Allgaier Finishes 17th, Runs Strong in Dodge Challenger Debut at Daytona

July 3, 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 2, 2010) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, had a strong run going in the first half of Friday night’s Subway Jalapeno 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway. Unfortunately, the rear bumper cover of Allgaier’s Dodge Challenger folded up on lap 83, robbing him of rear downforce, and eventually relegating the 24-year-old driver to a 17th-place finish.

Allgaier’s 16th top-20 finish of the 2010 season allows him to maintain the third position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. With 17 races complete in the 2010 season, Allgaier trails point leader and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski by 488 markers.

Allgaier recorded the 18th-fastest time in Wednesday’s open NASCAR Nationwide Series test session. The Riverton, Ill. native followed that up by posting the 21st-fastest time in Thursday’s second practice. Wanting to play it safe, Allgaier and crew chief Chad Walter agreed to skip the final session later that afternoon, knowing that the “big one,” the multi-car accident that typically happens at Daytona that eliminates much of the field from competition, can strike at any time – even in practice.

Despite threatening weather in the area, Friday afternoon’s qualifying session went off as scheduled. Allgaier ran a lap of 49.485 seconds, at an average speed of 181.873 mph, to earn the fourth starting position for the final restrictor plate race of the 2010 season.

From the drop of the green flag on Friday night, the Verizon Dodge driver raced between second and eighth place, his position changing every lap as a result of the multi-car draft that keeps the field bunched closely together. As the laps clicked off and their pit window opened, Walter called Allgaier to pit road at lap 32. Just as he peeled off the banking and slowed his pace, the No. 15 car spun behind him, bringing out the caution flag. Allgaier made an evasive move and made it back onto the racing surface before committing to pit road, which enabled him to take on four tires and fuel with the rest of the field when pit road opened at lap 34.

When green flag racing resumed, Allgaier continued to be a mainstay inside the top 10. He worked his way to the front of the pack, taking the lead at lap 50 and holding the spot for 11 laps.

Just past the race’s three-quarter mark, Allgaier got a push down the backstretch from teammate Keselowski that knocked the rear bumper cover lose. Miraculously, the fiberglass panel stayed attached to Allgaier’s Challenger, but folded up over the rear spoiler. The loss of rear downforce saw the No. 12 sliding all over the racetrack, but with no caution to give them the chance to work on repairs, the Verizon crew could do nothing but stand and watch as Allgaier somehow managed to keep his wounded machine under control.

Just five laps from the scheduled completion of the event, the No. 98 car suffered a right-front tire failure that sent him careening into the outside wall, placing the field under caution. Finally getting the break that he needed, Allgaier came to pit road where the crew went to work repairing the damage. When the race restarted, Allgaier was shown 26th, the final car on the lead lap. The third-year driver made the most of the green-white-checkered flag finish, advancing to the 17th position when the checkered flag waved.

“The race was great,” said Allgaier. “The Verizon Challenger was awesome. My team did a great job in preparing this new car and giving me a great race car right off the hauler. It was going to be a great day up until the rear bumper cover came loose. Once that happened, the car just got way too loose. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of track position. I felt like we had the car to beat all night. I knew that I could make a good run to get up to the leaders and felt like if we could have gotten a little help that we would make a run all the way up to the front. It’s frustrating, but it happens in this sport. We feel like we have a great handle on the new Challenger. We’re going to be in great shape going back to Michigan when we race these cars again.”

Next weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for the Dollar General 300 powered by Coca-Cola.  The race will be televised live on ESPN Friday night, July 9 beginning at 7:30 p.m.