ALLGAIER NOTCHES SEASON-BEST FINISH IN FRONT OF HOMETOWN CROWD
JOLIET, Ill. (July 22, 2012) – Justin Allgaier and his BRANDT Racing team returned to Chicagoland Speedway with high hopes of repeating the efforts of last season’s attempt, namely a win in front of friends, family and hundreds of BRANDT guests. The team had two productive practice sessions on Saturday and logged a 16th-place qualifying effort on Sunday morning. Fortunately, the weather conditions, coupled with the strategy of crew chief Jimmy Elledge, combined for a solid conclusion to the STP 300 for Allgaier and team. After leading one lap and racing in the top-10 for the majority of the event, Allgaier scored his best finish of the 2012 season. The result was the Illinois-native’s third top-five and 12th top-10 of the year.
After the drop of the green flag, Allgaier immediately began his move toward the leaders and had cracked the top-10 by lap 13. He maintained position there through green-flag stops as well as the first caution of the afternoon on lap 51. Allgaier remained on track through the caution period, as he had just been in for service prior to the yellow flag. He took the lap-59 restart in the seventh spot.
Allgaier continued his march toward the lead cars and broke into the top-five on lap 62. While he radioed to the team that his BRANDT Chevy was really tight in the middle of the corners and lacking side bite, he was clicking off lap times similar to the leaders. He got up as high as the fourth position before the handling began to take its toll. The field once again began green-flag stops on lap 101, and Elledge called his driver down the pit lane at lap 107. He vacated the third position to come to the attention of his crew for a track bar and air pressure adjustment along with four fresh tires and fuel. When stops cycled through, Allgaier was scored in the seventh position and the field was shown the caution flag once again on lap 107. Just as before, Allgaier remained on track under yellow and restarted in seventh on lap 115.
The caution flag came out just 13 laps later and the BRANDT team took the opportunity to make another round of adjustments. Allgaier was still struggling with a tight-handling car and Elledge instructed the team to make track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments along with changing all four tries and adding fuel. Allgaier restarted in ninth on lap 132.
Another green-flag run ensued and the field began to peel off for what could potentially be their last stops of the day. Allgaier remained on track and after just about all of the lead-lap cars had made stops, only the BRANDT driver and Elliott Sadler remained at the head of the field. Elledge seemed prepared to make it a two-driver race to the end. Unfortunately, the plan was foiled as the caution flag came out on lap 167. Elledge called his driver to pit road one final time for another round of adjustments, as well as four fresh Goodyear tires and fuel. He restarted in the second spot on lap 172.
Again thinking the race would conclude under green-flag conditions, Allgaier continued to click off laps and chase down the leader. However, he was caught by the No. 6 car, and it appeared to be a three-man race to the checkers. But, the caution flag came out one more time, giving the BRANDT team new hope in one more shot to overtake the lead.
The field spent six laps under caution for clean-up and prepared to take the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. As the green flag fell, Allgaier was in the third position, directly behind the leader and immediately began to push him in an attempt to clear them both past the second-place car of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. The plan was working until the trio hit the backstretch of the final lap. It was then that Stenhouse caught Allgaier and the two battled neck-and-neck until coming out of turn four to take the checkers. Even though he was fighting with everything the car would give him, he crossed the start/finish line in third.
“Man, I wanted to get the win at Chicago, especially with all these BRANDT folks here to cheer us on,” Allgaier said after the race. “But I’m really excited with the progress we’ve continued to make as a team. We really didn’t necessarily have the best car here, but this team never gave up and the finish is a direct product of how awesome Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) is at calling the shots. He had a plan the entire time and just continued to mold it as the laps wore down. I really think we are hitting our stride and it’s a great time to do it. I’m excited to have qualified for the Dash4Cash finally, and I’d love to bring that home as well as a solid finish, from the Brickyard next weekend.”
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to the Midwest for a stop in Indianapolis next weekend. The series makes its first start at the famed Brickyard of Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 250. The Saturday afternoon race will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN at 4:00 p.m.