CONCORD, N.C. (May, 23 2009) –Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge for Penske Racing, made a late-race charge to the front of the field Saturday night before rain in the area caused NASCAR to call the Carquest Auto Parts 300 with 30 laps remaining at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Allgaier finished in the 14th spot.
The 22-year-old rookie sensation started Saturday night’s 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series race from the 38th spot, but was bound and determined to get the Verizon Wireless Dodge up front. By lap 10, Allgaier had advanced to 28th place using the high lane on the 1.5-mile speedway. He called into his crew chief Chad Walter to explain that the car was loose throughout the corners and needed to be tightened up on the first round of pit stops. Walter and the team began to strategize on the changes the crew could make to the car.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 15 for an incident in turns 1 and 2, the Verizon Wireless Dodge team prepared to see its car on the pit lane. Allgaier rolled down the pit lane on lap 24 for service. The team took fuel only as well as making a chassis adjustment to their machine hoping to stabilize the car in the corners.
The race returned to green flag conditions on lap 29 and Allgaier had the Verizon Wireless machine in the 14th position. He radioed his team several laps later to explain that the changes that were made to the car were too much and it was now too tight handling. Walter relayed to Allgaier that the team would make some additional adjustments to the car on the next round of pit stops, but to do the best he could.
For the next green flag segment, Allgaier remained in the top-20, running times as good as the cars competing in the top-10. He again radioed his Verizon Wireless team on lap 80, describing the car as really tight-handling in the middle of the corners.
Allgaier brought his machine to pit road six laps later for a green flag pit stop. The team bolted on four fresh Goodyear tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The team also made both a trackbar and air pressure adjustment to their car hoping to free it up to help Allgaier rotate through the corners. The team had a lightning quick stop, picking up two positions on pit lane..
Three laps later, Allgaier spun his machine coming out of turn two, which brought out the third caution flag of the evening. The rookie driver did not make contact with either his competitors or the wall and was able to continue unscathed. He radioed to his team describing the car as too loose on a start of the run. He brought his machine back down pit road on lap 92 for service. The team put on four fresh tires and again filled the car with fuel. They crew also made an air pressure adjustment to the right side tires trying to tighten the car up at the start of a full fuel run.
Allgaier had the Verizon Wireless Dodge lined up in the 21st spot for the restart which came on lap 94. During the next segment, Allgaier showed both patience as well as talent. The Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender took his time getting past his competition taking only what the car would give him. Allgaier handled himself like a seasoned veteran, taking advantage of opportunities to pass while avoiding trouble around him.
With only 50 laps to go in the event, Allgaier had made it all the way up into the 14th spot and was running down the top-10. He still complained of a tight car but the condition was not hurting his lap times. On lap 168, the caution again flew for weather in the area. NASCAR made multiple efforts to dry the track, but Mother Nature won the battle and the race was called before the scheduled distance. The Verizon Wireless Dodge finished in 14th spot.
“I am so proud of my Verizon Wireless guys,” commented Allgaier after the race. “We unloaded on Thursday and just were not as good as we wanted to be. [Crew chief] Chad [Walter] did a great job making the car better for tonight’s race. We just did not need the rain. I think we had a top-five car, but with the way pit strategy worked out we finished 14th. This weekend was a true testament to how strong our Penske Racing organization is. We have a never give up attitude. I will be up early tomorrow watching Roger [Penske] go for his 15th Indy 500 win.”
Now 10th in the Nationwide Series standings, The No. 12 Verizon Wireless team heads to Dover, Del. and Dover International Raceway for the next event on the Nationwide Series schedule. The race can be seen live on Saturday, May 30 on ABC-TV with coverage beginning at 2 p.m. ET. The race can also be heard live on MRN Radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 128.
Justin Allgaier Carquest Auto Parts 300 Statistics
Laps Led: 0