Thursday, March 31, 2011

Martinsville Race Preview

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
• AJ Allmendinger has made 7 starts at Martinsville Speedway
• Allmendinger enters the weekend in 15th 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: “Martinsville has been a decent track for us the past couple of years. I always look forward to short track racing. It’s racing where you have to get a rhythm going. It’s definitely a track that’s fun if you get your car to handle well. If you can get in a good rhythm it makes the laps go by quick. Qualifying is also very important, because it determines our spot on pit road, and pit selection is key at Martinsville.”

Allmendinger’s Thoughts After California: “Overall I think the Best Buy crew and I got a little bit of momentum back after a couple of hard weeks. We’re up to 15th in the points now, so that keeps us within striking distance of the top 10 guys. We need to have a good finish at Martinsville this weekend and gain some more points.”

Crew Chief Mike Shiplett’s Keys to Getting Around Martinsville Speedway: “Martinsville is a true short track. AJ will have to use his brakes sparingly during the first half of the 500-mile event so he has some brakes left at the end of the race. It is very easy to cut a tire at Martinsville since the cars like to bounce off each other. We have to concentrate on being consistent in our Best Buy Ford this weekend and we can’t use the car up early or we won’t have anything left at the end. We’re back in the top 15 in points now, and we’re working on building more consistency in our runs. If we can get that, the points and everything else will all fall into place.”

Shiplett on Pit Road at Martinsville: “It’s one of those places we visit where the hardest challenge is pit road. It’s pretty narrow getting on and off so we’ll have to be careful and make sure we don’t make any mistakes there. Pit road is also very long and the speed limit is only 35 mph, so if you have to pit under the green flag you will lose three laps before you get back out on the track.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team has prepared chassis No. 729 for this weekend’s event at Martinsville Speedway. This Best Buy Ford Fusion was run previously this season at Phoenix International Raceway.

Notes: Allmendinger has seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville Speedway and has three top-15 finishes at the .526-mile track. Allmendinger enters Martinsville Speedway in 15th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings.

Voting is under way to determine the 2011 NASCAR Wheaties Fuel Most Popular Driver. Vote for your favorite RPM driver at The 10-week playoff format will return, with the top 10 vote-getters competing for top accolades at the season’s end. Fans can vote once a day for their favorite NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.

Goody’s and BC Powder will hold a press conference with Richard Petty and Trace Adkins in Martinsville Speedway’s media center Sunday, April 3, at 9 a.m. ET. The two men, who have quite a lively rivalry on Facebook and at, will join together for the weekend to support Victory Junction and Adkin’s charity of choice. Adkins will sing the National Anthem on Sunday as well.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Ramble - Fontana Edition

Why Every Vote Counts
It’s time for me to start campaigning again to get my driver, AJ Allmendinger, voted into the 2011 All-Star Race coming up on May 21st. The website for voting opened last week (see the link at top right) and I’ve already put in a few hundred votes in that amount of time. I dedicate every spare minute that I can to logging votes under my numerous email accounts hour after hour.

A couple people have asked me why I am bothering this year considering the fact that AJ is going up against NASCAR’s most popular driver – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The fan vote will most certainly go to the driver of the #88 HMS Chevy. A few people even expressed surprise that the All-Star format wasn’t changed to allow the arguably biggest name in the sport an automatic berth into the race. But in my opinion, they didn’t need to change the rules. The fan vote was already written into the script, and you can pretty much mark it in stone that Junior will get the most votes. So why waste time voting for anyone else?

Before I answer that question, first let me say that I hope with everything that I’ve got that AJ won’t need the fan vote. Every driver is thankful to their fans when they win that vote and get to race in the All-Star, but no driver wants to get in that way. They want to earn it by either winning a race or finishing in the top two positions in the Showdown. But despite not wanting to get in through the vote, the drivers know that not only do they want to race, they also owe it to their sponsors to try and earn a spot in the big race through any means possible - so that means campaigning.

I’ve named one reason why a driver would want their fans to vote for them – their sponsor. But why would a fan want to put so much energy into a seemingly pointless task? Well one reason is actually the same as it is for why the driver wants it – for the sponsor. Everyone knows how much effort I put into getting fans to send supportive emails to AJ’s sponsor Best Buy last fall. This campaign is no different. As a fan of AJ, it is my duty to support his sponsor in every way possible. I shop at Best Buy and I encourage every one I know, NASCAR fan or not, to do the same. That company has invested a lot of money into AJ’s career and they deserve my support in return. It’s in their best interest to have their car in the All-Star race, so I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen.

Another reason for voting every chance I get is that, while Junior getting the most votes is all but inevitable, he might not need them or be able to use them. If by chance Junior wins a race between now and the All-Star weekend or happens to race his way into the big show during the qualifying race, those votes for him are thrown out the window. And if he doesn’t get in on his own, there is also the possibility that he won’t be able to use the fan vote because an accident in the Showdown race could take him out of the eligibility. Let’s not forget how crazy that race is and that one of the criteria for being the fan vote winner is finishing on the lead lap of the Showdown.

So yes, Junior will almost certainly get the most votes from fans, but that doesn’t mean that it is useless for AJ fans to vote as often as possible. Getting the most votes doesn’t guarantee that Junior will race in the All-Star race. Besides, even if it does turn out that way and Junior is able to use that vote, it doesn’t mean I wasted my time voting. Because the absolute biggest reason why I’m voting and campaigning is because there is a chance, no matter how slim it might be, that I can make the difference. This is the only time all year long that fans get a say in what happens to their driver. When those votes are tallied, I want to be able to say that I did everything I could – that I gave it everything I had. AJ does that every weekend on the track, so shouldn’t I pay it back? The answer is yes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fontana Race Recap

AJ ALLMENDINGER - No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
Finished 14th

Between taking to the dirt with Marcus Gronholm's Best Buy Ford Fiesta and making a visit to a Best Buy store ahead of the race weekend, it was a very busy few days for AJ Allmendinger as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed west to AJ's home state for the Auto Club 400 in Fontana.

After kicking off with a visit to Best Buy in Downey, California (store #1672), Allmendinger headed to his first track of the race weekend to get acquainted with the 650+ HP Best Buy Ford Fiesta that he was set to drive as part of the first-ever Global Rallycross event just down the road from Auto Club Speedway. Turns out that the same car AJ drove--the huge horsepower Ford Fiesta adorned with Best Buy livery--went on to win the event as multiple world rally champion Marcus Gronholm dominated the weekend.

On the Cup side, the weekend didn't get get off to the start that AJ had been hoping for. While a rough ride was to be expected in the rally car, the way the Best Buy Ford Fusion was handling the bumps on the 2.0-mile Auto Club Speedway wasn't making for ideal lap times, with qualifying producing a spot on the tenth row.

Despite a lot of brainstorming and tweaks, the car was still "loose in and tight off" at race time on a track that sees the drivers carry a whole lot of throttle and suitcases full of commitment into every corner. More pit-stop changes saw the car coming around a little bit, but still didn't have the pace to fight forward, with the No. 43 seeming to be stuck at 23 on the charts lap after lap. Not a group to panic, Allmendinger and Shiplett kept their heads down as the 43 fought to stay in the lead lap pack.

With one final yellow flag on the 186th lap, there was the chance to make one more set of changes, and score another round of rubber. That seemed to do the trick as Allmendinger made the most of the closing laps to nab 14th at the finish as he picked up one spot on every lap in the final eight trips around the 2.0-mile circuit. Turns out he just needed 14 more laps…

"That was quite a weekend!" said AJ. "I'll admit, was pretty frustrated with our pace through most of the weekend. No matter what we tried, we just didn't get the car as quick as we needed to. But I'm proud of how we just kept fighting and to come out of here with a top fifteen is not bad. It's not what we wanted out of the weekend but if we have an off weekend and still score those kinds of points, that will be huge in the long run. It was a lot of fun to run the Best Buy rally car and congrats to Marcus on his wins this weekend."

The effort didn't just score rewards for AJ with some decent points, as it also netted some $5,000 to the Paralyzed Veterans of America as Allmendinger won the "Sprint Bragging Rights" by finishing ahead of fellow Californian Casey Mears.

"I'm also really happy to get the chance to help the Paralyzed Veterans out with this award--they were on board with us at the Rolex 24 and we are looking forward to having them with us on the 43 again at Daytona this summer so it was great to win the Bragging Rights and it was another positive thing to come out of a weekend that didn't start the way we were hoping. Richard Petty has got some good cars for the short track package and I'm already looking forward to next weekend."

From the high-speed wide open spaces of "Fontana," it will be time for one grove, glowing brake disks, and some rough and tumble closed quarters racing on NASCAR's original track as the series heads to Martinsville next weekend.

AJ was 15th on the grid with a 12th place finish at the fall Martinsville race last season.

Credit - Walldinger Racing, Inc. PR

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fontana Race Preview

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
• San Jose, Calif., native AJ Allmendinger has made six starts at Auto Club Speedway
• Allmendinger enters the weekend in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
• Allmendinger’s best start (second) at the two-mile track came in 2008

Allmendinger on Racing at Auto Club Speedway: “Auto Club Speedway is a fast track. We’ve qualified well in the past and we ran well last fall. I’ve got five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at this track and I know what I need to do to get my car around this two-mile speedway. I was really disappointed in the way things turned out in Bristol and am looking forward to a good weekend with my Richard Petty Motorsports team. I also can’t wait to get on the track and show my home state what I can do in the Best Buy Ford Fusion.”

Allmendinger on Going Back to California: “I’m really looking forward to going back to my home state of California this weekend, even though my home town is about 400 miles north of the track. I enjoy getting to see my family and friends, and the fans in Fontana are great. I really want to get the No. 43 Best Buy Ford to Victory Lane, and what better a place to do it than this weekend in front of a California crowd.”

Crew Chief Mike Shiplett’s Keys to Getting Around Auto Club Speedway: “You need a lot of horsepower at California, which our engine shop has been very good at producing this year. There are some bumps to deal with coming off of Turn 2 that can upset the car. We have to try to keep the car as low as we can without hitting the bumps, to stay smooth coming out of the turn. There are multiple grooves at this two-mile oval, but when the track rubbers up it’s hard to get the car to run on both the top and the bottom, so AJ has to pick one lane or the other to run throughout the day. California has really fast entry speeds into the corners, so entry problems could be an issue. Pit road is really big and AJ has go be right on the money stopping the Best Buy Ford at the pit sign so we can get in a really fast stop. All in all, I’m really looking forward to heading to Fontana this weekend.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team has prepared chassis No. 742 for this weekend’s event at Auto Club Speedway. This is a brand new Best Buy Ford Fusion.

Notes: Allmendinger has six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway and has three top-12 qualifying efforts.Allmendinger enters the two-mile California track in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings.

Can’t get enough of AJ? The Dinger will be appearing at the Best Buy store in the Stonewood Center Mall (251 Stonewood St., Downey, Calif. 90241). The appearance is scheduled for Thursday, March 24, from 6-8 p.m. and is open to the public.

Allmendinger will also be signing autographs at the Richard Petty Motorsports merchandise hauler Sunday, March 27 at 8:40 a.m. The first 75 guest in line will receive a ticket that will allow them to take part in the autograph session.

The Global Rally Cross Championship will be held at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway this weekend and Allmendinger will participate in hot laps on Thursday. Allmendinger will also partake in pre-race festivities on Saturday and be on hand to support two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm, who will be driving the 600-horsepower, all-wheel drive Best Buy Financial Ford Fiesta in the event.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bristol Race Review

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
• AJ Allmendinger started in the 28th position at Bristol Motor Speedway
• Allmendinger finished the event in the 31st position after being caught up in a multi-car accident early in the race
• Unofficially, Allmendinger sits in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points after the fourth race of the season

Race Summary: AJ Allmendinger lined up in the 28th position for the start of the Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Though he was able to pick up several spots in the early laps of the event, Allmendinger communicated to crew chief Mike Shiplett that the handling of the Best Buy Ford was going to need some help if their Richard Petty Motorsports team was going to make it to Victory Lane.

Unfortunately, those hopes were quashed just 25 laps into the race when Allmendinger was caught up in a multi-car accident. In an effort to avoid the melee ahead of him, Allmendinger moved up to the top of the track but ran out of room between the outside wall and the No. 11 car, which was stopped on the track. The contact resulted in minor left side damage to the car in addition to affecting the wheel alignment of the car.

After quick repairs by the Best Buy crew in the pits, Allmendinger returned to the track four laps in arrears. Though the car was a little worse for the wear, Allmendinger was able to run competitive lap times. At the Lap 130 mark, the California native let his crew know that the Best Buy Ford was free going into Turn 1 and a little tight in the center. Shiplett made plans to make minor adjustment to the car during the next stop.

At the halfway point of the race, Allmendinger held down the 34th position and was battling with only one other competitor on his same lap. He was able to pick up several positions in the middle stages of the race, but at Lap 387, communicated via team radio that the car was losing power.

A yellow flag at Lap 429 enabled Shiplett to call his driver into the pits. After a quick check under the hood for a loose plug wire, the team bolted on four fresh tires and sent the No. 43 machine back out on the track.

Allmendinger was able to avoid another multi-car accident with just over 50 laps remaining in the event and when the checkered flag flew at the half-mile Bristol oval, Allmendinger had made his way into the 31st position.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Friday, March 18, 2011

AJ Allmendinger - Bristol Media Interview

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion, is one of two Ford drivers currently in the top 12 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. Allmendinger, who holds down the ninth spot, held a Q&A session Friday morning before practice.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND? “It’s one of my favorite places. It was the first race I ever made in the Sprint Cup Series, so it has some meaning for me. Once you get to Bristol, for me at least, you kind of see where your short track program is at. Last year, we weren’t very good here. We struggled a little bit in both races for two separate reasons. One, the first race we were tight and the second race we were loose, so it’s something Mike Shiplett and I really focused on in the off-season to figure out why we struggled here and we think we at least have a handle on it, so I’m looking forward to getting out on the track here in a couple hours and seeing where we’re going to be. Overall, I’m excited about the start.

HOW DOES BRISTOL RANK IN TERMS OF DIFFICULTY TO LEARN AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGES FOR YOU BEHIND THE WHEEL? “It’s a tough place to learn. It’s a tough place to race. I loved the place when I showed up to it. I still do and I’m always excited to come here, but I honestly haven’t had a great race here. I think my best finish is like 17th. We’ve had times where we were really fast here and something goes wrong, and I think that’s probably the most difficult thing is you can have a great race car all day, you can do all the right things and just one bad move by you or one bad move by somebody else completely takes you out. There’s not a lot of room for error, where you can save a race car, or, if you get turned, you’re not gonna get wrecked. It’s a tough place and when they re-did it, both corners look the same, but there is just a little bit different ends on both sides. One and two kind of gets tighter in the center, but it seems like on the exit it seems like it opens up just a little bit more for whatever reason. Three and four doesn’t seem as tight right at the center, but right off of four it gets really narrow. Last year, this place it seemed like the first race it rubbered up really bad, so your car got really tight over the rubber. The second race it just seemed really loose to me all weekend, so it’s very temperature sensitive. Although it’s concrete, it seems like just the way the rubber builds up on the race track is real critical, so it’s a tough place to set up for and you continually have to throughout the weekend and throughout the race keep adjusting.”

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP WORKING ON HERE? “I think it’s just ultimately getting a good balance. I’ve gotten myself in trouble here before where you start being able to run up against the wall and, right away during a weekend, maybe my car is not great on the bottom and I start moving up top, and do the middle and up top and I can be really fast in practice doing that, but you can’t do that in the race all the time. When you’ve got cars lined up on the inside of you it’s hard to be able for you to choose your line, so I think it’s just getting a good balance. Last year taught me a good lesson of what we needed overall because, like I said, the first race we were OK but we weren’t great, and the second race we came back and I just said, ‘Man, I need the car to turn. As long as you make the car turn, we’ll be OK.’ Well, we made it turn and I wrecked three times during the weekend, so I think it taught me a lot about just what kind of overall balance we need and just have a solid race car. Everytime I come here I learn a little bit more about how I need to drive it and what I need to make the car better to drive it right, so it’s just a good overall balance. You need to be maybe just a tick tight, but you can’t be too tight. You definitely need the back end in the race track through the center and up off the corner.”

IS IT MORE DIFFICULT TO SET THE CAR UP FOR A SHORT TRACK VERSUS BIGGER SPEEDWAY? “I think the biggest deal with the shorter race tracks is you get a lot more rubber build up on the race track than say a mile-and-a-half or a two-mile. You get rubber built up on every race track, obviously, but at these shorter ones it just seems like the rubber builds up little spots in the race track where when you hit it, the front end gets really tight. A place like here, Martinsville does it really bad, Phoenix does it, so it’s these type of tracks – Dover is another place with the concrete where you get a lot of rubber build up. When it comes to a mile-and-a-half or anything like that, every place the driver wants it solid in to turn through the center and have good grip off, I mean, that’s what we’re always complaining about and we never have it good enough, but I think on the short tracks it makes it a lot more difficult just because of how the rubber actually builds up on the race track and you’re fighting that more than anything.”

CAN YOU DIVIDE A RACE LIKE THIS UP IN STINTS AND HOW TO YOU PLAN OUT A RACE? “You’ve just got to be patient. In an open-wheel race, you know there are gonna be three stints during the race most likely. There are gonna be two pit stops and you divide up the race. The first stint was always based on fuel mileage, but these races you’ve just got to be patient. You’ve got to see where you’re running on the race track. If you’re inside the top 10, you can kind of take it easy all day and just get to the last 100 laps here. If you’re fighting right on the edge of getting lapped, you’ve got to race tooth-and-nail and try to get everything you can, so it’s more based on how the car is, where you’re running and you’re always trying to get to the last 100 laps of a race or the last 50 laps and really go racing from there, but it’s all judged on how your car is throughout the whole race. If you’re inside the top 10, it makes it a lot easier.”

IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO COME OUT OF THIS WEEKEND WITH A SOLID RUN AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO CONTINUE THE FORWARD PROGRESS YOU’VE SHOWN? “I’ve just got to take everything that comes. Vegas has been my worst race track. We were good at times throughout the race and then we got bad at the end, but there were times in the past where I maybe would have gotten frustrated and tried too hard and got up in the wall and really hurt us. We finished 19th. It’s not where we want to finish, but as long as you can kind of finish inside the top 20 on your bad days, that’s gonna be alright. The same thing here. We’re just gonna work on being solid and see where we are after Saturday practice and how good we are in the race. For me, it’s just continuing the same growth of learning just to get through this race and be smart about it. If we’re good, then we’re gonna run really hard. If we’re not, we’re just gonna try to survive and get all the points we can. The fortunate thing for us so far is all of the Fords have been fast – RPM, Roush Fenway – all of the Fords have been really fast, so Vegas, for instance, we weren’t great but Carl and Marcos were really good, so we’ve got good notes to go off of. Hopefully, we’re the good car this weekend and we just keep doing the right things.”

Credit - Ford Racing

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bristol Race Preview

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
• Allmendinger has made seven starts at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
• Allmendinger enters Bristol in ninth place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
• Allmendinger will make his 120th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend

Allmendinger on Bristol Motor Speedway: “Bristol is one of my favorite places to go. I love that place, but it hasn’t been kind to us lately. It’s a fast little half-mile track and it always has a big crowd full of excitement. I feel like we’ve got a really good short track program and I feel like Bristol is going to be a lot better for us this year. To be ninth in the points after the first three races is a great feeling. Now if we can go to Bristol and have another Top-10 finish, that will be another step in the right direction.”

Spotter Tony Hirschman on Spotting at Bristol: “Bristol is one of the hardest tracks to spot at, especially since they reconfigured it with progressive banking. Everyone used to fight for the bottom of the track and now the car can run on the bottom, middle or top grooves of the track with success. A big part of my job at Bristol is to let AJ know who is running where and to try and keep him up-to-date on where the fastest cars are running. I also have to watch out for trouble ahead. Bristol is so fast and everything happens so quick, you can be a straightaway behind the start of an accident and still get swept up in it. I just have to be on my toes every second of every lap. It feels like I never really get a break, so it's one of the more mentally taxing races that I spot. If I can help get AJ through the race with the Best Buy Ford intact and he comes home with a good finish, it's especially satisfying. There is such a fine line when racing at Bristol, the driver has to race aggressively because that's the nature of the track, but yet still take care of the car for all 500 laps so he still has something to race at the end. That's the main thing that I try to remind AJ of all day long.”

Hirschman on Working with Allmendinger: “This is the third year I've worked with AJ. We started working together in 2009 and I really enjoy working with him. One thing I can always say is that he gives 100 percent every single lap. He's not out there to just ride and make laps, he’s out there to pick up positions and win races. AJ and I have a great working relationship, it's been rewarding to watch him mature as a driver over the last three seasons. I look forward to continued progression as a team and getting our first win together. We've improved every year in the points and we’re all looking at the big picture. We want to be in contention for the Chase, and I think that is a realistic goal for all of us on the No. 43 Best Buy team.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team has prepared chassis No. 710 for this weekend’s event at Bristol Motor Speedway. This will be the first time this Best Buy Ford has been run in 2011.

Notes: Allmendinger has seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at BMS and has completed 3,247 of 3,507 laps at the .533- mile concrete oval. Allmendinger enters Bristol in ninth place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings.

Voting is under way to determine the 2011 NASCAR Wheaties Fuel Most Popular Driver. Vote for your favorite RPM driver at The 10-week playoff format will return, with the top 10 vote-getters competing for top accolades at the season’s end. Fans can vote once a day for their favorite NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.

Fun Fact: Bristol Motor Speedway is known for its unique driver introductions. Each driver will be introduced to the crowd with a song of his choice playing in the background. Allmendinger has chosen the song “Turn Around” by Flo Rida for his introduction.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Monday, March 7, 2011

Las Vegas Race Recap

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
*AJ Allmendinger started from the seventh position at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
*Allmendinger finished the 400-mile event in 19th place
*Unofficially, Allmendinger sits in ninth place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points after the third race of the season

Race Summary: AJ Allmendinger lined up for the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the seventh position. An early caution period enabled him to communicate to crew chief Mike Shiplett that the Best Buy Ford was tight in the center of the corners. Shiplett called for a chassis adjustment during the first pit stop of the day, which came on Lap 11.

The change made to the car seemed to helped during the early stages of the next run, but as the laps wore on, Allmendinger began to struggle with the handling of the car. Shiplett made air pressure and track bar adjustments during the first several pit stops. The No. 43 machine was caught speeding entering the pits during a routine stop under yellow at Lap 99 and Allmendinger was sent to the tail end of the longest line for the ensuing restart. Following the penalty, he lined up in 22nd position at Lap 102 of the 267-lap event.

Allmendinger patiently began to work his way back toward the front of the field and by Lap 130 held down 13th place. At the midway point of the race, the No. 43 Best Buy Ford remained inside the top 15, but Allmendinger was still working through handling issues. The Richard Petty Motorsports crew made adjustments to the car during every pit stop and when the checkered flag flew, Allmendinger held down 19th place.

Allmendinger remains solidly inside the top 10 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings, holding down the ninth position.

Next Race Information
Date: March 20, 2011
Track: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
Laps: 500 Laps/266.5 Miles
TV Information: 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Radio Information: 1 p.m. ET on PRN and Sirius Radio

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Las Vegas Qualifying Quotes

MARCOS AMBROSE - Stanley Ford Fusion
Qualified 2nd
"It was a great lap. I am so proud of our Stanley team. They took a huge risk to put me on. I had a chance to make it in the sport or get kicked out pretty quick with the change I made for 2011. For Richard Petty to give me the chance like he has and for us to deliver in our third race with a good lap time is great. I am really excited about it. We are in the hunt for the pole and you can’t ask for much more than that."

Post-Qualifying Media Interview
MARCOS AMBROSE, driver of the No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion
CONGRATULATION ON A SUPER QUALIFYING EFFORT AND ON STARTING OUT TOWARDS THE FRONT ON SUNDAY. "Thank you it was a great day for us. My Stanley team has been supporting me through a slow start, be had a crash at Daytona and we had a 16th place at Phoenix. Coming in here I really wanted to step up and with the help of Ford we have an all Ford front row. We got a great bunch in Roush that help us get these cars dialed in like we do. I am thrilled for Richard Petty and thrilled for me and thrilled for Stanley. I took a chance and I really stuck my neck out to see if I had what it took just nice to be up here talking to you and hopefully it will be the same on Sunday."

MARCOS, THAT BRIEF TIME YOU WERE ON THE POLE WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE AND THEN CARL BUMPED INTO YOU WITH HIS CAR? "I am pretty stubborn, stupid and strong and so you can hit me at 30 mph and it doesn’t matter. It is just a great day for us. I have been second a few times now in my cup career in qualifying so I have been bumped out several times and it never feels any nicer. I am really pleased today. Matt [Kenseth] did a great lap and you can’t complain when someone beats you on speed. It isn’t like he lucked into it. He had the fastest car in practice and he delivered when it counted. No bad feelings today and I am just happy for Richard Petty Motorsports who went through a lot at the end of last year. To be strong this early with AJ [Allmendinger] running top three in points it is just a good feeling over there looking forward to hopefully keeping this run going.


HOW DO YOU GET AROUND THE BUMPS IN ONE AND TWO? "I went up the race track and it worked well for me up there. I went there all day and that is where I will try to go in the race as well."


AJ ALLMENDINGER - Best Buy Ford Fusion
Qualified 7th
"The car has been really good so far. It's no secret that this isn't my best track. It felt really good in race trim but struggled a bit in practice because we were a little tight. We made the car a little better but we were still a tad tight there. You never know with this new qualifying format because all the fast guys are coming up behind you. Tar should put us on the edge of the top 15 which isn't too bad here. We should be able to see the front.

NOT BAD FOR A TRACK THAT HAS ALWAYS GIVEN YOU PROBLEMS. "You always want to be better but I think we have a good race car. I have gotten a lot more confident on this race track just in today. I knew we would come here with a lot better stuff than we have ever had. The car is fast. This motor is screaming. There are a lot of fast Fords to go. Hopefully Ford gets the pole."

Credit - Ford Racing

Las Vegas - Allmendinger Media Interview

AJ Allmendinger is off to the best start of his NSCS career, currently standing fourth in points after two races and is just 11 points away from first. Allmendinger put together an 11th place finish at Daytona and ninth place ending at Phoenix on his way to being the top Ford in the point standings to start the year.

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT YOUR START, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE REJUVENATION OF THE RACE TEAM AND THE START TO YOUR YEAR? “I vote we just start the Chase right now. It is still really early, just two races in, but I feel like between Daytona and Phoenix we have had a good race car. We got through all the wrecks and have been a little bit lucky there. This is definitely a lot better start than where we were last year at this point, but it is only two races in. We have to stay calm about that and can’t get too excited. I am happy with where our race team has started and if we can stay focused on getting through this weekend, which is a big one for us because we have really struggled here in Vegas, if we can get through this weekend we will have something to really build on.”

WITH AN OFF WEEKEND COMING UP, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND TO CARRY MOMENTUM THROUGH THE OFF WEEK? “I think that every weekend, whether there is an off weekend coming or not is a really big deal. For me, the biggest thing is that this has been an Achilles heel track for me. We have always struggled here. I missed the first two races in 2007 & 2008 and we have struggled the last two years. I don’t think the off weekend has anything to do with that, but we need to get through this weekend and be strong. That will give us more confidence than anything. This is one of the tracks that I circled on the calendar at the beginning of the year that we had to run well at. I really feel like we are a lot better than when we came here last year, but at the same point we just have to have a good run. The off weekend is what it is and it gives everyone a chance to settle down and figure out where we are after a few races. I think that this racetrack is bigger than anything for me.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL HAVE TO DO TO MAKE YOUR MARK HERE GIVEN WHAT WE HAVE SEEN THE FIRST TWO WEEKENDS? “I think it is just the times in racing right now. The Sprint Cup series is tougher than it has been in a long time. Everyone is fighting for the sponsors and for their jobs. You see that on the race track. Everybody has to be aggressive to be fast. There is a certain level of aggressiveness that you have to have, but at the same point, something I have learned in the last year or so is when to be aggressive and when not to be. For us, we were just biding our time and that wreck happened and we were in the middle of it but were fortunate to get out of it with minimal damage and a clean race car. I think that right now we are in a good position, although it is only race two, that we don’t have to press really hard. We are up there in points and can try to run every lap and be smart and have good finishes. There are guys out there right now that with this points system the way it is are already looking at being over a race behind. Those guys need to push a little more, but we just have to be smart out there. It is tough to say because it is a mile-and-a-half track. Racing could be a little more cautious, but it might not be. We will see when we get out there.”

WHY DO YOU STRUGGLE AT VEGAS SO MUCH? “We only come here once. The first two years I was just trying to make the show and get into the race. In 2009 we were just at that point trying to survive and run every lap without damaging the race car. We didn’t have any more money to race and couldn’t afford wrecking the race car. We came here and had two bad races and we didn’t really have our program set at that point. We hadn’t figure out our cars and we had just switched to Ford and we were trying to learn things. There has always been something here going wrong for some reason and haven’t been really on it. It is just an experience thing I think. I am a lot more confident this time in the race car and know what I want. Even though I haven’t felt that here, I know as a whole what I really want on a mile-and-a-half track. I really believe we will be better than we have ever been here which obviously isn’t that tough to do. I think there has been a combination of factors here, but the biggest thing I think is that we come here early in the year and only race here once. That has always been tough for me.”

I UNDERSTAND YOU VISITED THE GRAND CANYON THIS WEEK. HOW DID THAT GO AND HOW DID YOU LIKE IT? “I told my wife that it is a big hole in the ground. No, it was fun. For us to get away and not really fly home, but stay here on the west coast and do that was good. I am not a big sightseeing person. I always have to be doing something. Walking around and just looking at things is tough for me to do. The last time I was there I was really young, so it was cool to do that and lay back. It is good to do that after a good week of racing. I think she put more pressure on my crew and Shiplett than anybody because she knew if we had a bad weekend I would be a complete ass at the Grand Canyon. It was a really nice place to hang out at and was fun to relax for a couple of days.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BRISTOL AND CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO RACE FANS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO RACE THERE? “It is a crazy place. I remember the first time I went there in 2007 when there was a test there, I was walking out to the edge of the race track and I asked where the race track was and they pointed down under my feet. I was like, ‘No, that isn’t a race track, that is a big bull ring’. Going there for the first time was really cool. I remember that it was insane just trying to get onto the race track and get up to speed. It is a fun place and a place that in the last few races we haven’t ran well at, but it is always one of my favorite places to go to. I always look forward to going there and they pack the place with so many fans. It is a cool race in general. The night race is more of my favorite because it is a Saturday night, short track with packed grandstands. It is a cool, fun place to go to and a tough place to set your car up for now, especially since they changed it. One and two are different than three and four and it is a tough place to get set up for. All in all, it is just a fun race track to go to. That is a place we can take the off week and you really need a week to prepare for that place and get in the mindset for it. Hopefully we have a good run here, have fun in the off week and get set for Bristol.”

DAYTONA RIGHT SIDES HERE? WHAT DO YOU THINK? “I don’t know. We will have to wait and see. It is always hard to tell. The tough thing with these race tracks sitting out here in the desert and only racing once, the place sits for basically a year. They do a truck race and things like that, but the track is always a little more bumpy. It looks like the Nationwide guys were here yesterday and already today so the track has a little rubber on it. Usually when we come here the thing is dusty. They have already cleaned it off and it looks like it already has grooves just looking at it on TV and where the Nationwide cars are running. That will be good. It will be closer to what the race conditions will be like. You never know until you get out there. For me, running it at the beginning of the year and not coming back here a second time, I always take the first five or six laps to just get used to it again before I try to figure out what the car is doing. We will find out here in about an hour.”

YOU SEEM LIKE A GUY THAT COULD HAVE SOME TIGER BLOOD IN YOU. I DON’T KNOW IF YOU HAVE FOLLOWED THE CHARLIE SHEEN STUFF. HAVE YOU AT ALL? “I think we have all followed it a little bit. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t. I am still trying to figure out the whole tiger blood thing though.”

I WAS WONDERING IF YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE BECAUSE YOU SEEM LIKE THE KIND OF GUY THAT WOULD BE INTO THAT. “You know, I laughed. We are in the day in age now where we all get sucked into that stuff. I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite quote, but I do get sucked into that stuff. I try to flip through it and get back to Sports Center or something, but it is like a bad car wreck. You don’t want to look but you have to. It is good times, but I was pretty impressed. He almost had as much Twitter followers when he first joined. He passed me recently. He got to the 1-million mark. I am almost there though. I am at 4,000. We will get there.”

Credit - Ford Racing

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Las Vegas Race Preview

No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
• Allmendinger has made two starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
• Allmendinger enters Vegas tied for third place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings
• Allmendinger has an 11th and ninth-place finish in the first two races of the 2011 season

Allmendinger on Las Vegas Motor Speedway: “Vegas is a really strange place for me; I’ve always seemed to struggle there. When the track is cool it’s got a ton of grip and it’s really fast. When it’s cool, it’s one of the fastest 1.5-mile tracks that we go to. If the track gets hot like it did last year, it’s hard to drive on because it gets very slick. You have to have your car really balanced and you’ve got to have a lot of grip in it. Vegas only has about a groove and a half to race on, so it’s definitely a tough place. Mike Shiplett and I, and this whole Best Buy race team have circled this weekend on our calendars and said if we can go to Vegas and be solid all weekend and have a decent finish, we can be really strong throughout the year. It’s been my Achilles heel for a long time, so I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time I’m a little bit nervous.”

Allmendinger’s Thoughts on the Season: “This is exactly what our team needed to start the year. You always want a little bit more and you always think you can get a little bit more, but all in all I’m happy with our 11th and ninth place finishes at Daytona and Phoenix. I’m glad we’re going into Vegas tied for third in the points, because it’s not the best race track for us, so to have two good finishes under our belts should give us plenty of momentum heading into this weekend.”

Allmendinger’s West Coast Plans: “I’m going to stay out west this week and my wife and I are going to do some sightseeing before Vegas. We’re going to visit the Grand Canyon with our dog and just enjoy some time off. We’ll get to Vegas a few days early and have a little fun until Friday rolls around and then I’ll be ready to get my Best Buy Ford on the track and go racing.”

Crew Chief Mike Shiplett’s Keys to Getting Around Las Vegas Motor Speedway: “Vegas is a very fast 1.5-mile track. You can get loose going into the turns, so we’re going to focus on finding the balance between being loose in and tight in the middle of the corners. Then there are the bumps going into Turns 1 and 2 to deal with. We’ll have to make sure the No. 43 Best Buy Ford’s shocks and springs are right for that situation and make sure the handling on the car is where AJ needs it to be.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team has prepared chassis No. 736 for this weekend’s event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This Best Buy Ford is a new car and has never been tested.

Notes: Allmendinger has two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and has completed 546 of 552 laps at the 1.5-mile oval. Allmendinger enters Vegas tied for third place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings after an 11th- place finish at Daytona and a ninth-place finish at Phoenix.

Allmendinger’s No. 43 Ford Fusion will return to its blue and yellow colors as Best Buy will be the primary partner this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The last time the No. 43 car was ranked this high (tied for third) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings was after the race at Martinsville Speedway on April 26, 1987. Richard Petty was the driver.

Credit - Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Phoenix Race Recap

AJ ALLMENDINGER • No. 43 Valvoline Ford Fusion

■AJ Allmendinger started the Subway Fresh Fit 500 from the 15th position
■Allmendinger was the highest finishing Ford in the event, finishing in ninth place
■Unofficially, the No. 43 is tied for third place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings

Race Summary: AJ Allmendinger lined up in the 15th spot for the start of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday. Allmendinger lost several positions in the early laps of the event while he battled a loose race car, but an early caution flag enabled Crew Chief Mike Shiplett to call his driver into the pits for fresh tires and chassis adjustments.

The Valvoline Ford held down the 25th position at Lap 26 and Allmendinger communicated to the crew that the changes made to the car had helped. A two-tire pit stop under caution at Lap 36 moved the No. 43 Ford just outside of the top 10 for the ensuing restart.

A multi-car accident on Lap 68 changed the complexion of the race. The No. 43 Ford Fusion suffered some minor damage during the accident, but nothing that couldn't be fixed in the pits. The team remained on the lead lap while making the needed repairs.

Allmendinger and the crew worked through a tight handling condition during the middle stages of the race, but broke into the top 10 just past the 100-lap mark. As the race wore on, the car became slightly loose and Shiplett called for chassis adjustments during several stops. Allmendinger's Valvoline machine was the highest running Ford in the latter stages of the race and with just under 50 laps remaining in the event, he informed his crew that the car was the best it had been all day on long runs.

Allmendinger ran 10th with 20 laps to go and worked his way into ninth place by the time the checkered flag flew. Unofficially, the top-10 finish moved Allmendinger into a tie for third place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings.

Allmendinger’s Thoughts After the Race: “I felt like overall we had a good car. We’d either be really good or we’d be a little bit loose and struggle on long runs. I felt like if we could have stayed green a long time we would’ve been really good. All in all, to start the season with an 11th and ninth place finish with as many wrecks as we’ve been in and not actually gotten wrecked is all right. We’ll take it.”