AJ Allmendinger returns to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. In February, Allmendinger became one of the sport's major stories as he used the help of Richard Petty Motorsports teammates Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson to qualify for the Daytona 500. Three days later he nearly won the sport's biggest race finishing a season-best third. Allmendinger hopes for a little less drama this weekend, but just as good of a finish as he drives the Petty team's No. 44 Paralyzed Veterans of America Dodge.
DAYTONA 500-- "Those days down there in February were torture. I mean it had so many ups and downs I felt like I was on a roller coaster. We finished fifth in the Budweiser Shootout, then we stunk in qualifying, we weren't that good in the 150s and barely made it in the show. Then, we were great in the Daytona 500. It was draining, but we were good when we really needed to be good."
SATURDAY'S RACE-- "I feel better going in to this race than I did the 500. Seriously, a lot of it comes down to luck and the way we've been going lately in the luck department we ought to have something miraculous happen sooner or later. Our cars have been fast but we end up getting caught in somebody else's problems. Saturday night, we will be fast again and if we can avoid whatever happens on the track I'm pretty confident we'll get another good finish."
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DAYTONA 500 AND THIS RACE-- "That's easy--the heat. Even though it is a night race it will be hot. The track will be slicker. Handling will be even more important. You might not see as big of a pack in the draft as you saw in February. But who knows. We'll just race and try to be there at the end."
* Allmendinger will sign autographs at his merchandise hauler at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Daytona.
* This race marks Allmendinger's 62nd start in Sprint Cup.
* Allmendinger is now a weekly columnist at www.racer.com
* Allmendinger will race chassis 285 on Saturday.
* This race marks the 25th anniversary of Richard Petty's 200th victory. The Paralyzed Veterans of America is running a tribute paint scheme in honor of the anniversary.
Credit: Richard Petty Motorsports