MADISON, Ill. (July 17, 2010) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, overcame handling woes and brake issues in the closing laps of Saturday night’s Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway to put himself in contention for a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for the hometown driver, as a late-race incident eliminated him from competition prematurely.
Despite the less-than-desired finish, Allgaier advanced one position, to third, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. After the 19th race of the 2010 season, the 24-year-old driver trails point leader and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski by 497 markers.
Allgaier recorded the eighth and 11th-fastest times in Saturday’s dual Nationwide Series practice sessions. Later that afternoon, the Riverton, Ill. native ran a lap of 34.091 seconds, at an average speed of 132.000 mph, to place him 16th on the starting grid for the race later that evening.
From the drop of the green flag, the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year struggled with an ill-handling Verizon Dodge. With long, green-flag runs setting the pace, his Chad Walter-led crew had little opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to help their driver better handle the 1.25-mile oval. Allgaier maintained a top-15 showing for the first half of the event, running as high as third at lap 119 before relinquishing the position to make a green-flag pit stop.
A decision to hit pit road as the race neared its conclusion at lap 180 saw the Verizon Dodge come to life, allowing Allgaier to advance from the 11th position to battle for sixth. While racing a fellow competitor for the position, another driver made it three-wide on the exit of the corner, resulting in Allgaier making contact with the outside retaining wall. Allgaier immediately reported that he had a tire going down, and that he would be making his way to pit road. As he attempted to slow down, the No. 10 car ran into the back of Allgaier’s Verizon Dodge, sending him into the inside wall. The incident sent the No. 12 entry to the garage, unable to finish the race.
“We didn’t have a great Verizon Dodge, but Chad Walter (crew chief) and all the guys did an awesome job planning pit strategy like they needed to and working on making the car better. We lost the brakes in the middle of the race. We got them back and got ourselves in position to make a run for it in the closing laps. Next thing you know, it was three wide, and I don’t know what happened from there. We don’t deserve this finish. I think we could have gotten up to fourth. It’s frustrating. Nevertheless, the Verizon guys did a great job tonight, and they have nothing to hang their heads over.”
Next weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Indiana for the Kroger 200 at O’Reilly Raceway Park. The race will be televised live on ESPN Saturday, July 24 beginning at 7:30 p.m.