DARLINGTON, S.C. (May, 8, 2009) –Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge for Penske Racing, matched his career-best finish of fifth place at the track too tough to tame on Friday night.
The 22-year-old rookie sensation started Friday night’s 200-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway from the 16th spot, but was bound and determined to get the Verizon Wireless Dodge up front. On lap 1 of the Diamond Hill Plywood 200, Allgaier had to take evasive action to miss the spinning car of Brad Keselowski, whose machine broke loose between turns 1 and 2. Allgaier avoid the trouble and in the process picked up three positions on the track.
By lap 5, Allgaier had his Verizon Wireless Dodge in the top-10 and never relinquished the position. On lap 19, he radioed to crew chief Chad Walter to explain his Dodge Charger was getting tight in the middle of the corners. Walter started to strategize on the changes he was going to make to the car during the first round of pit stops.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 42 for an incident in turns 3 and 4, the Verizon Wireless Dodge team prepared to see its car on the pit lane. Allgaier rolled down the pit lane on lap 44 for service. The team changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The team also made a slight air pressure adjustment to the car hoping to dial it in for the next green flag segment.
The race returned to green flag conditions on lap 47 and Allgaier had the Verizon Wireless Dodge in the seventh position. He radioed back into his team several laps later explaining the changes they made to the machine helped, but the No. 12 could stand a bit more work on the next stop as the car was still a tick tight.
When the caution flag was again displayed to the field on lap 93, the team readied itself for the final scheduled pit stop of the night. Allgaier made his way into the pit box two laps later for service. The team bolted on four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The crew also made both an air pressure and chassis adjustment to the machine trying to find the balance Allgaier was looking for.
Allgaier had his Verizon Wireless Dodge lined up in the seventh spot for the restart which came on lap 101. For the final 30 laps, Allgaier showed both patience as well as talent. The Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender knew he would have to not make any mistakes and keep his nose clean in order to bring home a solid finish. Allgaier handled himself like a seasoned veteran, taking advantage of opportunities to pass while avoiding trouble around him.
Allgaier and the Verizon Wireless Dodge took the checkered flag in the fifth spot. With his top-five performance, Allgaier gained three positions in the Nationwide Series point standings and now sits ninth overall.
“This is a true test for the guys on the Verizon Wireless team,” commented Allgaier after the strong run. “They did an awesome job all night, got us track position when we needed it and had a really good car. It’s been a great night. (The cars) really get strung out here and you’ve just got to race the racetrack and not the other cars and I think that’s what we did all night. We’ve got a great spotter up top keeping me going forward and that’s all it took. The guys on the Verizon Wireless Dodge did an awesome job all night.”
The No. 12 Verizon Wireless team gets a week off this week before returning to action at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in two weeks for the running of the Carquest Auto Parts 300. The race can be seen live on Saturday, May 23 on ESPN 2 with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The race can also be heard live on PRN Radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 128.
Justin Allgaier Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Statistics
Laps Led: 0