Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Penske Racing Press Conference Transcript

An Interview With:

MERRILL CAIN: Good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us on this special Penske Racing media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain with Penske Racing, and we were excited to make the announcement earlier today that AJ Allmendinger has joined Penske Racing and he will take over as driver of the No. 22 Shell‑Pennzoil Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012. It’s certainly an exciting announcement for AJ and for Penske Racing, and we're happy to be joined today by AJ as well as Penske Racing President, Tim Cindric. Thanks for joining us today.

We'll start out with just a general comment from both AJ and Tim. AJ, we'll start with you. Congratulations and welcome to Penske Racing.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: It's my pleasure. I'm looking forward to it. Thank you.

MERRILL CAIN: Coming off the best of your five seasons in the Cup Series where you finished 15th in the championship, driving the 43 car this year, this move to the No. 22 Shell‑Pennzoil Dodge presents a great career opportunity for you. Can you talk about joining the Penske team and how you plan to approach the 2012 season? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I think for me with my background and where I've come from, Roger Penske and just Penske Corporation as a race team, as a business, the way he goes about just taking care of his guys, everything that goes along with that, it's been the pinnacle. I've always wanted to drive for Mr. Penske, so it's something that when the opportunity arose, I was ‑‑ I jumped right at it. It's something that I have always dreamed of, and I just feel like the way he runs his organization, the way he takes care of his people is first‑class and top‑notch. So that's something that I wanted to be a part of.

As you said, the last five years I feel like I've made good progression throughout each year, and this is hopefully going to allow me to take the next step of my career and really contend for race wins and try to make the Chase. That's the ultimate goal, and really contend for a championship. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity with Shell‑Pennzoil and AAA and all the sponsors that go along with it. To give me this chance has just been amazing. It's been quick. It's happened real fast, but I'm ready to go.

So going into next year, obviously we've got a short amount of time with how late this is all happening. I met (crew chief) Todd Gordon and everybody and just trying to make sure that I get to the shop as much as possible here over the next six weeks and get in the car and get ready for it. I'm ready to go. 

MERRILL CAIN: Tim, I know the team is very excited to bring AJ on board for next year, and we know it's been a bit of a whirlwind over the past couple of weeks as the team has gone through this process. Can you just discuss how the opportunity with AJ developed and what you expect to see from the No. 22 team in 2012? 

TIM CINDRIC: Well, obviously since Homestead, there's been a lot of things going on within the organization, To go through and have a different crew chief and a different driver going into next year when it really wasn't the plan starting the year. I think number one I appreciate the patience of everyone to get to this day because for Penske Racing and Roger, we certainly wanted to be sure that we felt like we made the right decision, and sometimes you need more time to try and understand what the landscape looks like. 

That's really what we've been doing the past month or so is just trying to understand what the landscape was. We tried to do our due diligence and really understand where we were headed and what the different alternatives were, and you never like to see a situation like what occurred there with the 43 program. And the Petty organization is top‑notch and they've been first‑class and working through some of their difficulties. Obviously it's become some positives for our organization, but you never want to see it turn out that way. At the same time with the support of Shell-Pennzoil and Dodge and AAA and the rest of our partners as well as our employees, the patience that everybody has had to come to today is very much appreciated, and hopefully it pays off in 2012.

MERRILL CAIN: Now let's open it up and we'll take some questions. 

Q. AJ talk about this a little bit. Since you've come to NASCAR you've never had the stability that this opportunity offers you. With Red Bull there was no plans, with RPM obviously the financial issues. How big of a relief is this for you personally? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, I mean, one of the biggest things that I've wanted in a race team is stability. Just going through the process and the things that we've had to go through to get to this point and the things that I've been up against basically my whole five years in the Sprint Cup Series, leads me to this point – to find an organization that has stability, and obviously the whole Penske organization has a ton of stability and great sponsors. Walking through the shop, just the way everything is laid out and presented is absolutely amazing and something I'd never seen before.

To get this opportunity is ‑‑ I know where I'm at and the level of my career – and it's do or die. This is the next step to try to be one of those top Sprint Cup drivers, and that's what I want to do. I feel like this is going to be the best place to do it, and just the way this organization is laid out is absolutely amazing. 

I'm excited. Walking through the shop for the first time and looking at some of the cars and meeting some of the people, just how positive everybody is at this race team is something that is – it just makes me feel good showing up to it. 

And to have Mr. Penske, just his accolades and who he is as a person, to want me to drive his race cars just gives me more confidence than I've ever had. I'm really looking forward to kind of going through this process and getting to Daytona. 

Q. AJ, can you talk about going from the moment where you were celebrating the holidays with Richard Petty Motorsports to now, some of the things you went through to get here? And Tim Cindric, can you talk about how much you think you have to make up or how far off this team is signing up a new crew chief and a driver, how quickly you think you have to pull it all together or what you think you might have or not leading into the start of the season? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, it's been a difficult process. I never expected when we left Homestead that everything that has happened to get to this point would happen. It was a tough decision. It wasn't something that for me it was easily made. I love the race team, my guys over at Richard Petty Motorsports, and just felt like we've built such good chemistry over the last four to five months of the season, to get to this point was a tough challenge. 

But at the same point, looking at an organization and where I'm going and the people that surround it also made the decision a little bit easier because I knew that this was a great place to be. 

I feel like it was just so quick that it happened, I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around it. But for me, I feel like there's no better place to be than here. As tough as the decision was to make, I'm happy to be here. Richard and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports has been so kind and they've done so much for my career, and to this point helping to even get me over here was something that they were first‑class the whole time. 

It's been a challenge in the last couple of days, but it's been really good, and I'm ready. I'm excited and I'm ready to go. 

TIM CINDRIC: From the team's perspective, certainly any time your driver and your crew chief are different for the next year, you have a lot to put together in a very short amount of time, especially when it's almost the holidays. But I think the fortunate thing we have as an organization is the group that he's walking into and that he and Todd are going to work with have been within the organization five or six years together, the majority of them. So there's a very solid foundation there that's been here and that knows how we operate. 

I think that AJ is really going to lean on Brad (Keselowski) to try and understand what it takes to move into this organization and be successful, and I think Brad is committed as a teammate to help him get up to speed as soon as possible because he's certainly shown that he's committed to making that happen. There's really no better place to do that than Daytona where you've got to work together from the beginning. 

I think that, yeah, there's challenges there for sure, but I think there's a solid foundation and a lot of continuity that he's walking into. 

Q. My question is for Tim: Why did you choose AJ over some of the other drivers that were available? What's the appeal that AJ Allmendinger brings to your race team? 

TIM CINDRIC: That's a good question. There were a lot of quality drivers there, and in fairness, it's real hard to sit there and say, how do you take, with Kurt's accolades and a past champion, and compare what was there at this point in the season or this point in the year. That certainly is a challenge. And we had to look at – I guess the word potential is what continues to come up. I think that we considered virtually everybody that was out there and made sure that we did our due diligence to try and understand if there was anything in the landscape that we didn't know or that wasn't obvious. 

AJ, he was someone that we had talked to over the years. Obviously he's been in the garage area and we know him. But he really wasn't somebody that we considered until really almost the 11th hour. I guess there was noise about the fact that they might not be able to make things work (at RPM). And when we sat down and looked at the guys that were available and AJ – the on‑track performance, if you look at it, there's nobody there that has a better progression through his career. When you look at the slope of the curve there with the way his statistics are, certainly no one has that type of, I guess, slope if you want to call it that. 

And obviously we had to sit down and see if he was a good fit for our organization. You can only do so much of that over the phone and in meetings in a short period of time. But really you have to go with your gut and you have to go with what you think will create the right chemistry internally. 

Brad spent some time talking to him to try and understand how they would work as far as teammates, and obviously all that is yet to be seen. But those are things that weighed into that decision. 

Q. AJ, as far as working with Brad, how much do you know Brad, and do you guys have a friendship in the garage area? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I'll be honest, I don't know Brad that well yet. We've always been cordial and talked to each other at driver intros and kind of around the garage or in the bus lot just a little bit here and there, so I've never had a problem with him. But the biggest thing for me is I look at Brad and he's a true racer. He's come up from a racing family. He's worked hard to get to this point. And something that I saw, which was pretty amazing, was the middle of the year where he was at to the end of the year and how much him and this organization stepped up their game and really worked well together and made their race cars better. 

That's kind of where I look at where I am right now. I need to make that next step, and Brad – and it is difficult in the middle of the year – did that, and became a championship contender really quick. 

That’s the stuff that I'm going to lean on him and learn from and figure out what he did and the ways he went about getting to that point. And as Tim said, he leads this organization right now, so I've got to come in here and learn from him. He's an easy guy to get along with it seems, just like I feel like I am, and I think the pairing is going to be really good. I look forward to working with him, and the biggest thing was, as Tim said, I spoke to him a little bit about what he wanted as a teammate and things that he looks at this organization that are strong, where they need to be stronger and just how hard he works to get to that point. 

I'm the same way. I'm going to be here every day that I can and work just as hard as he is to try to get myself to the next level and get the organization to the next level. I'm looking forward to it. 

Q. AJ, you hit on this a little bit at the very beginning talking about kind of having the stability with this team, but what does this do for you in terms of perhaps the confidence you have that a Roger Penske has hired you and the fact that this is such a strong organization that perhaps for the first time in your NASCAR career you can just go out there and let's see if you're ready to win? I'm assuming you probably feel like you probably are. Can you talk about that? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, to have Mr. Penske personally want you to drive his race car is a thing that for me gives me a lot of confidence. It's the same thing as when Richard Petty asked me to come drive his car. It gives you a lot of confidence when you have somebody with that background and with the accolades and everything that they've went through in their lives to make their organizations where they're at. It gives me a lot of confidence. 

But at the same point I know there's a lot of pressure there. I'm not blind to the pressure with Shell‑Pennzoil and with the organization and what they're used to, having their ideas about winning. I know there's a lot of pressure there to go out there and perform, but for me if I didn't feel like I could do that I'd just be wasting everybody's time and then I wouldn't be here. I feel like I'm at that level to take that next step and be a winner and be a championship contender, and obviously this organization showed that this year that they can do that. 

For me it's something that – there’s a lot of confidence, but I know the pressure is there, and I'm ready to take it on. This is going to be my best chance I've ever had in the Sprint Cup Series to go out there and perform, and I'm ready to do that. 

Q. You guys have made a couple references to how quick this all happened. Can you detail
exactly how quick it did happen as far as when was the first time you talked or made contact or anything like that? 

TIM CINDRIC: I'd have to go back and try and understand the past 48 hours to give you a detailed minute by minute. From A.J.'s perspective, it's certainly been a situation in which he knew that a lot of things were really centered around whether or not his existing team could put a program together. You know, as far as putting a deal together, that's all transpired in the last 24 hours at the most. The rest of it was just the same noise that you guys have heard and him really trying to find out what their direction was within the 43 program. All that happened in a very short period of time. 

Q. And then I understand this is a one‑year deal. What are the expectations as far as whether the relationship would continue? Does AJ need to make the Chase or need to win races or anything like that that you feel you need to see from him to keep going in 2013? 

TIM CINDRIC: I'm not sure where you heard it was a one‑year deal or who said that. But from our perspective, any of these programs as we look at them – this is a performance business. Within every organization I think you set up gates and different areas that you have to get through from a performance perspective. As AJ said, there's a lot of things that really weigh into that decision, and for us we want nothing more than to go forward on a long‑term basis and have the two guys we have drive for us for a long time. 

We're not going to get into exactly what all those gates are, but his program is certainly set up for the long‑term, and if we realize our potential, I think he'll be our driver for more than one year. We just need to continue to build on the successes we had before and ensure that we can give he and Brad the kind of equipment that they need to run up front, and I think the rest of it will take care of itself. 

Q. AJ, what I want to find out from you is you may not have even thought of this yet, but what it's going to be like pulling into Indianapolis Motor Speedway and you're the driver of a Penske Dodge? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, it's ‑‑ I'll be honest, pulling into any racetrack driving a Penske Dodge, I'm going to be pretty excited about it. Obviously Indy has got a rich history of Mr. Penske winning a lot of races there. That's going to be pretty special when we get to that point, but I've got plenty of races before that to be smiling every time I pull into the racetrack. 

I'm ready to get to Daytona right now. We've got a lot of hard work over the next six weeks to go out there, and obviously with the test coming up here in a couple weeks, it's so quick. So we've got a lot of things to work on and figure out and build on before we get to Daytona. 

But I'm going to be smiling showing up to the racetrack every weekend. This is what I love to do, and if I wasn't smiling, I shouldn't be driving race cars. It's going to be pretty special, and to have Mr. Penske just around the racetrack talking to me, just being able to be around him, like I said, for me it's more of an honor to drive for him. I love the history of racing in general, and obviously Mr. Penske has a rich history in racing. It's going to be just fun being at the racetrack, being a part of his organization, and being around him more than anything. That's something I really look forward to. 

Q. And since this is so late in the going, there's a lot you need to do between you and the start of the season. Can you maybe tell fans what's on your plate in terms of behind‑the‑scenes stuff that goes on? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, I just came to the shop for the first time, and first things first is not get lost in the shop. The thing is huge. I'm going to need a map to figure out even where to pull into the place. That's going to be the first thing. Then make sure that I have my seats set in the race car. That's always a big thing for a race car driver. 

Ultimately there's a lot, and there's a lot of stuff that we're not going to get done before the start of the season. I'm going to have to learn everybody's name and get fitted in the race cars, but the most important thing for me right now is just get comfortable in the cars when we go test them, to really learn Todd, and with him being new to the Cup Series and us working together and not having a lot of time, especially with the holiday season. Then just trying to get my core group of guys that I'm going to be working with and try to get to know them and just become friends with them. Because I think the biggest thing I look at, I'm a guy that wants to be friends with all my crew guys, the guys around me, the race team. I feel like if we can become close like that it's only going to make the race team stronger. 

I think those are the initial things going into the test and going into Daytona we need to work on. But it's going to be a long process. We're not going to be where we want to be going into Daytona because it's such a short process we've got to go through to get there. But it's going to be fun, though. That's what I really look at. It's going to be a lot of fun, and that's what I'm excited about. 

Q. AJ, did you have any time to talk to Todd Gordon yet, and have you guys kind of shared philosophies of racing? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, just very little. It's been a crazy day so far. He seems like an easy‑going guy. Obviously he's got a lot of talent. He did a great job in the Nationwide Series this past year.
I know that when it comes to talent level, he's going to be a great guy to work with. But yeah, I mean, we've just had small talks. I'm going to be in the shop tomorrow before everybody takes off and try to spend a full day with him and start going over things. The way I look at it is, both race cars here this past year have ran really well, so I'm not coming in with any preconceived idea what I want in the race car. I'm there to listen, kind of get my ideas of what I feel and what I like, but just try to fit into the system, and that's what I'm going to try to do. 

The biggest thing is just learning Todd and trying to build a relationship with him as quickly as possible. We started that process a little bit today. We'll do a lot more of that tomorrow, and then as the season starts, with the new year, I'll be in here a lot, and that will be the process. 

Q. For Tim, will Todd and AJ and the 22 car have the opportunity to test before the season starts, or is Daytona just kind of jumping into the deep end? 

TIM CINDRIC: Daytona for sure. Obviously there's an open test coming up there in January that you guys all know is on the calendar. But beyond that, really I think tomorrow is the first day for the two of them to sit down and try and figure out where they want to go. It's really an open book for them to decide where to spend our time and our resource to get him prepared for whatever he feels like his weaknesses are going into the first race. 

Q. And did AJ's open-wheel background have any influence on your final decision? 

TIM CINDRIC: I guess the influence it had is he's a proven winner. Although not in the Cup Series, it takes a certain process, it takes a certain edge, it takes a certain level of confidence to have the accolades that he had all the way from the beginning of his open-wheel career through to the point where he went stock car racing. 

Each one of these guys that we talked to or we looked at, we considered all their different situations, and really it was amazing his process from getting out of the open-wheel cars or the Champ Car into a truck and right into the Sprint Cup program and just bypassing Nationwide. All across the board I think he said he had about 50 laps of time in a stock car when he had to go run the Daytona 500. 

When you take all those things into consideration, for us, we know that he's somebody that knows how to win, and I guess that's the biggest thing that that whole open-wheel background had. 

Q. Tim, feel free to name names if you'd like, or if you don't that's okay. How long was your short list of candidates? 

TIM CINDRIC: I think you guys had them all picked. We considered everybody. There were a lot of calls and a lot of people that deserved a chance, put it that way. But we really had to look at who was the right one for the situation that we have. I'm a big believer in chemistry and trying to find the right chemistry, and I think that's what Brad has found with Paul. We need to continue to try and figure out how to make that work internally. 

Certainly the ones that ‑‑ if you look at the top three that everybody talked about, before AJ came onto the scene, it was David, it was Brian and it was the guys that I think were, I guess, ones ‑‑ when I say three, I've got AJ in my mind. But those guys, Reutimann, Vickers, Ragan and AJ, those guys are the ones that you look at the statistics and you look at who's running week in and week out, they were the obvious ones that we needed to consider. But there were others, as well, and some were in more complicated situations and others were up‑and‑comers that certainly will get a chance in the Cup Series. 

But I think that as far as the list, it was quite long, and we sat down internally and just looked to make sure we weren't missing anything. 

Q. AJ, you mentioned how you didn't leave Homestead expecting to leave Richard Petty Motorsports. When was the moment you realized you weren't going to be back with them? Was it the Best Buy deal falling through or was there another point where you began to realize your next year was not going to be with them? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, I think it's been really quick. As Tim said, it's really only been a few days that it's happened, and obviously the Best Buy deal at RPM was something that it might have been the final straw at that point. But honestly, it really kind of – when the rumors all started last week about Kurt, that kind of threw like a red flag up in my mind about what was happening. But just like anything, they're rumors, and it really wasn't until the last few days that this has all kind of come to a head and really had a chance of happening. 

As I said, I mean, two weeks ago – there was no thought in my mind. There was no difference. It's really just been a few‑day process. 

Q. Tim, Penske Racing kind of as a whole, in the second half of the season it looked like the team perhaps was performing at an all‑time best in terms of being competitive week to week. Both drivers had a chance to win every week. Was that the feeling on the inside, that you guys were getting very, very close to where you wanted to be? 

TIM CINDRIC: I think you hit it exactly on the head. And regardless of what type of racing it is, when you can show up at the racetrack and the guys feel like they have a chance to win that week, and Roger talks about it all the time, he says, as long as I feel like I'm competitive and I can show up at the racetrack thinking one of my cars might win today, that's what drives us. 

You're right. Midway through the season, from that point on, Brad and Kurt really built off of each other, and Steve (Addington) and Paul (Wolfe) were putting cars together, and the guys were really clicking as far as showing up at the racetrack and us thinking that we had a chance to qualify up front and we had a chance to win the race. And really that's the definition of, in our minds, when you think you start to have it right, and then it just becomes a question of who executes the best at that point in time. 

Q. Tim, is the expectation that AJ will be able to come right in and pick up where the team left off? Or are you expecting a period of transition? 

TIM CINDRIC: Well, I think you have to be realistic, and I think we have to hit singles in the beginning before we can worry about hitting the doubles and triples and the home runs. There's no, I guess, preconceived notion that we're going to walk into this thing and just hit the ground running. We're going to have to work toward it. If that happens, great, but I think we have to be realistic in the fact that, as I said before, we're replacing a world‑class driver, and we're trying to figure out how we get to that next level. AJ said it himself; he wants to be somebody that's a Chase contender and a championship contender, but before you can contend for a championship you have to be in the Chase. I think we have to set our goals realistically to make sure we're within striking distance the first dozen races or so and then start to build on the various relationships that will occur at that point in time. 

I think we have to take a step at a time. Basically we're going to have to walk here a little bit before we run. 

Q. AJ how does this opportunity make you better, and how can you make this team better? Of your experiences in the past five years, what do you take into this and how do you make this organization better and showcase your skills even more? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think it gives me a great chance to make myself better. It's a great organization, and the cars were fast middle of the ‑‑ beginning of the year on really and just kept getting better it seemed like. I know for me I'm coming into a race team that's got a lot of momentum, an organization that's got a lot of momentum from a great solid year. So I feel like the race cars are going to be pretty good. It's more about myself and Todd and the race team gelling, and the quicker we can do that, the better we can be early on. 

And really when the season starts, you've just got to be solid to start the season. You can't put yourself in a hole. So I think that's going to be a big thing for us is just to try to gel together as quick as possible. 

And for myself to try to make the organization better, I think it's just about just fitting in, about coming in with a good attitude and just being a part of the process and trying to help the race team get better by doing that and just trying to fit in. And I think this is an organization that is all about being humble and being loyal and everybody kind of working together to reach the same process, which is to go win races. 

I feel like maybe I bring a couple of different ideas in with what I've gone through to get to this point and what I've learned from other race teams and other crew chiefs, things like that. But ultimately I think the best way to make this organization better is to work well with Brad, have two teammates that are really happy working together and just really work together with the team to reach the pinnacle, and that's win races. If we can do that, I don't see why I can't come in and help make the team better. 

Q. AJ, I talked to you at the PRI trade show in Orlando on December 3rd and you mentioned in the last couple weeks you didn't have any idea you were about to have a sponsor go and a new job arrive. Your confidence level is right back up there. Could you kind of talk about the roller coaster that you kind of went through in the last 17 days? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: It wasn't really the last 17 days, it was more the last couple of days. That was something that as we spoke there at the PRI show, we were talking about going into 2012 and working to make the 43 a lot better and working with Greg Erwin. It was really the last couple of days that this has kind of occurred. For me it's easy to keep my confidence when Mr. Penske wants you to drive his race cars and come to his organization. I think that makes ‑‑ for me at least it makes myself be able to look in the mirror and wake up in the morning and feel confident knowing that such a guy like Mr. Penske and everything that he's had as race teams and all the great drivers that he's ever had in his lifetime basically, to have him come to me and say, hey, I want you to drive my race car, that gives me all the confidence I need right there. He knows talent when he sees it, and if he thinks I have enough talent to be a part of his organization, that's all I need right there. 

Q. And as far as your confidence goes, over the past years, you seemed to overcome a lot of learning curves and really kind of move up. How has that affected you? 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, I mean, I've had to go through a lot to stay in the sport, so when something like this happened over the last few days, it's something that I haven't ever experienced. It's something that for me it's natural. For me every year has come up to where going into the off‑season we've had to work hard to find a ride or keep a ride or figure out what's going to happen. It's just the nature of this sport; sometimes it can be cruel, but in the end, it's the attitude I've always had. You can either do two things with it: You can keep going and work harder to stay in the sport or you can just give up, and I'm a guy that's never going to give up. It's almost ‑‑ the stuff that's happened over the last five years, it doesn't even surprise me anymore. 

It was no surprise, and I know I have good people working around me. Something for me, it didn't affect me like it did over the last couple of years. I've kind of gotten used to it, and like I said, the biggest deal was to have Mr. Penske call you and say, hey, I'd like you to be part of this organization. That makes it a lot easier just to not stress over it. 

Q. Tim, we haven't really mentioned Shell‑Pennzoil here. What do they want as a sponsor after what they just went through? Did AJ have an interview with them? AJ didn't really talk about them but neither did you, Tim. Did they want something specific for a driver and what are they thoughts and did they interview AJ? 

TIM CINDRIC: That's a good question. It's been difficult in the way it's all come about because obviously until he came onto the scene there was a bit different process that was going through. Thorough isn't the right word, but the amazing thing with the Shell‑Pennzoil relationship is that that partnership in one year has ‑‑ I guess there's so much trust that's developed, and obviously we've gone through the highs and we've gone through the lows together, and when it came down to this decision, obviously it had to be made in a pretty quick fashion once AJ became available. 

So it was really a matter of phone calls and trust and us sitting down with them really talking about, okay, here's who we've talked to, here's how we've approached it, here's what we recommend, and at the end of the day, they want someone that's going to represent them in the winner's circle and someone that's going to represent them away from the racetrack in the right ways. 

We had to sit down and think real hard about how to really think about what that all means, because again, you're not going to replace Kurt Busch on the racetrack with anybody out there right now that has those kind of statistics and those kind of numbers. It's just not going to happen. At that point in time you really have to look at where the potential lies, and that potential has to be engaging on and off the racetrack and that potential has to be somebody that's really proved that they can win to whatever extent that their career has put it. 

We've had a chance to talk with some of the representatives there, but not nearly to the extent that you would hope at this point in time when you're coming to this kind of decision. So there's a bit of faith there on both sides that we've done the right things and that it works out the right way, because the last thing any of us want is to be sitting here at the end of next year talking about who the driver of the 22 is going to be. We really needed to look at it and ensure we made the right choice. 

I think the thing is that sitting here, we all came to the same conclusion: That there's a lot of talented people out there, a lot of really good guys, but this is the guy we need to go with. 

MERRILL CAIN: That'll wrap up today's Penske Racing media teleconference. Thanks everybody and enjoy your holidays.
Credit - Penske Racing PR

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fan Photo Winner

Michael Peddle shows off his prizes for winning the first ever Dinger Fan Photo Contest. Congrats again, Mike.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homestead Race Recap

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
  • AJ Allmendinger started in the 12th position for the 267-lap event at Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Allmendinger finished the race in the 15th position at the 1.5-mile track
  • Unofficially, Allmendinger finished the season in 15th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
Race Summary: AJ Allmendinger lined up for the start of the final event of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in the 12th position. Rain showers caused a brief delay right after the start of the race, but cleared up quickly. During the delay, Allmendinger let his Best Buy Racing team know that the No. 43 Ford Fusion was loose on the bottom of the track and free off of the corners up top. A pit stop on Lap 15 of the 267-lap event enabled Crew Chief Greg Erwin to call for a track bar adjustment, fuel and four fresh tires before sending Allmendinger back out on the track in the 25th position for the Lap 22 restart.

Allmendinger communicated to his crew that the changes made to the car had helped the handling and at the Lap 57 mark, the Best Buy Ford held down 13th place. At Lap 68, the driver relayed to the crew that the car had become free in the corner and tight in the center. Erwin made a track bar adjustment during the next stop, which came 10 laps later. The crew bolted on fresh right side tires during a Lap 85 stop and almost immediately, Allmendinger let his team know that two tires were not the way to go and that the car was no longer handling to his liking.

More rain showers blanketed the area just past the Lap 100 mark, which resulted in NASCAR officials throwing the red flag. After a delay of over an hour, drivers were called back to their cars and the red flag was withdrawn at Lap 111. Allmendinger made a quick pit stop for four tires, fuel, air pres­sure changes and a track bar adjustment before lining up for the Lap 116 restart in 16th place. Patiently making his way toward the front of the field, the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford moved into the Top 10 near Lap 150. Running as high as eighth place, Allmendinger communicated to Erwin that the car was the best it had been all day.

Strategy came into play when the caution was displayed once again for rain with 54 laps remaining in the event. Running 13th when it began to rain, Erwin opted to leave his driver out on the track when many of the leaders pitted in an effort to pick up track position. That decision moved Allmend­inger into third place. A four-tire stop at Lap 229 relegated the team back to 20th place, however, when the green flag flew for the restart on Lap 231. Not long after the restart, Allmendinger relayed to the crew that the Best Buy Ford was extremely tight. Able to pick up several positions in the closing laps, Allmendinger took the checkered flag in the 15th spot.

After posting a career-best season that included one Top-Five and 10 Top-10 finishes, AJ Allmendinger picked up one spot in the final race of the season and finished the 2011 campaign in 15th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Homestead Post-Race Quotes

AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
Finished 15th
“It’s a little bit sad. We accomplished our goal being top 15 in points, but I want so much more though. It’s one of those things that they deserve a little bit more and I wish I’d given it to them. We’ve got some stuff to work on in the winter. We know that. I love working with Greg because he’s helped me so much. I know I still have a ways to go. We’re making steps and we know the areas we need to work on. I wish I could have won for them, but we’ll get them next year.”


MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion
Finished 39th
“We had some engine issues. We’ve been so reliable all year. We haven’t had a DNF, so to come down to the last race and maybe not finish is gonna be pretty gut-wrenching, but we’re gonna see if we can get it back out there and maybe just do one more lap. It’s a bad way to finish the season, but we’ve had a great year and really wanted to finish on a high note.”

HAS THIS SEASON BEEN A SUCCESS IN YOUR MIND? “Oh, yeah. You can’t reflect on one race and feel bad about this season. We’ve had a great year and I’m looking forward to 2012 and making it better.”

Credit - Ford Racing

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homestead Qualifying Quotes

AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
Qualified 12th
“That was okay. We struggled a little bit today with the Best Buy Ford. We’ve kind of struggled with getting into the corner and I’ve really struggled to run the top. I think the top is the faster way to go, but I can’t get there right now. It was a solid lap. You can always pick it apart and say it was a little bit better, but we’re working hard. This hasn’t been the best day for us, but Greg Erwin and all the guys are working hard. Hopefully, that gets us a decent starting spot because it’s a long race on Sunday.”


MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion
Qualified 18th 
“I just didn’t know what line to take. I went a bit higher than what I probably should have, but we’ll take it. I’ve just got to thank Ford Racing for putting on this huge show here. It’s great to finish here at the big Ford event. We’ve got Carl with a chance to win, Ford as well, and I’m real excited about it. With Stanley and DeWalt, it’s just been a ripper year. It’s been fantastic to drive with the King and I just want to thank all of my boys and Todd Parrott on the box. It’s been a really strong effort for us.”

Credit - Ford Racing

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homestead Race Preview

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion

• AJ Allmendinger has made three starts at Homestead–Miami Speedway
• Allmendinger enters the weekend in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
• Allmendinger’s best finish (fifth) at the 1.5-mile track came in last year’s season finale at Homestead.

Allmendinger on Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway: “I’m excited to be going to Homestead. I’ve always run really well at that track. I’ve got three finishes of 11th-place or higher there, and I’m really looking forward to going back this weekend. We had a great run in Phoenix last weekend and I know Greg (Erwin) and the whole Best Buy team have worked really hard to give me a great race car this weekend that will be capable of winning. I can’t think of a better way to end my season than to get my first Cup Series win, and I think I’ve got a real shot at it this weekend.”

Crew Chief Greg Erwin’s Thoughts on Homestead-Miami Speedway: “Homestead is a tricky place to get around. It has multiple grooves, which makes it a great place for drivers to get their cars working on the top and bottom of the race track. Having multiple racing grooves makes it an exciting race for the fans to watch. Tire “give up” is high, similar to some of the older racetracks we go to and a good long run can make a big difference. The Ford engine has performed very well at the intermediate tracks this year, and I expect the fans will see a great championship battle this weekend. AJ has a terrific average finish at Homestead and I think his confidence is growing every week. Everybody here at RPM would love to see AJ get his first Cup series win at Homestead this weekend. The winner will carry a lot of momentum into the 2012 season and we are going to try really hard to get that Best Buy Ford in Victory Lane at the end of the day on Sunday.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team has prepared chassis No. 783 for this weekend’s event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This Best Buy Ford Fusion was run previously this season at Chicago and Charlotte.

Notes: Allmendinger has three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway and has finished inside the top-15 in all three events at the 1.5-mile track. Allmendinger enters Homestead in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings. He has completed 100 percent of laps (801) attempted at the track and has an average finish of 8.1.

Allmendinger will have a different look this weekend as Best Buy will return as the primary partner on the No. 43 Ford Fusion for the final race of the 2011 season.

Don’t miss out on your chance to meet The Dinger! AJ will be appearing at the Best Buy store in Miami, Fla. (10760 NW 17th Street, Miami, Fla. 33172). The appearance is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17, from 5-7 p.m. ET and is open to the public.

Can’t get enough of AJ? The Dinger will visit the Ford Display at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday at 1:30 p.m. ET for a 15 minute Q-and-A session.

The last of 12 Best Buy “Re-Tailgate” events will occur Sunday. A combination of 100 premiere Best Buy customers and Best Buy employees will be invited to a private tailgating event. The guests will get the opportunity to meet Allmendinger, and attendees will be given a pit tour before enjoying the race from their grandstand seats.

Allmendinger will be running a special decal on the decklid of the No. 43 this weekend to commemorate Dale Inman’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and eight championships as a crew chief.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Phoenix II Race Recap

No. 43 WIX Filters Ford Fusion
  • AJ Allmendinger started from the front row for the 312-mile event at Phoenix International Raceway
  • Allmendinger finished in the race in the sixth position at the one-mile track
  • Unofficially, Allmendinger sits in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
Race Summary: AJ Allmendinger started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event from the outside of the front row and the second-place starting effort was the fourth of the season for the No. 43 team. A quick caution just three laps after the green flag flew gave Allmendinger the opportunity to relay to his team how slick the track was before restarting on Lap 6 in the fifth position.

Allmendinger moved into the fourth spot at Lap 31 and communicated to the team that the No. 43 WIX Filters Ford Fusion was handling pretty well except for being a tick tight in the center of the corners. Allmendinger drove down pit road to the attention of his crew during the scheduled competition caution at Lap 42 and Crew Chief Greg Erwin called for fresh left side tires and fuel during the stop. The No. 43 machine restarted in seventh place, and by Lap 69, Allmendinger had driven into second.

Allmendinger battled a bit of a tight condition for much of the race, but remained inside the Top 10 for the majority of the event. A pit stop on Lap 161 resulted in the No. 43 lining up for the ensuing restart in ninth place after problems arose in the mechanics of the pit stop. The California native began another ascent toward the front of the field and had made it all the way to third place before communicating to the crew that the car was the best it had been all day at Lap 219. During a pit stop several laps later, the crew opted to make no adjustments to the car. Allmendinger lined up for the Lap 225 restart in fifth place.

Track conditions changed throughout the event and the car became very loose with about 80 laps remaining. Allmendinger fell back as far as 11th, but was able to begin to work his way back toward the front of the field not long after. A final pit stop at Lap 287 enabled Erwin’s crew to change left side tires and fill the tank with fuel. Allmendinger held down ninth place with 18 laps left in the race and by the time the checkered flag flew, he had made his way up to the sixth position.

Sunday's finish marked the No. 43 team's 10th Top-10 effort of the season. Allmendinger sits in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings heading into next weekend’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Only 25 markers separate Allmendinger from 13th place in the point standings.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Phoenix II Post-Race Quotes

AJ Allmendinger, No. 43 WIX Filters Ford
Finished 6th
“It is a credit to all the guys on the 43 and at RPM. The test was really good and we came back really good. Man, I don’t know. We lost on that one restart. I don’t know. The tires chattered a little bit. The tires were so sensitive and they chattered and got hung out. I overdrove one lap and got in the dirt and that killed us from there. Sixth is okay but I feel like we deserved better. We have to work on our pit stops. Thanks to the 6 guys, our Ford teammates coming over and pitting the last two stops. That was a big difference.”

WHAT WAS BEHIND THAT CALL? “We were bad. We were losing four or five spots on a stop. You can’t do that and win a race and those guys are pretty good. They did a good job.”


Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 DeWalt Ford
Finished 8th
“We had a good car today. We just needed a bit of clean air to get the nose down and feeling good. I am proud of my DeWalt team, they did a good job and we were solid all day long.”

THIS CONTINUES A REALLY GOOD SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON FOR YOU. “Yeah, it bodes even better for the first half of next season.”

Credit - Ford Racing

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phoenix II Qualifying Quotes

AJ Allmendinger, No. 43 WIX Filters Ford
Qualified 2nd

Post-Qualifying Run
“That was insane. The track is way different than what we had yesterday and the Wix Filters Ford was fast. Greg Erwin and everyone at RPM did a good job. Marcos put a good lap up and explained to us what the track was going to be like. I am not sure that will hold up, it wasn’t a great lap by any means but it will be a good starting spot at least.”

Press Interview
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR LAP OUT THERE TODAY? “You kinda watch everybody out there to see how quick the race track is going to be and it was a lot different than yesterday. After being on a race track that had so much grip. I messed my first lap up and just tried to basically back my second lap down to get a clean lap in and see where that put me. I definitely knew there was a chance of it getting beat. I was surprised it held up as long as it did with the guys that were behind me. It is really cool to have Ford with the first three cars and I am excited about tomorrow. I think our car will be really quick. We were good in race trim and more than anything we have to see how the track plays out now.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED WITH THE DEGREE THE TRACK CHANGED AND WAS IT A MATTER OF GUESSING RIGHT ON THE SET UP? “It was definitely a huge surprise. Obviously the sun is out and it is warmer but for as much grip as the track had yesterday you would think maybe it would be a little slower. At night last night I think the quick time was like a 25.50 by Carl so to be almost a second slower was a huge surprise. I was in the hauler watching the first 10 or 15 cars run and you see Jimmie go sailing off and almost get in the wall. Every car seemed to get looser and looser. At that point you have what you have. We tightened it up from yesterday. Marcos put up a good lap and fed back what the track was like so I went in there with an expectation and my first lap was worse than even I expected. It was definitely a lot different than yesterday.”


Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 DeWalt Ford
Qualified 3rd

Post-Qualifying Run
“It felt horrible, treacherous and nasty. I hope the sun comes out. I think we will start in the first half of the field. If you can beat the championship leader it is pretty cool. I tell you what though, I am really thankful for DeWalt, Stanley and Ford and everyone else that supports me. Our team is getting better and better each week. We have had a good couple of months and I am looking forward to 2012.”

Press Interview
TALK ABOUT YOUR LAP OUT THERE. “It was pretty sketchy. I was pleased to get through it really. It was a lot slicker than yesterday with a brand new surface and tire I don’t think anyone knew what to expect. I was pleased with my lap. We used our scuffs. I think the front two used sticker tires out there. All things considered I think we took a conservative approach to it and it paid off.”

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FOR TOMORROW? “It depends what the weather does. We have some rain forecast and it might clean that rubber off and we have to start again, who knows? We have to really watch the weather. It seems there is a lot of grip here when the sun is down. It felt great yesterday afternoon. The track was fast and we were and today with the sun out it was a disaster. It was really slick. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. If it is cloudy then you can expect fast speeds and happy drivers. If the sun is out like this then it could be a handful.”

Credit - Ford Racing

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Phoenix II Race Preview

No. 43 WIX Filters Ford Fusion

• Allmendinger has made six starts at Phoenix International Raceway
• Allmendinger enters this race in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
• Allmendinger won his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole at Phoenix in last year’s spring race

Allmendinger on Testing at Phoenix in October After Track Reconfiguration: “I really like racing in Phoenix, I always enjoying going to the West Coast because I’m close to home. When we tested there the track started off really slick and as more cars ran, it began to rubber up. It felt like maybe there was a groove and a quarter or a groove and a half that built up by the end of the test. I think the layout of the race track seems fun. There’s a lot more room and a lot more grip off of Turn 2. I think they did a good job on the race track. We ran a lot of laps and I felt like we learned some things when we tested back in October. I feel like the crew and I have some momentum going into this weekend after our Top-10 finish in Texas last weekend. I know Greg and my whole WIX Filters crew really want to get a win this season and I think we will have a
good shot at it this weekend. I love racing at Phoenix and I’ve been fast there in the past, so I’m looking for good things this weekend.”

Crew Chief Greg Erwin On Going to Phoenix: “Going into the test in Phoenix we had some ideas and some thoughts based on some information and data that we had, but until we really got on the race track and made laps, we weren’t really sure what to look for. The No. 43 unloaded off the truck and ran really fast without having to make a lot of adjustments. We worked through a bunch of different combinations and we were pretty happy at the conclusion of the test. Our goal is to get a “W” before the season is over and hopefully this is our weekend and we will see the WIX Filters Ford in Victory Lane on Sunday.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 736 for this weekend’s event at Phoenix International Raceway. This WIX Filters Ford has been run previously this season at Richmond, Kansas and Loudon. It was also tested at Phoenix International Raceway on Oct. 4-5.

Notes: Allmendinger has six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Phoenix International Raceway and his first Sprint Cup Series pole came in last year’s spring race at the 1.0-mile oval. His best finish (ninth) came in this year’s spring race. Allmendinger has completed 1,936 of 1,939 laps attempted at the track and has an average finish of 17.4.

Allmendinger will have a different look this weekend as WIX Filters will be the primary partner of the No. 43 Ford Fusion.

The 11th of 12 Best Buy “Re-Tailgate” events will occur Sunday. A combination of 100 premiere Best Buy customers and Best Buy employees will be invited to a private tailgating event. The guests will get the opportunity to meet Allmendinger and attendees will be given a pit tour before enjoying the race at Phoenix International Raceway from their grandstand seats.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

AJ Allmendinger Says Thank You ahead of Veterans Day

With just two races to go in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, AJ Allmendinger has a lot on his mind as he hopes to once again close the year out on a high note with strong finishes in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion.
But between his testing duties at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week and his return to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend for the 500-mile race, Allmendinger took some time out to say thank you as the nation prepared to celebrate Veterans Day this Friday.

Allmendinger, who has carried the colors for both the Air Force and the Paralyzed Veterans of America on his Richard Petty No. 43 this year, counts himself lucky to get to know some of the amazing individuals who have served the United States in the past, and countless others that still do today.

“I don’t really have a history of military in my family, so getting to meet so many good people in the armed forces has been really cool for me,” said Allmendinger. “What they all do every day, as a team, for our country is so important. The more I learn about what they do, and the more people I met, the more impressed I am. It’s humbling to have so many people with such talent out there representing and protecting me. It’s important for us to think of all the sacrifices that our veterans and their families have made through the years. Not just on Veterans Day, but every day.”

AJ Allmendinger started both rounds of competition at Phoenix from the front row in 2010, and will look to make the most of the recent test on the repaved surface as NASCAR heads west for the penultimate round of the 2011 season. The Best Buy Racing driver will sport the WIX Filters paint scheme this weekend as he looks to build on his run to 10th place at Texas last weekend.

Credit -

Monday, November 7, 2011

Texas II Race Recap

No. 43 Immortals/Best Buy Ford Fusion
  • AJ Allmendinger started in the 26th position for the 500-mile event at Texas Motor Speedway
  • Allmendinger finished in the race in the 10th position at the 1.5-mile track
  • Unofficially, Allmendinger sits in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
Race Summary: AJ Allmendinger started the AAA Texas 500 in the 26th spot and at the drop of the green flag began to make his way toward the front of the field. After just 35 laps, Allmendinger held down the 16th position.

The first pit stop of the day came at Lap 43 of the 334-lap event. Because his driver was happy with the handling of the car, Crew Chief Greg Erwin opted not to make any changes to the Immortals/Best Buy Ford and the crew went to work bolting on four fresh tires to the car as well as filling the tank with fuel. Allmendinger returned to the track in the 13th position.

At the Lap 66 mark, the driver of the No. 43 machine let his team know that the handling of the car had become a little loose in and off the corners and tight in the center. A pit stop at Lap 90 enabled Erwin to make a wedge adjustment to the car. Allmendinger commented during the first caution period of the day, which came at Lap 113, that the car was better after the changes.

Allmendinger made his way into the Top 10 just prior to the 200-lap mark and continued to move forward. Lined up for a restart at Lap 207 in eighth, he held down ninth place when another caution flag flew at Lap 240. The crew opted for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment this time around. A lightning quick stop by the Immortals/Best Buy team helped Allmendinger pick up two positions and he lined up for the green flag at Lap 245 in seventh.

A two-tire pit stop at lap 264 kept the No. 43 Ford inside the Top 10 until the handling of the car began to slip. Allmendinger fell back to as far as 24th, but began to move back toward the front of the pack with 30 laps remaining in the event. When the checkered flag flew, Allmendinger had wheeled the Immortals/Best Buy Ford into the 10th spot.

Allmendinger’s Thoughts on the Race: “That was probably the most comfortable I’ve ever felt on a mile-and-a-half track, especially one like this. It was fun. From the start we were just passing cars and making good adjustments. The track was tough because the sun would keep popping out and the track would change a lot, but overall, I felt like it was definitely the best I’ve ever felt in a car around one of these places. We just got a bad break there on the two tires. It was a good fight to get back to 10th, and more importantly, that’s something to build on.”

Sunday's finish marked the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team's ninth Top-10 of the season. Allmendinger sits in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings heading into next Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Texas II Post-Race Quotes

AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Immortals/Best Buy Ford
Finished 10th
“That was probably the most comfortable I’ve ever felt on a mile-and-a-half, especially one like this. It was fun. From the start we were just passing cars and making good adjustments. The track was tough because the sun would keep popping out and the track would change a lot, but, overall, I felt like it was definitely the best I’ve ever felt in a car around one of these places. We just got a bad break there on the two tires. We didn’t need that extra caution. I got back into sixth on the restart and we were good, and then the yellow came out and we went backwards after that. It was a good fight to get back to 10th, but, overall and more importantly, that’s something to build on.”

Credit - Ford Racing

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dinger Fan Story #10

I have been an avid NASCAR & Richard Petty fan since 1976. When Richard retired at the end of the 1992 season I quickly became a fan of the car & number. There have been numerous drivers but in my opinion no other has brought the same level of excitement to the 43 as AJ Allmendinger.
My son Kyle, my wife Jan & myself have been driving the 2400 miles to Michigan International Speedway for nine years. Every year we buy pit passes & every year we seem to get closer to the drivers & crews. This year we were treated to garage passes which enabled us to get "real" close to the action. While wandering in the garage area I was able to take over 800 pictures.Most were of the 43 on & off the track. We were introduced to AJ inside the 43 Best Buy hauler & had an opportunity to watch 1st practice on top of the trailer. The race was awesome. AJ started 29th, battled an ill handling race car all day & still managed to get out of there with a top 10 finish. An experience of a lifetime.
Michael P.
Winnipeg, Manitoba


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Texas II Race Preview

No. 43 Immortals/Best Buy Ford Fusion

• Allmendinger has made seven starts at Texas Motor Speedway
• Allmendinger enters the race in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
• Allmendinger’s best finish (10th) at the track came in 2009

Allmendinger on Texas Motor Speedway: “I feel like every time we go to Texas we improve and learn something we can apply the next time we go. Texas is a fast 1.5-mile track. We’ve got a really cool looking paint scheme with Immortals on the car this weekend and I’d love to see the No. 43 car in Victory Lane Sunday. We had a Top-20 finish at Texas in the spring, so I’m
hopeful for good things this weekend in the Immortals/Best Buy Ford.”

Crew Chief Greg Erwin’s Keys to Getting Around Texas Motor Speedway: “You carry a lot of speed into the corners at Texas. It’s a really fast track, especially in the fall with the cooler temperatures. We are taking what has been our best car the second half of the season to Texas this weekend. We had good runs at Atlanta and Dover with this car and a Top-10 finish at
Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway a couple of weeks ago. I have a lot of confidence that we will be fast this weekend in our Immortals/Best Buy Ford.

“In the middle of Turns 1 and 2 and Turns 3 and 4 there are bumps on the race track where the tunnels go underneath. It puts a little hump in the center of the track and there is an opportunity for the car to bottom out at those places if we get overly aggressive, so we’ll have to be careful of that. All in all we are excited about this weekend and really looking forward to going to Texas.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 710 for this weekend’s event at Texas Motor Speedway. This Immortals/ Best Buy Ford has been previously run this season at Texas, Charlotte, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Dover.

Notes: Allmendinger has seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway and three Top-15 finishes at the
1.5-mile track. Allmendinger’s best finish (10th) came at the fall race at Texas in 2009. He has completed 2,143 of 2,338 laps attempted at the track and has an average starting position of 17.7.

Allmendinger’s car will have a different look this weekend as Relativity Media is co-sponsoring the No. 43 Ford Fusion alongside Best Buy to promote its upcoming 3D epic adventure film, Immortals, which is scheduled to be in theatres 11/11/2011.

The 10th of 12 Best Buy “Re-Tailgate” events will occur Sunday. A combination of 100 premiere Best Buy customers and Best Buy employees will be invited to a private tailgating event. The guests will get the opportunity to meet Allmendinger, and attendees will be given a pit tour before enjoying the race from their grandstand seats.

Four Star General Mark A. Welsh III will be attending the race this weekend on behalf of the U.S. Air Force. General Welsh is Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe; Commander, Air Component Command, Ramstein; and Director, Joint Air Power Competency Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He is responsible for Air Force activities, conducted through 3rd Air Force, in an area of operations covering almost one-fifth of the globe. This area includes 51 countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans with a total population reaching nearly one billion people speaking more than 80 languages. He also has administrative control of 17th Air Force, providing support, logistics and resources to U.S. Africa Command.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Monday, October 31, 2011

Martinsville II Race Recap

No. 43 AdvoCare Ford Fusion
  • AJ Allmendinger started in the 16th position for the 500-lap event at Martinsville Speedway
  • Allmendinger, finished in the race in the 11th position at the .536-mile track
  • Unofficially, Allmendinger sits in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
Race Summary: AJ Allmendinger started the 263-mile event at Martinsville Speedway from the 16th position. Inclement weather caused the cancelation of Saturday’s qualifying session and the starting line-up was set per the NASCAR rule book. Allmendinger didn’t waste any time letting his crew know he was happy with his car, and Crew Chief Greg Erwin elected not to bring the AdvoCare Ford down pit road during the first three caution periods of the race. Staying out under yellow, combined with a fast race car, enabled Allmendinger to drive his way to the lead on Lap 55.

Though he was beginning to fight a car that was struggling to find rear grip, the No. 43 continued to run up front until a Lap 66 caution period allowed Erwin to call Allmendinger onto pit road for an air pressure adjustment, four fresh tires and fuel. Several cars elected not to pit under the fourth caution period of the day and Allmendinger restarted the race in 16th place. Just a few laps into the run, Allmendinger communicated to his crew that the air pressure adjustment made on the previous stop had helped the handling of his race car.

Pleased with the AdvoCare Ford Fusion, Allmendinger was again out front leading the field on Lap 117. As the laps wore on, Allmendinger began to struggle to find rear grip and began to slip back several positions. Erwin called for a variety of chassis adjustments in the ensuing pit stops and Allmendinger continued to run inside the Top 10 for the majority of the event.

The turning point for the No. 43 came on Lap 407 when Allmendinger sustained left front fender damage due to a multi-car accident. Having to bring the AdvoCare machine into the pits on Lap 409 for repairs, Allmendinger lost valuable time and was forced to restart in the 22nd position on Lap 413, the last car on the lead lap. Allmendinger didn't waste any time making his way back toward the front of the field though, and was running in the 14th spot by Lap 441.

Contact with the No. 78 car on Lap 444 sent Allmendinger’s car sliding up the track and into the wall, causing minor right side damage. Allmendinger again found himself at the tail end of the lead lap, this time with just over 50 laps to go. Never giving up, Allmendinger put the pedal to the metal and worked his way up to the 15th spot with just six laps remaining in the 500-lap event when the caution flag flew for the 18th and final time on Lap 494. By virtue of several cars wrecking in front of the No. 43 machine, Allmendinger was able to advance four spots in the remaining laps of the race and brought the AdvoCare Ford home in 11th place.

Allmendinger was awarded a bonus point for leading a total of two times throughout the event, equaling 19 laps, and now sits in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings heading into next Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Martinsville II Post-Race Quotes

AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 AdvoCare Ford Fusion
Finished 11th
“That’s Martinsville. It was a really good car. I think we just needed something small to win the race, but the car was so good. It was really good. I was proud of all the guys. We’ve got to work on our pit stops a little bit because we kept losing a couple of spots, but what really hurt us was I got put three-wide on the outside and got into Juan and that shoved the fender over the tire and we got a yellow, and from there on back we were at the back of the pack and everybody is just gouging back there. Doug gave me a great motor and everybody at the engine shop. The car was good and that’s all you can say."

A VERY PHYSICAL RACE TODAY. WHY? “It was unbelievable. It was insane. That’s the way NASCAR is now. Everybody is desperate. We’ve got to fight for everything we can get out there. Sponsors, points, money, etc., so everybody is trying to get everything. It’s the end of the year. It just seems like if it’s just me, but it just seems like this year is tiring. Everybody is tired and you put that combination together at a place like Martinsville and things are gonna happen.”

Credit - Ford Racing

Friday, October 28, 2011

AJ to become Immortal at Texas

Relativity Media Co-Sponsors No. 43 Race Car at 2011 Texas NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Immortals Branding

Relativity Media and Virgin Produced will promote its upcoming epic adventure Immortals to millions of NASCAR fans by co-sponsoring the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. Through its partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Production Company Virgin Produced, Relativity will join Best Buy and Richard Petty Motorsports in this co-branding initiative. The celebrated AJ Allmendinger, also known as “The Dinger,” will drive the No. 43 car at the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas on November 6, 2011, five days before Relativity’s Immortals opens in theaters on November 11, 2011.

Branded with Best Buy logos, The No. 43 race car will also feature the Immortals title treatment placed on the hood, upper rear quarter panels and deck lid. In addition, the crew and Allmendinger will wear Immortals hats and shirts, as well as the title treatment on the pit wall banner. Relativity will also have access to trackside photography services, Richard Petty Motorsports digital media efforts, autographed merchandise and more public relations support as a result of this collaboration.

Relativity formed its innovative partnership with Virgin Produced in 2010 with a first look deal in which the company produces films for the studio. Virgin Produced’s presence across a diverse range of businesses is what brought Relativity Media, Best Buy and Richard Petty Motorsports together for this No. 43 RPM Ford branding takeover. Best Buy will also feature Immortals custom video content on media walls in its stores nationwide from November 1, 2011 through opening day on November 11, 2011. Virgin Produced also brought together Relativity and NASCAR hall-of-famer Richard Petty, co-owner of the NASCAR team for which Allmendinger drives, through its existing relationship with them.

From the producers of 300, Mark Canton, Gianni Nunnari, and Relativity’s CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, Immortals stars Henry Cavill (Superman: Man of Steel), Luke Evans (Robin Hood), Kellan Lutz (Twillight), Isabel Lucas (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Stephen Dorff (Public Enemies), John Hurt (Hellboy) and Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2). Directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall) and written by Charles Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides, Immortals tells the story of the ruthless King Hyperion (Rourke), who leads his bloodthirsty army on a murderous rampage across Greece to find a deadly weapon that will destroy humanity. A mortal chosen by Zeus named Theseus (Cavill) must lead the fight against Hyperion and his evil army with the fate of mankind and the Gods at Stake.

Credit -

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Martinsville II Race Preview

No. 43 AdvoCare Ford Fusion

• AJ Allmendinger has made eight starts at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
• Allmendinger enters the weekend in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
• Allmendinger’s best finish (ninth) at the half-mile track came in the 2009 spring race

Allmendinger on Racing at Martinsville Speedway: “I enjoy short-track racing at Martinsville. I always look forward to going there and I’ve run pretty good the past couple of times we’ve raced at Martinsville. It’s racing where you have to get a rhythm going. I’ll have to really concentrate on saving my brakes because it’s a track that really wears them out quick. Brakes are really key at Martinsville and I want to make sure I still have them at the end of the race. I’m looking forward to a great weekend with my team and a good finish in my AdvoCare Ford.”

Crew Chief Greg Erwin’s Thoughts on Martinsville Speedway: “We are taking the same car this weekend that the team raced at Martinsville earlier this year. This will be my first race with AJ at Martinsville, but I suspect he is good there like he is on most short tracks because of his ability to brake hard and get the car turned down in the center and keep the weight on the front tires like he does on road courses. Most of the good road course drivers are also good short-track racers. We are looking forward to going to Martinsville and recovering some of the points we lost at Talladega last weekend. The fall race at Martinsville is a terrific time of year to go to the track and it’s great racing to watch. The AdvoCare team is looking for good things this weekend and a “W” would be great to pull off in one of these last four races of the season.”

Erwin on the Famous Martinsville Hot Dog: “I love the Martinsville hot dogs. There was a time in my younger days I would eat eight or nine hotdogs a day, but now I can only handle about three or four a day. That is one of the unique things about Martinsville Speedway, nobody makes hot dogs like they do!”

Chassis History: The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team has prepared chassis No. 729 for this weekend’s event at Martinsville Speedway. This AdvoCare Ford Fusion was run previously this season at Phoenix Raceway, Martinsville, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and in New Hampshire.

Notes: Allmendinger has eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville Speedway and has four top-15 finishes at the .526-mile track. Allmendinger enters Martinsville Speedway in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings. He has completed 3,546 of 4,019 laps attempted at the track and has led six of them.

Don’t miss out on your chance to meet The Dinger. AJ will be signing autographs at the Richard Petty Motorsports merchandise hauler Sunday, Oct. 30 at 10 a.m. The first 75 guests in line at the merchandise hauler when it opens will receive a ticket that will allow them to take part in the autograph session.

Richard Petty will be participating in the 23rd annual NASCAR Day Festival in Randleman, N.C. on Saturday. “The King” will be signing autographs for fans from 5-7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Security Savings Bank at the corner of Main and Naomi streets.

AJ will participate in the fifth of five NASCAR-controlled electronic fuel injection tests Monday at Martinsville Speedway. After using carburetors since its first race in 1949, NASCAR will race with electronic fuel injection for the first time next year.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Monday, October 24, 2011

Talladega II Race Recap

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
  • AJ Allmendinger started in the 24th position for the 188-lap event at Talladega Superspeedway
  • Allmendinger finished the race in the 31st position at the 2.66-mile superspeedway
  • Unofficially, Allmendinger sits in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
Race Summary: AJ Allmendinger started the 500-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway from the 24th position and immediately hooked up with teammate Marcos Ambrose to form the important two-car tandem. The pair remained glued together and worked their way into the top 15 early, communicating via the team radio nearly non-stop.

The first caution flag of the day flew at Lap 26 of the 188-lap event and, like much of the field, Allmendinger drove to the attention of his awaiting crew for fresh right side tires and fuel. Hooking back up with teammate Ambrose at the restart, he held down 15th place at Lap 31. The two continued to work together on the track until making a scheduled pit stop on Lap 68. Allmendinger returned to the track after his four-tire stop and saw the caution flag wave the very next lap.

Because they had already come into the pits, Allmendinger and Ambrose took the green flag for the restart in the first and second spot. Working to stay out of the usual Talladega trouble, the two faded back a bit, but remained in sight of the leaders. Unfortunately, a slight miscue at Lap 105 resulted in the No. 43 car spinning down the track and into the path of oncoming traffic. Allmendinger was able to drive the damaged Best Buy Ford to pit road and the crew went to work to make repairs. The majority of the damage was cosmetic and was confined to the left side of the machine.

Allmendinger returned to the track in time for the Lap 110 green flag and attempted to work with Ambrose once again, but was forced to pit several laps later after shredding a left rear tire. Allmendinger lost several laps while the crew made additional repairs. He was able to pick up one lap thanks to the Lucky Dog award, but encountered another flat tire at Lap 138. The reason for the tire rub was found once Allmendinger drove the Best Buy Ford back into the pits and the crew spent several laps working on more repairs.

Allmendinger returned to the track with 46 laps remaining in the race and spent much of the remainder of the race drafting with wounded competitors. When the checkered flag waved, Allmendinger held down the 31st position. Allmendinger now stands in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings heading into next Sunday’s race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in Martinsville, Va.

Credit -Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Talladega II Qualifying Quotes

AJ Allmendinger, No. 43 Best Buy Ford
Qualified 24th
“That was pretty much all skill by me right there. Actually no, we didn’t qualify very fast so that was all the car then. It was pretty stable. We got on the back straightaway there and there are a couple people partying pretty hard so that was pretty good. I was pretty impressed. I think they were left over from last night. I heard them last night as well. Other than that it was Talladega qualifying. The Best Buy Ford should start mid pack to start with and end up front. That’s the plan.”

WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING PART OF THIS TO YOU?“Yesterday it seemed like all the stuff they did to make us not be able to push as long still didn’t help. NASCAR will figure out how to do something but the teams are so smart now that they figure out a way to still make it better. I think it is honestly how long you can run in a tandem group and whether we will do that all race or all pack up for awhile and then get with our partners and try to race at the end. We will see.”

WOULD THERE EVER BE A SCENARIO WHERE A MANUFACTURER WOULD SAY YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO PUSH ANOTHER MANUFACTURER? “I haven’t been told that yet. Maybe I will be told that after this now. Maybe they forgot to get to me. I could easily see that though. The biggest thing is that first off, I want to win the race for myself, Best Buy and Richard Petty Motorsports. Secondly we want to get one of these Fords to win the championship and Matt and Carl are right there for it. Anything we can do to help them is what is always going to be our focus.”


Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Stanley Ford
Qualified 19th
“Me and Todd Parrott have been through a lot together. I have a lot to thank him for. He has been a great crew chief for me and we get on well. We’ve had a really good month with three top-10s in row and that run will put us somewhere around 15th here. We are close to AJ, our teammate, so we should be able to find each other pretty quick on Sunday and get to the front.”

YOU HAVE ‘NO BRAKES’ WRITTEN ON YOUR HAND, WHAT’S THAT ABOUT? “That is just a cue for me when I jump in the car I always tend to test the brake pedal and here that will push the pads back. I didn’t want to be that guy that pumped the pedal and forget about it. It is just my mental cue before I put my gloves on to make sure I don’t touch the brake. This stuff here is unique. The car has all this stuff in it to make it run fast and produce drag.”

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST THOUGHT ABOUT THE WEEKEND’S RACE? WHAT IS STILL ON YOUR MIND? “I just want to get to the finish. It is one of these deals here where I have had trouble finishing lately being caught up in weird accidents. Our goal here is to be in contention coming to the checkered flag and hopefully put ourselves in good position.”

DO YOU SEE A SCENARIO WHERE YOU WOULD PUSH A CHEVY?“If it is Kevin Harvick then there is no chance. We are trying to help as best we can our Ford drivers win the championship. Carl and Matt Kenseth have had a great year so far and I don’t want to get in the way of the championship and don’t want to change the outcome, I don’t want to be in the way. I think pushing a Chase contender in a Chevrolet would probably not be the best thing for your career if you have blue blood, and that I certainly have.”

SO YOU PAIR UP BASED ON WHERE THEY ARE IN THE CHASE AND WHAT MANUFACTURER IS ON THE CAR? “In the end you want to have a dance partner already set. If you can’t find your teammate or person you want to work with then it will be a scramble and you have to do what you have to do to get your car as high as you can. I don’t think that if there are 43 cars out there that I will be looking for anyone but a Ford driver to get me to the line."

Credit - Ford Racing

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Talladega II Race Preview

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
• Allmendinger has made six starts at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
• Allmendinger enters the race in 14th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
• Allmendinger’s best finish (11th) at the track came in this year’s event at the 2.66-mile track in August

Allmendinger on Talladega Superspeedway: “Talladega isn’t one of my favorite places to race. I had a big wreck there last year and flipped, so it doesn’t bring back good memories. We’ve never really had good results there until this year’s event in August when we finished in 11th place. We had a fast car at Talladega earlier this year, so I’m feeling good about this weekend’s race. It will be interesting to see how the new rules package affects my Best Buy Ford’s drafting abilities. Hopefully it will help the two-car draft. It’s all about survival this weekend. If we can miss “The Big One” we should be in good shape Sunday.”

Crew Chief Greg Erwin’s Keys to Getting Around Talladega: “At Talladega it will be key to find a good drafting partner. It will have to be someone that can push the Best Buy Ford really fast and someone that can pull us fast, all while being smart. Based on what we saw at Daytona and Talladega earlier this year with the tandem drafting, we’ll probably have to find a partner that will stick with us, unless the new rules NASCAR has implemented this weekend change that. We will just have to wait and see how things work out once we unload for practice on Friday.

“We need to make sure we have a fast car with a lot of horsepower and that AJ and the Best Buy crew don’t make any mistakes during pit stops. There will likely be some stops under green flag conditions during the middle part of the race, so we need to make sure we are in sync with our drafting partner when pitting so we don’t lose the draft.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 722 for this weekend’s event at Talladega Superspeedway. This Best Buy Ford has been run previously this season at Daytona and Talladega’s first event of the season.

Notes: Allmendinger has six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega Superspeedway. Allmendinger’s best starting position (fourth) came in 2008 at the 2.66-mile track. His best finishing position (11th) came in this year’s August event at the superspeedway. He has completed 1,115 of 1,143 laps attempted at the quad-oval, leading six of them. Allmendinger enters Talladega in 14th spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.

NASCAR will implement two rule changes for this week’s running of the Good Sam Clubs 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. The size of the restrictor plate that teams will use to prepare and practice for the race will increase by 1/64 inch and is now going to be 57/64 inch diameter. This will provide the teams with an additional 7-10 horsepower. Additionally, the pressure relief valve on the cars’ cooling system will be recalibrated to reduce the pressure by approximately eight pounds per square inch from last April’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega.

Don’t miss out on your chance to meet AJ. Allmendinger. The driver of the No. 43 Ford will be visiting Woody Anderson Ford in Huntsville, Ala. (25 Jordan Lane, Huntsville, Ala., 35816) on Thursday from 2-3:30 p.m. CT for an autograph session and meet and greet with the employees. The autograph session will be open to the public.

Check out the Richard Petty Motorsports website at for up-to-date news and information on Allmendinger, Ambrose and the rest of the RPM crew. The Dinger also has a website of his own. Visit for everything AJ.

Credit - Ford Racing