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.”