Allgaier Overcomes Penalty to Finish Ninth at Fontana

February 20, 2010

FONTANA, Calif. (February 20, 2010) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, was able to overcome a late-race penalty to finish ninth in Saturday’s Stater Bros. 300 at Auto Club Speedway.

The 23-year-old driver’s second-consecutive top-10 finish allowed him to maintain the fourth position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. Two races into the 2010 season, Allgaier trails point leader Carl Edwards by just 32 markers.

Allgaier recorded the 15th- and 10th-fastest times, respectively, in Friday’s two practice sessions, and followed that up by touring the two-mile oval in 40.774 seconds, at an average speed of 176.583 mph, in Saturday morning’s qualifying session to earn the 15th-starting spot for the 152-lap event. 

From the drop of the green flag, Allgaier struggled with a tight-handling condition on the Verizon Dodge. Despite his handling woes, the third-year driver worked his way to the 10th position at lap 22. Allgaier continued to run inside the top 10 for much of the opening third of the race.

As the field began hitting pit road for service under green-flag conditions at lap 77, crew chief Chad Walter instructed the Riverton, Ill. native to stay on the racing surface as the leaders began relinquishing positions. The call allowed Allgaier to lead one lap, gaining five points in the championship race, before coming to the attention of the Verizon crew for routine service of four tires and fuel at lap 82.

The race continued under the green flag until lap 118, when a two-car incident on the backstretch brought out the caution flag. Allgaier followed the leaders to pit road to take on four tires and fuel, but NASCAR deemed Allgaier too fast leaving pit road, resulting in a penalty forcing him to restart the race at the end of the longest line. The unfortunate circumstance resulted in a loss of 14 positions, placing Allgaier 20th for the lap 124 restart.

Allgaier worked diligently over the closing laps of the race to regain his lost positions. A late caution with just four laps remaining gave the Verizon team one final opportunity at making their charge. Allgaier and Walter agreed to come to pit road to take on four tires and a splash of fuel, placing them 14th for the final restart. Allgaier made the most of the situation, advancing five positions, to ninth, when the checkered flag waved.

Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Parker Kligerman finished third and 22nd, respectively.

“The speeding penalty was disappointing,” said Allgaier. “I was 50 RPM’s short of where I thought we needed to be to play it safe. That’s frustrating for the Verizon Dodge guys. They deserved a lot better finish. I felt like we could run with Brad and be up there with our teammate. We did come back. As far back as we were there at the end and come out with a good top-10 finish, it came out all right. We’ve got to build points. We had a bad day and came out all right. I can’t complain.”

Next week, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to “Sin City” for the Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live on ESPN2 Saturday, February 27 beginning at 4 p.m. ET.