CLERMONT, Ind. (July 24, 2010) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, started ninth and ran inside the top 10 all night long at O’Reilly Raceway Park on Saturday, taking the checkered flag in the seventh position.
Allgaier’s 11th top-10 finish of the 2010 season allowed him to maintain the third position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. With 15 races remaining in the 2010 season, Allgaier trails point leader and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski by 498 markers.
Allgaier recorded the 19th and ninth-fastest times, respectively, in Saturday’s dual Nationwide Series practice sessions. The Riverton, Ill. native ran a lap of 22.633 seconds, at an average speed of 109.115 mph, later that evening in qualifying to earn the 11th starting position for the feature that night.
When the green flag waved to start the 200-lap race, the field stacked up, resulting in Allgaier making contact with the rear of Colin Braun’s No. 16 entry. Despite the slight damage sustained, Allgaier kept his Verizon Dodge on track, recording lap times equal to or faster than the race leaders over the first quarter of the race.
When the No. 10 car made contact with the inside retaining wall to bring out the caution flag at lap 70, Allgaier followed the leaders down pit road for routine service of four tires and fuel. The Verizon crew performed their service flawlessly, allowing the 24-year-old driver to rejoin the field in the seventh position for the lap-82 restart.
Allgaier maintained the seventh position until relinquishing it to hit pit road at lap 119, under caution, for another scheduled service stop. With threatening weather in the area, crew chief Chad Walter elected to come to pit road early in case the race did make it to the scheduled distance. Although the weather never impacted the event, all was not lost for the Verizon crew, as the rest of the leaders elected to stick to the same plan until a multi-car incident at lap 161 saw much of the field hit pit road for service, leaving Allgaier to fend off his competition on fresher tires over the closing laps.
Allgaier aggressively worked to defend and gain positions as the laps wound down, and appeared to be headed for a ninth-place finish when, at lap 196, the No. 87 car spun to bring out the caution flag. With one final chance to improve his position, Allgaier passed two cars over the final three laps to earn a seventh-place finish.
"It was a good solid run for the Verizon Dodge tonight,” said Allgaier. “Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t work with us. We made a pit call to stay out, thinking the rain was going to come, and it didn’t. At the end of the day, it’s another top 10 and a big improvement from last year. Early in the race, we were probably as good as anybody. For whatever reason, we just got off a little bit there at the end and wasn’t able to go for the transition spot like I wanted to. I think the moisture and air kind of freed up the track as well. It stinks that we fell off like we did; but all in all, it was a great night for these guys. They did an awesome job. That’s what it’s all about.”
Next weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads west to Iowa Speedway for the second-annual 250-lap event. The race will be televised live on ESPN2 Saturday night, July 31 beginning at 7 p.m. EDT.