaier) and the Verizon Dodge team have done,” added Walter. “I believe we’re class contenders with the new car and we’re really looking forward to 2011. We had a strong car all night, and had some great restarts. The kid (Allgaier) drove his heart out. Man, he’s solid at these mile-and-half tracks. I’m real happy with what’s happened here in the last 72 hours, to get a third-place finish is awesome.”
Next weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Allgaier’s home track, Gateway International Raceway. ESPN2’s live television coverage of the 5-Hour Energy 250 begins Saturday, October 23 at 3 p.m. EDT. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.