Bad Brake for AJ at Darlington
After getting a strong start to the weekend with the fastest lap of opening practice, and then taking 12th on the grid despite having to qualify first, the Darlington weekend was looking pretty good for AJ and the Insignia/Best Buy crew.
The No. 43 Ford had a solid start to the opening 100 laps in the Showtime Southern 500, with AJ keeping on the lead lap and avoiding the trouble that seemed to reach out and grab everyone early. But trouble lurked in another form as the 43 started to lose ground when the brakes started to fade.
AJ worked to drive around the problem as much as possible and fight to the finish as the team also looked to find the problem and fix it. The track, with the two different-radius corners at each end, demands a lot from the brakes to be fast and this was a critical issue.
Unfortunately, as a yellow flew, AJ became a second part of the yellow when his brakes failed completely and he was just a passenger in the Insignia car as he spun the machine to lose as much speed as possible, but the dirty apron sent him back up into the path of the pack as he made contact with the 48.
"We were having brake trouble the last 60 laps," said AJ in his television interview. "We came in that yellow and took all the brake cooling tape off. We aren't sure what was happening, we've had brake trouble the last few weeks. When that yellow came out, I hit the brakes and one of the rotors, I'm not sure which one, exploded so I had no brakes. I just tried to head to the bottom and miss everyone so I'm sorry to Jimmie and everyone at Hendrick for tearing up their stuff.
"I was out of brakes, and backwards, and just trying to miss everyone. I'm alright, just proud of everyone on this Insignia/Best Buy Ford team. WIthout the brake trouble we could have kept fighting to get the car better but I knew we were in trouble the last 50 laps without any brakes and that was just it."
Credit - www.ajallmendinger.com