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Top 10 countdown: No. 3, Justin Allgaier

Penske Racing driver Justin Allgaier won the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series last year. (Photo:

By Lee Montgomery

Driver: Justin Allgaier

Team: Penske Racing

Car: No. 12 Dodge

Crew chief: Chad Walter

Quick bio: Allgaier won the 2008 ARCA championship and was hired by Penske to drive part time in the Nationwide Series in 2009, but sponsor Verizon dictated a full-season effort. Allgaier won the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title last year and is ready for more in 2010.

Why he’ll finish third: Dodge has stepped up its involvement with Penske in the Nationwide Series, so Allgaier’s cars should be faster. Plus, Allgaier now has a full season under his belt and should be fast out of the gate this season.

Why he might finish higher: If Sprint Cup drivers Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski miss a race or two for whatever reason, Allgaier could be in the catbird seat for the 2010 championship. Either way, Allgaier should visit victory lane a few times this year.

Why he might finish lower: Not much was expected of Allgaier last year, and he surprised many by running as well as he did. Now, though, much more is expected of him. Can he live up to the pressure?