ALLGAIER AND BRANDT TEAM EXPERIENCE HEARTBREAK IN CALIFORNIA
Fontana, Calif. (March 24, 2012) – Justin Allgaier and the Brandt team were poised for a strong finish at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday afternoon in the Royal Purple 300. Instead they experienced disappointment after a cracked radiator caused an engine issue in the second half of the 150-lap event. Even after qualifying on the outside of the front row, leading a lap and running in the top-five nearly all afternoon, the team was saddled with a 32nd-place finish, exiting the race on lap 112. However, Allgaier remains ninth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) driver point standings.
After the series’ only practice on Friday afternoon, Allgaier and his Brandt team knew they had a strong car for Saturday’s race. Throughout the nearly two-and-a-half hour session, the team never dropped out of the top-six and finished second after a strong qualifying practice run. This fact was further reinforced after Allgaier put the Brandt Chevy on the front row for the Royal Purple 300, qualifying second, his highest starting spot of the young 2012 season. Through the first green-flag stop of the race, Allgaier never fell below the third position but radioed to his crew that the car was tight mid-way through and off of the corners. When crew chief Jimmy Elledge called his driver to pit road on lap 35, the team was prepared for the four-tire stop, making an air pressure adjustment and adding fuel. The Brandt crew made quick work of the stop, gaining their driver one spot on pit road. When the stops cycled out, Allgaier was scored in the second position.
By the race’s first caution flag of the afternoon on lap 57, Allgaier had dropped back to the third spot, but it was still evident that he was among the class of the field. Elledge called for a spring rubber adjustment, along with four tires and fuel, and even through the lengthy adjustment, the team still managed to get Allgaier out in the fourth position to take the lap-62 restart. Just six laps later, Allgaier was contending for the lead and led his first lap of the season on circuit 69. He continued to mix things up with the Nos. 6 and 18 cars as the trio fought intensely for the lead. Allgaier settled in to the second spot where he was scored when the caution came out on lap 91. Continuing to fine-tune on the car, Elledge instructed the Brandt crew to make a slight wedge adjustment, while changing four tires and adding fuel. Allgaier rejoined the field in the second spot, where he took the lap-96 restart.
The adjustments made Allgaier’s car go from tight- to loose-handling and he fell back to the fifth spot when the caution was shown to the field on lap 104. Elledge called his driver down pit road for what would be the final time of the afternoon. The team made a quick track bar adjustment and added fuel before sending Allgaier out in the fourth position for the lap-108 restart. Unfortunately, Allgaier radioed to his crew just four laps later that he was losing power and coasted the Brandt Chevy down pit road and to the garage where the team diagnosed the issue as terminal.
“What a frustrating day for this team,” Allgaier said after the race. “To have such a strong car all weekend, run as well as we did this afternoon and then have the engine issue there at the end was just so hard for everyone. The silver lining is that we know we continue to go in the right direction. It really was encouraging to run up front and lead a lap in our Brandt Chevy. Hopefully we can take what we learned into the off weekends we have coming up and then head to Texas ready to roll again.”
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series has the following two weekends off before heading to the “Lonestar State”, home to the mile-and-a-half track of Texas Motor Speedway for a Friday night race on April 13th.