Verizon Wireless Dodge Finishes 17th at The Milwaukee Mile
June 21, 2009
Most of the No. 12 team, including crew chief Chad Walter and team engineer Jonathan Hassler, were stranded in Charlotte Thursday night when their flight was canceled due to weather. Walter and several others jumped in a rented van and drove all night to arrive just as technical inspection was closing. In final practice the next day, Allgaier lost control of his Dodge Charger and struck the wall. The team scrambled to prepare the backup car for qualifying and Allgaier piloted to a 21st-place starting position for the NorthernTool.com 250.
As the green flag fell, Allgaier settled in for 250 miles of racing. He quickly moved through the field, jumping up eight spots in the first 27 laps. He held the position, despite fighting a tight-handling condition in the turns. Walter informed his driver that he was turning laps consistently faster than the race leaders. As the long green flag run continued, the pair discussed air pressure adjustments to help improve the handling of the Verizon Wireless Dodge turn in the corners.
The first 50 laps saw three lead changes as Allgaier continued to turn consistent laps and conserve his tires. Competitors began visiting pit lane for service under green flag conditions beginning on lap 73. Thanks to Allgaier's conservative driving, the Verizon Wireless Dodge was able to stay out on track and gain valuable track position.
Walter instructed the Verizon Wireless crew to prepare to see their machine on pit road on lap 80. Allgaier pulled his Dodge in for fuel and four fresh Goodyear tires. After the quick stop, the No. 12 Dodge was given a drive-through penalty from NASCAR officials for speeding off of pit road. The penalty put the Verizon Wireless Dodge a lap down, fighting for the Lucky Dog free pass position to get back on the lead lap. Running in the 22nd position, Allgaier once again began turning smooth, consistent laps.
The NorthernTool.com 250 remained caution-free until the yellow flag flew on lap 124 - the longest opening green flag run since the series visited Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2001. Walter called the Verizon Wireless Dodge in for service, but was hesitant to make changes. The No. 12 machine received four tires and fuel, and Allgaier re-entered the race in the 21st spot.
Despite handling tight in the middle of the turns, Allgaier managed to navigate the Verizon Wireless Dodge to the 16th position by lap 143. Despite working to improve his position, Allgaier was still two cars away from retuning to lead-lap racing. Smooth cornering and tire preservation allowed the Penske Racing driver to continually turn fast laps.
A close call with fellow rookie racer Michael McDowell forced Allgaier high on the track and out of the racing groove. A yellow flag was presented to the field shortly after the incident, allowing the Verizon Wireless crew to replace the car's tires and top off its fuel tank. The crew made air pressure and track bar adjustments and sent Allgaier back onto the race track. The team's quick work allowed Allgaier to gain valuable track position, and he took the green flag in the 14th position on lap 199.
The third caution period of the night moved Mike Bliss onto the lead lap, putting Allgaier in a battle with Scott Lagasse for the next Lucky Dog position. The green flag fell with 40 laps to go, and Allgaier immediately went to work. While fighting for position, Allgaier and Lagasse made contact and spun. The incident brought out a yellow flag, and Walter ordered the No. 12 machine down pit road for fresh rubber. Allgaier re-entered the race track and took the green flag in the 19th position with 34 laps remaining.
Allgaier's smooth driving style allowed him to gain a spot, moving into 18th with 10 laps to go. As laps ticked away, Allgaier remained focused. In the final five laps, he was able to earn another spot. He brought the Verizon Wireless Dodge across the start-finish line in the 17th position with the checkered flags waving.
The result moved Justin Allgaier to eighth place in the Nationwide Series driver point standings and he remains in the hunt for top series rookie honors.
"I just feel bad for the whole Verizon Wireless team," commented Allgaier after the 250-lap event. "After their flight was canceled late Thursday, they drove through the night to get here from Charlotte. Then we crashed in final practice. They did an amazing job preparing this backup car for qualifying and tonight's race. They deserved a better finish for everything they did this weekend."
Allgaier and the No. 12 Verizon Wireless team will move from The Milwaukee Mile to the "Magic Mile" for the next event on the Nationwide Series schedule. The Camping World RV Sales 200 presented by Turtle Wax at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be aired live on Saturday, June 27 on ABC-TV with coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. The event can also be heard live on PRN Radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 128.