CONCORD, N.C. (October 10, 2008) – Justin Allgaier, making his debut in the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, survived wet weather, near-misses with spinning competitors, multiple caution periods and a tight-handling condition only to get caught up in a multi-car incident in Friday night’s Dollar General 300. The 22-year old Penske Racing newcomer was posted in the 34th position at the end of the event.
After starting in 14th place in the 200-lap, 300-mile race, Allgaier and the Penske Truck Rental crew worked hard and, by lap 119, cracked the top-10 in a field filled with NASCAR Cup Series regulars. On lap 125, when Allgaier was running strong in 13th spot, the No. 66 and No. 31 cars collided and caused a multi-car incident which ended the day of the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge.
“It’s just really unfortunate,” said Allgaier after being released from the Lowe’s Motor Speedway infield care center. “All the guys on the crew really worked hard and we got the car where I wanted to be at. The car was really starting to come to us. Unfortunately we got caught up in someone else’s mess and we’ll just have to go onto the next race with the Penske Truck Rental Dodge.”
Due to intermittent wet weather conditions on Thursday and Friday, Allgaier only had a limited number of laps at the 1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway, a track he had never driven on previously in a Nationwide Series machine. Allgaier had no problem qualifying into the Dollar General 300 and started in front of a number of current NASCAR Cup Series stars.
It was only on lap two of the race when the first caution period came out of the evening for a single-car incident. Allgaier reported to Penske Truck Rental crew chief Matt Gimbel that the No. 12 was a little tight-handling throughout the corners. When the race restarted on lap 5, Allgaier remained in 14th spot. But it was only one more lap until the second caution period started, for another single-car incident. In that lap, Allgaier lost four spots and was listed in 18th spot.
By lap eight, still under caution, the first round of wet weather hit for the evening and the cars were brought to pit road and NASCAR issued a red flag, halting race action. Almost 11 minutes later, the race resumed.
When the green flag waved on lap 15, Allgaier remained in 18th spot. Throughout the next 33 green-flag laps, Allgaier fluctuated between 18th and 23rd spot, holding his own in his first Nationwide Series event, but having some trouble with the tight-handling condition of the No. 12 machine.
On lap 48, the next yellow flag waved, and the Penske Truck Rental team sprung into action. Allgaier hit pit road on lap 50 and the team changed four tires – two of which had adjusted air pressures - added fuel and made a track bar adjustment.
The green flag waved on lap 53 with Allgaier posted in 19th spot. He worked with the traffic conditions, going three-wide at times while listening intently to his spotter. Allgaier reported to Gimbel on lap 72 that the changes made on the previous stop helped the car around the bottom of the race track, but he still had some trouble along the top line.
On lap 80, Allgaier’s 16-plus years of racing experience came into play as he narrowly avoided being collected by the No. 19 car after it hit the No. 25 machine. Allgaier was forced onto the apron of the track at speed, but other than some minor front valence damage, the No. 12 car emerged unscathed.
Three laps into the caution period caused by the lap 80 incident, NASCAR halted on-track action once again for rain. Allgaier halted the Penske Truck Rental Dodge on pit road in 21st spot, the last car on the lead lap.
Nearly an hour later, racing action resumed. While under caution as NASCAR rechecked track conditions, Allgaier came down pit road. On that lap 86 stop, the Penske Truck Rental crew repaired the front valence, adjusted the track bar and tire pressure, changed tires and added fuel. The race restarted on lap 87 with the No. 12 posted in 21st spot.
On lap 95, Allgaier once again avoided a wreck, this time between the No. 64 and 7 cars. He reported to the team under the ensuing caution period that his car remained tight-handling. The No. 12 car came down pit road on lap 97 for a quick track bar adjustment and to take tape off of the car’s grille, returning for the lap 99 restart in 20th spot.
The restart was aborted when the field bunched up behind the leader and a few cars were forced off track. Allgaier stayed out and was in 18th spot when the green flag waved on lap 103.
Three laps later, another caution period began. The team continued to adjust on the No. 12 machine, which was given another track bar adjustment and was topped off with fuel, restarting the race on lap 109 in 19th place.
Only seven laps of green-flag action occurred when the yellow flag waved again. Allgaier reported that the No. 12 was still “tight in the middle and off of the corners, but very loose into the entry,” and Gimbel’s crew was ready to make further adjustments when the car returned to pit road on lap 118.
A very quick stop by the Penske Truck Rental crew resulted in Allgaier restarting the race on lap 121 in 10th spot. Within a few laps, he slipped back to 13th, but was holding his own when he was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 125.
Although Allgaier’s debut was shortened by an incident out of his control, Penske Racing was very pleased with his performance in the No. 12 machine.
"We’re really excited for Justin,” said Michael Nelson, Vice President of Operations, Penske Racing South. “He did a good job and drove a smart race. It’s unfortunate what happened to him, but we’re proud of his performance in the Penske Truck Rental Dodge. We look forward to the next race in Texas.”
Kyle Busch won the extended-time Dollar General 300 in the No. 18 Toyota.
Justin Allgaier will return behind the wheel of the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge at the O’Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. The race is scheduled for Saturday, November 1, and will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. (ET) and will air on the PRN radio network at 3:30 p.m. (ET).