INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 25, 2009) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, secured a 21st-place finish Saturday night at O’Reilly Raceway Park (ORP).
Allgaier lined up for the start of the Kroger 200 in the 25th position at the famed Indy short track. The 23-year-old Illinois driver had never raced at the .686-mile bullring, but history had shown that the rookie sensation required little seat time to have success. Before taking the green flag, crew chief Chad Walter reminded his driver to exercise patience on his way to the front. On lap 22, Allgaier radioed Walter to explain that the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge was a bit loose-handling in the center of the corners, which was hindering Allgaier from getting back on the gas coming out of the turns.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 48 because of an incident on the racing surface, Allgaier prepared to make his first pit stop of the night. He rolled into his pit stall on lap 50 for service. The team changed both right side tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The No. 12 crew also made a slight air pressure adjustment, hoping to stabilize the car in the corners during the next green flag stint.
The green flag waved to restart the race on lap 53 and Allgaier found himself in the 23rd spot. He started to again make a charge to the front of the field, using the low line on the race track. He radioed to his crew on lap 75 to explain that the car was significantly better, but the Verizon Wireless Dodge was still handling a bit free while Allgaier was trying to get back on the accelerator.
The caution flag was again displayed to the field on lap 89, and the No.12 team prepared to make another stop. Allgaier pulled into his pit stall three laps later for service. The team bolted on four fresh Goodyear Eagles and filled the car with fuel. Walter again worked with the tire pressure trying to tighten up the car.
The race was restarted on lap 96 and Allgaier found himself in the 18th position. The Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger driver was making steady progress towards the front. With only 50 laps remaining in the 200-lap event, Allgaier had his car positioned in the 14th position. He was posting lap times as quick as the top-six cars.
On lap 167, Allgaier lost control of his machine coming out of turn 2 and spun into the infield grass. The Penske Racing driver did a great job keeping the car off the wall and was able to continue. The incident did bring out the caution flag, giving the Riverton, Ill. native a chance to come down the pit road and allowing the crew to work on their machine. The team also took the opportunity to bolt on four fresh tires before sending Allgaier back out onto the racing surface.
Allgaier restarted the race on lap 174 in the 24th spot and managed to pick up three positions before taking the checkered flag.
“We came into ORP here with high hopes,” commented Allgaier after the race. “We felt like our short track program was definitely better than it has been in the past. I don’t know what we missed this weekend, but it’s just tough for all the guys on the Verizon Wireless Dodge. They worked really hard. Everybody was working their butts off. At some points in the race we were as good as the leaders. Track position killed us and long runs – some runs we’d go loose and some runs we’d go tight, just trying to get a good handle on the car. It is a tough night, but we’ll get them next weekend.”
Saturday night’s finish moved Allgaier up one spot in the overall Nationwide Series driver point standings. He improved to sixth 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 Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. The Nationwide Series 250 can be seen live on Saturday, August 1 on ESPN with coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET. The event can also be heard live on MRN radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio channel 128.
Justin Allgaier Kroger 200 Statistics
Laps Led: 0