MADISON, Ill. (July 18, 2009) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, had a top-five run going at his home track outside St Louis Saturday night until a late-race caution flag put him deep in the running order. The 23-year-old rookie standout held on to bring his Verizon Wireless Dodge home in the 11th spot.
Allgaier lined up for the start of the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 in the 13th position, but felt like he had a car capable of running among the leaders. On lap 12, Allgaier radioed crew chief Chad Walter to explain that the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge was a bit tight-handling in the center of the corners, which was hindering Allgaier from getting back on the gas coming out of the turns. As the green flag run progressed, Allgaier started to make his charge to the front. By lap 40, he had positioned his car in the top-10 and was posting lap times as quick as the leaders.
Allgaier brought his machine down pit lane on lap 61 for a green flag stop. The No. 12 team bolted on four fresh Goodyear tires and filled the car with high octane racing fuel. Walter also called for a slight air pressure adjustment to the right side tires, hoping to help the car rotate better through the corners.
The Verizon Wireless crew did a fantastic job on pit road, sending Allgaier back out onto the racing surface in the ninth spot. Allgaier again radioed to his team on lap 83 to explain that the car was still running tight early in the run and the rookie racer was taking his time until the tires really started to come in on the Dodge Charger.
By the halfway point of the race, Allgaier had the Verizon Wireless car positioned in ninth place, but was zeroing in on the top-five. The Rookie-of-the-Year contender knew his car was extremely strong on long runs and he was biding his time waiting to pass his competitors.
By lap 120, Allgaier had his car in the sixth spot, knocking on the door of the top-five. He told his team the car was still tight through the center of the corners, but the condition was not hindering him from continuing to make forward progress. Allgaier made it all the way up to the second position and was battling for the race lead, before the competitors with fresher tires made their way to the front.
With only 50 laps remaining in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, the Riverton, Ill. native had his car solidly positioned in the top-five. The No. 12 pit crew was gearing up to make their final pit stop of the evening. Allgaier rolled down pit lane for service on lap 172 under green flag conditions. The team changed two right side tires and filled the car with enough fuel to make it to the finish of the event. Unfortunately, the yellow caution flag was then displayed to the field because of fluid on the racing surface. The untimely caution dropped the No.12 Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger one lap down to the leaders, who had yet to make a pit stop.
Allgaier knew he had a strong car and was willing to fight to the finish. He was awarded the “lucky dog” free pass on lap 178, which put him at the tail end of the lead lap. Allgaier battled for the remaining 20 laps to bring the Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger home in the 11th spot.
“It was a good night for the Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger,” commented Allgaier after the race. “We had a top-three car all night. We just were on the wrong side of the late-race caution. I am really proud of [crew chief] Chad Walter and all the guys on this team. We had a great car and the crew did an outstanding job on pit road. This is my home track and I had a lot of family and friends here cheering us on. I really wanted us to have a good showing and I felt like we did that. I just can’t say enough about all the support we have received from the fans in this area. It is a bit overwhelming. To see all of them wearing 12 gear and cheering for our team is just awesome.”
The solid finish kept Allgaier seventh in the overall Nationwide Series driver point standings and he remained the leader of the Raybestos Rookie-Of-The-Year race.
Allgaier and the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge team return to racing action next Saturday night at O’Reilly Raceway Park. The Kroger 200 can be seen live on Saturday, July 25 on ESPN with coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. The event can also be heard live on MRN radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio channel 128.
Justin Allgaier Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 Statistics
Laps Led: 0