NEWTON, Iowa (July 31, 2010) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, overcame a practice incident that saw him go to a backup car to qualify, and finish eighth in Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway.
Despite recording his 12th top-10 finish of the 2010 season, Allgaier fell one position, to fourth, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. With 14 races remaining in the 2010 season, Allgaier trails point leader and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski by 516 markers.
Steady rain on Friday afternoon forced NASCAR to cancel the scheduled dual Nationwide Series practice sessions, making Saturday’s affair a one-day show. When Allgaier hit the track to make his first laps of practice, the No. 6 car slid up the track and into Allgaier’s oncoming Verizon Dodge. The damage sustained in the incident forced the No. 12 team to unload their backup Charger off the transporter. The Chad Walter-led crew worked quickly to get through the inspection process, allowing Allgaier to make 21 laps en-route to recording the 12th-best time of the session.
Later that afternoon, the two-time Nationwide Series pole winner ran a lap of 23.863 seconds, at an average speed of 132.004 mph, to earn the eighth starting position for the 250-lap feature.
Allgaier raced inside the top-seven for the first 42 laps of the event before a red-flag period brought the field to a halt for some seven minutes. With an opportunity to hit pit road, Walter called Allgaier to the attention of the Verizon crew where major chassis adjustments were made to correct the handling of the No. 12 Dodge. Having spent additional time on pit road to make the necessary changes, Allgaier restarted ninth and would find himself dropping as far back as the 15th position as the changes made did little to help the balance of his machine.
Allgaier and Walter worked relentlessly to re-enter the top-10 as the laps clicked off, doing so at lap 110. For much of the mid-part of the event, Allgaier continued to struggle with an ill-handling Verizon Dodge, but got the break he needed at lap 203 when an incident involving the No. 01 car brought out the caution flag, giving the race leaders one final opportunity to make adjustments. Allgaier followed the leaders to pit road, where Walter elected to make a two-tire stop, allowing the 24-year-old driver to restart in the third position with 42 laps remaining.
With four tires prevailing over the closing laps, Allgaier aggressively worked to defend positions as the finish neared. Despite losing positions to the stronger cars, Allgaier made the most of his night, bringing home an eighth-place finish when the checkered flag waved.
“I feel like we had a seventh-place car tonight,” said Allgaier. “Unfortunately, the No. 15 car got around us on the last restart and jammed me down on the bottom. The Verizon guys were awesome all day. We threw a lot at the car tonight and Chad (Walter, crew chief) made great calls. The determination to never give up is what’s going to win championships and my guys never quit tonight. We had a bad night and still finished eighth. When you have bad nights, this is the kind of bad night that you need to have versus limping home in 30th place. We’ll take it and move on to Watkins Glen next weekend.”
Next weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads north to Watkins Glen Internatonal for the second road course event of the 2010 season. Live coverage of the Zippo 200 at the Glen will be televised live on ESPN Saturday afternoon, August 7 beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT.