After finishing 10th in the first road course race of the year at Road America in June, Justin Allgaier and the No. 31 Brandt Racing team headed to Watkins Glen International with hopes of another strong finish. After starting the Zippo 200 at The Glen from the eighth position, Allgaier collected his 14th top-10 of the season with a ninth-place finish. Allgaier remains in the fifth position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) point standings, 74 points behind leader Elliott Sadler.
Like most NNS competitors, Allgaier missed the first hour of Friday’s lone practice session as he waited for rain to move out of the area. He laid down the ninth fastest lap in his No. 31 Brandt Chevrolet utilizing rain tires, and later returned to the track on regular tires, finishing practice with the fourth-fastest time. His practice time placed him in the last qualifying group in Saturday morning’s qualifying session. He began the Zippo 200 at The Glen in the eighth position. Allgaier moved into sixth by the time the caution flag first waved on lap six.
After staying out under caution, Allgaier restarted the race in the sixth position. He hit the pits under green for his first pit stop on lap 19. After taking four tires and fuel, Allgaier returned to the track in 26th place as a result of stalling on pit road. When green-flag pit stops cycled through, Allgaier was back in the top-10. As the caution flag waved again on lap 28, Allgaier radioed to crew chief Jimmy Elledge that his car was really loose in a few turns but really tight everywhere else. Hoping to give Allgaier more side bite, Elledge elected to pit for four tires, fuel and adjustments to the No. 31 Brandt Chevrolet. Numerous cars did not pit under that caution, and Allgaier restarted in 14th place on lap 43.
A few laps later, Allgaier explained that his car was handling worse than before the adjustments. When the caution waved on lap 58, the No. 31 Brandt Chevrolet was running in the first position as many other cars had already made green-flag pit stops. He returned to pit road on lap 59 for four tires and fuel, and the No. 31 Brandt Racing team reversed the adjustments made on the previous stop. He restarted the race in 18th, and within five laps, Allgaier had worked back into the top-15.
Allgaier continued to navigate traffic and stay out of trouble through two cautions late in the race. On lap 81, Allgaier restarted in the 12th position. He immediately made up ground, moving into ninth before the race ended on the next lap. This was his best finish at Watkins Glen International and his 14th top-10 of the 2012 season.
“I don’t think ninth place is the finish we deserved, but I’m happy to get a top-10 here at Watkins Glen,” said Allgaier. “My team and our crew did a great job; things just didn’t line up the way we needed them to. However, we were able to have a good last restart and get out of here with a solid finish. I’m excited to head to Montreal next weekend and keep building on our road course program.”
Next Stop: Allgaier and the No. 31 Brandt team will head to Circuit Gilles Villenueve for the final road course race of the 2012 season. The NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge will air LIVE on ESPN with coverage beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Turner Motorsports PR