BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 14, 2010) – Justin Allgaier, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, overcame an ill-handling Verizon Dodge Challenger in the first half of Saturday’s Carfax 250 to record a track-best fourth-place finish at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
Allgaier’s sixth top-five finish of the 2010 season allows him to maintain the fourth position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings. With 23 of 35 races complete, Allgaier trails point leader and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski by 645 markers, and third place Kyle Busch by 142.
Allgaier recorded the 17th and 13th-fastest times, respectively, in Thursday’s open NASCAR Nationwide Series test sessions. The Riverton, Ill. native followed that up by posting the fourth-fastest time in Friday’s final practice. On Saturday morning, the two-time Nationwide Series pole winner ran a lap of 40.479 seconds, at an average speed of 177.870 mph, to earn the seventh starting position for the 125-lap feature.
The start of Saturday afternoon’s race was eventful for Allgaier, as he found himself involved in a three-wide battle for position during the opening laps. As the third-year driver struggled with a tight-handling condition, he made contact with the outside retaining wall on the second lap. The damage sustained in the incident worsened the handling of his Verizon Dodge Challenger, but skilled driving and help from spotter Chris Osborne helped Allgaier minimize the damage as he settled into the 13th position.
As the first half of the race ran under green-flag conditions, Allgaier’s Dodge continued to struggle with a tight-handling condition. Crew chief Chad Walter called for adjustments that helped loosen Allgaier’s No. 12 car, and flawless work by the Verizon crew helped the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year advance to the fifth position at lap 80.
As the race neared the conclusion, the race leaders began hitting pit road for the final time under green-flag conditions. Walter left Allgaier on track until lap 106, allowing the Verizon driver to lead two laps before coming to pit road for the team’s scheduled service. Air pressure adjustments to the right-side tires gave Allgaier what he needed to make one final run at the race leaders, but in the closing laps a spirited battle with Busch allowed the race leaders to surge ahead, leaving Allgaier in the fourth position when the checkered flag waved.
“It was great day for the Verizon Dodge guys,” said Allgaier. “This new Dodge Challenger was just awesome. I’m glad to be out there running it, and I’m happy that Brad was able to get Dodge to Victory Lane. I know that’s something that they really wanted to do with this new car. They built a heck of a car with this Dodge Challenger. It was just a rough day for us. We got into the fence early in the race and had to come back from that all day. We had great pit stops and great call calls on the pit box. It was one of the most fun races that I’ve ever been in. Our Dodge Challengers we’re just awesome.”
Next weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway, where Allgaier scored the most-recent Nationwide Series victory, for the Food City 250. Live coverage of the race will be carried on ESPN Saturday evening, August 21 beginning at 7 p.m. EDT.