Mid-Race Pit and Late-Race Track Position Strategy Pays Off in 8th Place Las Vegas Finish for Justin Allgaier and Team
With Crew Chief Jimmy Elledge making a bold pit stop decision that gave his driver better track position halfway through Saturday afternoon’s Sam’s Town 300 race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, driver Justin Allgaier took over for the final 100 laps and forged his way to his first top ten finish of the 2012 season.
The #31 BRANDT/Northeastern Supply Chevrolet Impala came away with a solid, 8th place performance that also enabled Allgaier to nudge into the top ten in the 2012 Nationwide Series Championship Driver Points Standing for the first time after the third of this year’s 34 scheduled races.
Allgaier, who posted the 8th fastest time in Saturday morning qualifying, had worked his way into the top five just 24 laps into the running of Saturday’s race but still complained about a handling issue that made his Chevy Impala drive too loose in turns 3 and 4. A subsequent and really efficient pit stop under the race’s first caution flag for a wedge adjustment, fresh rubber and fuel on lap 26 put Allgaier’s race machine back onto the race track in 5th place when the event re-started on lap 30.
The adjustments ordered by Crew Chief Jimmy Elledge failed to correct the handling woes to Allgaier’s car, but the Little Gator refused to wilt and maintained a top five running position until another yellow flag flew on lap 42.
While most of the leaders stayed out on the track during this caution period, Elledge used the opportunity to bring Allgaier back into the pits to try and adjust the BRANDT Chevy further. The crew undid the previous changes made to the car and this time adjusted the track bar, sending Allgaier back onto the track in the 18th slot…the farther back in the field that Justin would run all day.
Over the next 50 laps, the #31 Impala edged forward and was running 11th when another caution flag was brought out just before halfway. All of the lead-lap cars pitted on lap 101 under yellow with Elledge ordering a fuel only stop this time and yet another track bar adjustment to the BRANDT Chevy in an effort to give Alllgaier even better track position.
When the race resumed lap 103, Justin was second on the grid and was able to remain in the top five through most of the remaining laps. Only a resumption of the handling woes through the same end of the race track that hindered Allgaier earlier in the race prevented Justin from earning his first top five finish of the season, but taking the checkered flag in 8th was an excellent consolation prize for him and Turner Motorsports’ BRANDT/Northeastern Supply team.
“We made some really good improvements today,” Allgaier said after the race.
“We needed a good, solid finish like this to build some momentum going into next week. Jimmy (crew chief Elledge) and the guys brought a great car for me this weekend. We just struggled a bit with being loose down in turns 3 and 4, but I’m excited though the rogress we made. Hopefully, we will continue to move up from here, especially heading into a place like Bristol (Motor Speedway) next weekend,” added Allgaier who moved into 9th place in Championship Driver Points.
Defending Nationwide Series Driving Champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. earned the victory in Las Vegas outrunning Brad Keselowski and point leader Elliott Sadler to the checkers.
Saturday afternoon’s FordECOBoost 300 at BMS is scheduled to get the green flag at 1 p.m. EDT with ESPN2 to televise the race live to the nation.