AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 14, 2010) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, started third and appeared to have a top-five car for much of Saturday’s WYPALL 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, but lost track position and late-race contact relegated the third-year driver to an eighth-place finish.
Allgaier’s 20th top-10 finish of the 2010 season allows him to maintain the fourth position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. With just one race remaining in the 2010 season, Allgaier trails point leader and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski by 930 markers, and third-place contender Kyle Busch by 195 points.
Allgaier recorded the first and eighth-fastest times, respectively, in Friday’s dual Nationwide Series practice sessions. Saturday morning, the Riverton, Ill. native ran a lap of 27.006 seconds, at an average speed of 133.304 mph, to earn the third starting position for the feature later that afternoon.
Allgaier maintained the third position for the opening segment of the race, but when the No. 70 car experienced engine failure and dropped oil on the racing surface at lap 21, NASCAR was forced to display the caution flag. Allgaier followed the race leaders down pit road to the attention of the Verizon crew for routine service of four tires and fuel, but a slow stop resulted in the loss of five positions. The setback placed Allgaier in a pack of traffic, greatly changing the handling characteristics of his Dodge Charger.
As green-flag conditions prevailed, Allgaier was able to overcome his handling woes to place the No. 12 as high as the second position on the scoring pylon at lap 88.
When the No. 00 machine made contact with the outside retaining wall to bring out the caution flag at lap 115, the leaders came to pit road for what would be their final stop of the day. The Chad Walter-led crew again performed routine service of four tires and fuel, with minor air pressure adjustments to help fine-tune their Verizon machine. After lining up fifth for the lap-121 restart, Allgaier found himself in several battles for position. Unfortunately, the lack of clean air took away much of the turning ability of his Dodge. In the closing laps, Allgaier and Aric Almirola battled side-by-side for the seventh position. At lap 193, the No. 88 machine made contact with the No. 12, resulting in right-side damage. Despite his best efforts, he could not overcome his handling issues and damage sustained in the incident, resulting in an eighth-place finished when the checkered flag was displayed.
“My guys do a good job every week, and this week was no different,” said Allgaier. “They gave me a great Verizon Dodge. We qualified third and had a top-10 finish. With about 50 laps to go, the handling fell off and the car got pretty tight. It’s the same car we had at Gateway. We just weren’t as good on the long runs and I really don’t know why. That first pit stop, we got behind and just couldn’t completely recover that position back. I was trying to hold my own at the end. Unfortunately, he (Aric Almirola) got to us. I knew he was there. We were able to maintain on the outside. We ran down into (Turn) 1 and he kind of drove straight. He came down afterwards and said I was chopping him off, but we had the same issue at Charlotte. I don’t race that way. That’s the part that’s unfortunate. I hate it. We tore up a race car when we shouldn’t have. At the end of the day, we had a decent top-10 finish. We’ll go on to Homestead and try to end the year with a win for everyone at Verizon and Penske Racing.”
Next weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers and crews head to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final event of the 2010 season. ESPN2’s live television coverage of the Ford 300 begins Saturday, November 20 at 4 p.m. EDT. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.