WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 8, 2009) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, secured a 17th-place finish Saturday afternoon at the Watkins Glen International road course in upstate New York.
Allgaier lined up for the start of the Zippo 200 at The Glen in the 27th position. The 23-year-old Illinois driver had never competed in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at a road course, but history had shown that the rookie sensation required little seat time to have success.
On lap seven, Allgaier called into his team to explain that the car had a handling issue that was hurting him in the high-speed turns. Crew chief Chad Walter told his driver to do the best he could and the team would make a chassis adjustment on the first pit stop.
The caution flag was displayed to the field on the very next lap and the No.12 Verizon Wireless crew started to prepare for their first pit stop of the day. Allgaier rolled down pit lane on lap 10 for service. The team went to work filling the car with fuel and made a trackbar adjustment hoping to help stabilize the car in the corners.
The race was restarted on lap 12 and Allgaier found himself in the 25th spot, but he was on a move towards the front of the field. By lap 30, Allgaier had made it all the way up into the seventh spot and was posting lap times consistent with the leaders. He radioed his team to inform them that the car was much better, but he could still use a bit of help with the handling in the ‘s’ turns. Allgaier described the car as loose in the right-hand turns and tight in the left turns.
The caution flag was again displayed to the field on lap 33 for an incident in turn six. The Verizon Wireless crew again prepared to service their machine. Allgaier rolled into his pit stall on lap 35 to take on four fresh tires and fill the car with racing fuel. The team also made a slight chassis adjustment as well as an air pressure adjustment hoping to dial the car in.
The green flag waived to restart the race on lap 37 and Allgaier was positioned in the 19th spot. He again radioed to his team to explain that the car was loose in the high-speed turns, which was hurting his speed down the two long straightaways at Watkins Glen. Walter knew he would only have one more shot to work on the car before the end of the event and was contemplating what changes to make to the Verizon Wireless Dodge.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field for the third time on lap 43, Allgaier prepared to make his final scheduled pit stop of the race. He came onto pit road on lap 45 for fuel only. As Allgaier was leaving his pit box, the No. 12 made contact with the 16 car, causing damage to the right front fender. Allgaier had to return to pit lane on the next lap to repair the damage to his machine. The team quickly fixed the damage and sent Allgaier back onto the racing surface without losing a lap.
The Verizon Wireless Dodge driver restarted the race in the 29th spot, but was determined to make his way back up the running order. By lap 70, Allgaier had cracked the top-20 and was running consistent lap times. He told his team the car was much better than at the start of the race, but he had to take his time navigating through traffic.
Allgaier held on for the remaining laps to finish in the 17th spot. Saturday’s top-20 finish helped Allgaier remain fifth in the overall Nationwide Series driver point standings. He also retained the lead in the Raybestos Rookie-Of-The-Year race.
“It was a rough day,” said Allgaier after his run. “We got messed up on pit road. We left the pits and everything was good and we were fixing to have a really good day and unfortunately, I’m guessing that a driver wasn’t listening to his spotter all that well, I guess is what it comes down to because I ended up getting turned into the 16. And I hate it for those guys because they got wrecked on pit road and didn’t even know what was going on. It’s a shame. That got us behind the eight-ball. I had a lot of fun with it, the first road course. It was definitely a blast. I think you can only go as hard as your car will let you. You see a lot of guys over push it and end up getting themselves in trouble. We were running lap times that were pretty good for as many laps as we had on our tires and just getting more comfortable with the car. But you know the bad part here is, if you’re out by yourself it’s fine, no problems. Once you get in traffic you’re in a dogfight to try to get any spots or any positions. That makes it really tough when you’re in a big group like that. That’s what we fought most of the day was being back there in a line of traffic and couldn’t get through it. The positive side of today was I learned a lot and will be ready for Montreal (next road course) in a couple of weeks.”
Allgaier and the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge team return to racing action next Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. The CARFAX 250 can be seen live on Saturday, August 15 on ESPN2 with coverage beginning at 3 p.m. ET. The event can also be heard live on MRN radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio channel 128.
Justin Allgaier Zippo 200 at The Glen Statistics
Laps Led: 0