Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Allmendinger: A moment with Roger Curtis

Daytona Race Recap

Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger finished 34th in Monday’s weather-delayed Daytona 500 here at Daytona International Speedway. Starting 15th, Dinger never had the opportunity to show his car’s strength after an unusual incident on pit road sent him to the garage area for repairs early in the race. He returned to the track running in the 38th position and rode it out to finish 34th.

The 54th Annual Daytona 500 will go down in the record books as one of the most bizarre races in the history of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. This year’s edition of stock car racing’s “Super Bowl” was the first-ever rescheduled Daytona 500. Actually, it was rescheduled twice – from Sunday till Monday at 12:00 noon and then till Monday at 7:00 p.m.

When the race finally did get started, it took five hours and 41 minutes to complete, with the checkered flag coming out at 12:56 a.m. on Tuesday. The race was delayed for a little over two hours after Juan Pablo Montoya had mechanical issues that sent him spinning into a jet dryer in the Turn 3 area of the track with 40 laps remaining. The impact caused a huge explosion and fire that had to be extinguished and cleaned up. Fortunately, Montoya and all the track safety workers escaped without serious injury.

As for Allmendinger, he hit pit road under the second caution period on Lap 15 expecting to do just a fuel-only pit stop. Ryan Newman had brought out the yellow when he spun heading onto the backstretch. Newman had hit pit road for service. Dinger was on pit road and heading for his pits when Newman merged in front, lost a left-front tire and came to an abrupt halt. Dinger had no place to go and slammed into the rear of Newman’s car.

By the time the No. 22 Dodge made it to the pit box, fluid was spewing from underneath. The crew lifted the hood and deduced that the radiator had been broken. They immediately pushed their car back to the garage area and began making repairs. By the time they changed radiators and replaced most of the ducting, Dinger was 25 laps down. He returned to the track on Lap 39 and the team just had to make the best out of a dismal situation.

“A tire fell off a car that was struggling in front of us on pit road, he stopped – and I ran into him,” a disappointed Dinger said. “Our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger ran well and it was fast, but we have a 34th-place finish to show for it. It (stinks) because the guys did a good job. It was a just a frustrating night for us, but we’ll bounce back strong at Phoenix.”

The race was slowed by 10 cautions for 42 laps. Only 22 cars completed all 202 laps here today. Three cautions during the final 19 laps eliminated several top competitors, including Allmendinger’s Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski.

In the green-white-checkered finish, Matt Kenseth got a great restart and went on to take his second career Daytona 500 win when teammate Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t muster enough strength to get by in the tri-oval. Kenseth emerged as a 0.210-second winner over Earnhardt, with Biffle finishing third, Denny Hamlin fourth and Jeff Burton fifth. Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Mark Martin rounded out the top-10 finishers.

The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads to Phoenix International Raceway for next weekend’s Subway Fresh Fit 500. The action at PIR kicks off on Friday with practice sessions set from 12:30 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. Saturday’s single round of qualifying at 12:35 p.m. will set the entire 43-car starting field. Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 (500 kilometers/312 laps) has a 1:00 p.m. local (3:00 p.m. ET) start and features live coverage by FOX-TV, MRN Radio and Sirius/XM NASCAR Channel 90.

Daytona Post-Race Quotes

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)
Finished 32nd
WHAT TOOK MORE DAMAGE IN THE ACCIDENT, YOUR CAR OR YOUR PHONE? “The Charger, by far. It’s really disappointing. We fought really hard all race long to be towards the front so you’d be in front of those wrecks, but had to come in and pit under that last yellow and got towards the back. And when something happens and you’re back there, you can’t get out of it. You know, that’s Daytona and that’s how this racing is. It’s been a long few weeks in Daytona and we’ll move on to Phoenix. I think we’ve got really good cars throughout the season. We had a good run tonight and I’m proud of everyone at Penske Racing for that. We’ll take the Miller Lite Dodge on to Phoenix. I want to send a shout-out to all the fans still watching. I know it’s late at night and we had rain delays and fire delays, but you guys are still here and I just want to say thank you.”

YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT HAPPENED? “We did a good job all race long being in front of everything in case something happened and we had to come back in and pit. We had something wrong with the car and that got us behind. Then, the wreck and I was right in the middle of it. It’s Daytona. It’s how it goes.”

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE FIRE? “Well, I knew it was big. I knew we were going to have to stop. It’s a big event. How does that happen is the next question that you ask. What a weird night.”

HOW WAS THE TRACK AFTER THAT? “It definitely had a bump in it, but nothing that we couldn’t drive through so we’re okay.”


HOW BIZARRE WAS THIS RACE? “It’s been a bizarre week. You’ve seen that with the winners in the last few races, but that’s Daytona. You never know what to expect. That’s why it’s such a marquee race for us.”


Paul Wolfe (crew chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

DID YOUR DAY TAKE A TURN WHEN YOU HAD TO PIT WITH JUST 22 LAPS TO GO? “Yeah, I mean obviously, that kind of snowballed from there. Brad did a good job all night. We ran strong and kind of found our way to the front of the field to have a shot at it at the end like we wanted to. I guess we had a loose wheel on that last pit stop and the vibration got so bad he had to pit. We lost what track position we had and found ourselves getting caught up in the mess. Just one of those deals that was a mistake on our part and we had to pay the consequences for it. Definitely frustrating. We made a good run all night and just couldn’t finish it out.”

WERE YOU PLEASED WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR CHARGER TONIGHT? “Yeah, because I felt like we raced hard all day. We didn’t ride around. We decided we wanted to run up front. We needed to be up front and be one of those guys to have a shot at the end. Brad did a great job keeping the car clean all night and we just kind of let him down on the pit stop and got ourselves behind.”


AJ Allmendinger (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) Finished 34th

WHAT HAPPENED ON PIT ROAD? “A tire fell off a pit crew next to us that was struggling tonight and I ran into it. Our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger ran well and it was fast, but we have a 34th-place finish to show for it. It sucks because the guys did a good job. It was a just a frustrating night for us, but we’ll bounce back strong at Phoenix.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daytona 500 Race Preview

AJ Allmendinger labeled last Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout as a "learning experience" that will have him better prepared for the upcoming Daytona 500 weekend. Dinger is optimistic about his Todd Gordon-led Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team's chances in Thursday's qualifying race and Sunday's 54th annual running of the Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway.

"We certainly learned a lot out there last weekend," said Allmendinger, who finished 12th in last Saturday night's special non-points race. "Pack racing is back, that's for sure. That was very evident in the Shootout. We saw several different strategies. Some teams went all out from the drop of the green. Others, like us, took a ‘hang back and wait' approach. That almost paid off for our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team there at the end.

"The new package we're racing with gives the driver more control of the car and that's a good feeling to have," offered Allmendinger, who will start ninth in Thursday's second Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race. "But if you're running in a huge pack of cars that's three-wide and eight-deep, that control turns out to be not much in avoiding getting caught up in the big crashes. That's what we saw last Saturday night.

"There's just such a fast closing rate with the new package," said AJ. "That's what we're seeing. If you're not hooked up, the guys who are hooked up can get a really good run. We saw so many situations where cars were getting into the left-rear of the guys running in front of them. That's what triggered the big crashes out there and is what we have to be aware of again this week.

"Hopefully in the Duels, we'll see guys trying to take car of their cars a bit more," Dinger said. "You know it's your 500 car and you don't want to damage it. Everybody is still out there to go for the win and get a good starting spot for Sunday, but hopefully it'll be a little calmer out there on Thursday than it was last Saturday night."

One might say that the strategy utilized by Allmendinger and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski was one of survival last weekend at Daytona. Perhaps the words of wisdom made famous by legendary Penske driver Rick Mears - "To finish first, you must first finish" - were adhered to?

"Like we've been saying ever since we arrived in Daytona, we're focusing on the big picture," said crew chief Gordon. "Last Saturday night, it didn't matter where you were running after 25 laps and it didn't matter where you were running after 70 laps. The objective was to be in the position to go for it at the right time.

"It will be the same goal out there in our qualifying race and in the 500," Gordon said. "It's 60 laps of racing on Thursday and 200 laps on Sunday. The purpose for being out there in the first place is to win and you can't do that if you're on the hook and being pulled back to the garage. Our strategy will remain the same and that's to do what it takes to be in a position to win at the end of the race.

"AJ's tremendous focus and level of patience have been so impressive," Gordon said of his driver. "We've been working so well with our teammates over on the No. 2 team. You can expect to see AJ and Brad (Keselowski) hooking up together a lot from Wednesday's practice on this week. Since we're in different duels on Thursday, we'll get a plan going as for someone to run with in that race."

In five career Gatorade Duel qualifying races, Allmendinger has posted three top-10 finishes, finishing seventh in both 2010 and 2011 editions. He has been running at the finish and completed all the laps for four consecutive Duels.

Allmendinger's third-place finish in the 2009 Daytona 500 rates as his best result to date in seven career points races on the 2.5-mile track (three starts in the Daytona 500 and four starts in the July Coke Zero 400). He started 15th and drove to an 11th-place finish in last year's Daytona 500.

"We started 15th and were able to head to the front and lead early in the race," recalled AJ, who was credited as leading four of the first 12 laps. "Then we settled into a situation where we ran like 15th to 20th for much of the race. It was another day when it seemed like every time we were moving up, a slow stop on pit road would set us back. We were able to capitalize on the cautions and come up with a respectable 11th-place finish.

"While that third in the 2009 Daytona 500 might be the best finish for us in the record book, it wasn't the strongest car we've had in the race," said Dinger. "We had a rocket ship there for the 500 in 2010. We changed engines and had to start at the rear of the field, but were able to blast up through the pack to lead. I think we had the car to beat until they had problems with the track and the pothole got us."

Allmendinger, Gordon and crew are racing their "PRS-642" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this week's action at Daytona. Thursday's qualifying race will mark its first time in racing competition. The "PRS-626" will serve as the team's backup Dodge Charger this week.

Daytona 500 - Allmendinger Media Transcript

AJ Allmendinger (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)

“To come back to a race track after going out there and having a great race, a fun celebration with Michael Shank, to roll into the tunnel and remember what it meant to win (the Rolex 24) and possibly have a chance to do something that I don’t think a lot of people have done – win the Rolex and Daytona 500. There’s a lot that goes into that race for the 500 miles and playing it out right. Obviously the Shootout was crazy. Overall for me, I think the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge is quick. We have a fast race car. We’re going to have a shot at it, but there are a lot of guys that will too. Hopefully, we’ll play it smart and be in the right position at the right time at the end of the race.”

“I don’t know if there are huge surprises. I think how open the team was when I got there and excited the team seemed to be. In that big race shop, there’s a lot of people in there and to walk in there everyday and have people say they can’t wait for the season to start and we’re so happy to have you here, we’re looking forward to it and that kind of stuff. I always knew that their team was run well and the way that they went about things, but just to see how clean that race shop is and see how smooth everything is run amongst the team. Everybody knows their role there and is doing their jobs. It’s fun to see and be around it. It makes me walk in and be even happier to be there.”

“A couple wrecked race cars from the weekend (laughs). Sweet. Happy Birthday to you Roger! (laughs). Just like I tell everybody else in my life, just love.

“It is kind of funny though, he called me on his birthday. To me, that shows me just how impressive Roger Penske is. He’s out on vacation on his birthday with his family, supposed to be relaxing, and he’s texting me. I’m sure he’s doing the same to Brad (Keselowski) and the rest of the race team. He was telling me he’s sorry that he wasn’t at the Shootout. Hopefully we put last week behind us and all the wrong places that we put in and have accidents.”

“Yeah (laughs). What do you get someone that has everything?”

“I don’t know because, so far, my approach hasn’t worked. I think with the Shootout, it’s tough to call. It’s going to be interesting to see how everyone is going to race. In the Shootout, it’s like we dropped the green and everybody had all this anxiety and hadn’t raced all winter and it was time to go. I think that if everybody just plays it a little bit more cool for the Duels, maybe I’ll try to get up there in the mix (it up) and maybe go for the lead. If not, maybe just hang back again. Of course you’d like to win the Duel, but the thing coming out of the Duel is not having a wrecked race car. I look at it with 10, 5 to go, kind of that opening, try and take the lead and go for the win. If not, maybe make one run at it and if that doesn’t work, bail out and at that point it doesn’t matter. To me it’s still open, still tough to figure out how it’s going to play out. It depends on how everyone wants to race and how aggressive they want to be.”

“No. I think every step of the way, for me, I’ve grown as a person and learned life lessons. I enjoy being in the Sprint Cup Series. This is the place that I really want to be. I’ve always been excited about it. Obviously there have been some ups and downs to get to this point right now. I think that everything happens for a reason. It’s the same thing three-years ago when I was calling Tim Cindric trying to get a ride and it didn’t work out. I never look back and think where I could have been five or six years ago. I just know that where I am, I’m very happy. I’m excited about the opportunity. For me now, it’s looking forward and trying to do everything that I can to keep this opportunity and do the right things with it.”

“I think it’s the same thing, good and bad. It’s always a little bit scary to make change; at least it is for me. You get into a place where you’ve been for a while and get comfortable and use to how everything is run. You get use to the people, good and bad. You know how everything daily is going to run and where you need to be. You make a change and everything is different. You have to go out there and figure out where you need to be, new schedules. You try to learn everybody and everybody’s tendencies and understand what they want. At the same time, that’s the exciting part. To see everybody new, to see the excitement and see things are run at a different race team. To me it’s been really, really good. At RPM, I really enjoyed the people there. At the end of the year when (Penske) wasn’t even on my radar, I was happy to be (at RPM). When you get an opportunity like this with the Penske organization, to be a driver of Mr. Penske, for me to walk into the shop, you just see all the pictures from (Mark) Donohue on down to Rick Mears and continuing, that to me is exciting.”

“For me it’s simple; win races and make the Chase. And when you get into the Chase, it’s just like any other playoff format in other sport, anything can happen. I look at it as I was 13th when the Chase started last year, I missed (the Chase) by one spot, finished top-15 in points. To make this change and the reason I made it was to go out there and raise my game to the next level, become one of those drivers who contend for race wins every weekend. It’s so tough to win these races. You have to put yourself in position at least 20 to 25 times during the year to maybe win a couple of them. You can’t put yourself in position four or five times a year and expect to win one. Hopefully we can do that. With the change being so late to start the season, we got to hit singles before we expect homeruns, to go to Daytona and win the 500, go to Phoenix and win that race. Ultimately it’s tough to do that. You have to be consistent and not make mistakes and put us in position to win races; anything less than that will be a disappointment. That’s not the outside world, that’s me personally, that’s the way that I look at it. Shell/Pennzoil has had a lot of drivers that have won championships, a lot of races in their race cars. They expect a high level. Mr. Penske himself expects a high level. Nobody put that pressure on me as I do.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Daytona Qualifying Report

Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger was 18th fastest in Sunday’s qualifying session for the Feb. 26 Daytona 500. That means “Dinger” and the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge Charger will start ninth in the second 150-mile qualifying race this Thursday here at Daytona International Speedway.

In the unique qualifying format for “The Great American Race,” only the front row – the Coors Light Pole Award winner and the second-fastest qualifier – are locked into next Sunday’s starting field. Roush Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle earned those honors, with Edwards turning in a fast lap of 46.216 seconds (194.738 mph) and Biffle just behind with a 46.371-second (194.087 mph) lap.

“A solid qualifying run for our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger,” Allmendinger said of his 46.603-second (193.121 mph) lap around this historical 2.5-mile tri-oval track. “I gave it all that I had. I thought we might be a touch quicker from yesterday. It’s hard to tell as heavy as the wind is today. It’s good to know that the Penske guys build race cars exactly the same because our times (the No. 22 and No. 2 cars’) have been right on top of each other throughout all of practice. We didn’t think that we had a shot at the pole. Our car has been good. I’m excited about the race. With the way that we ran last night, I know that our cars are fast.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (46.385 seconds/194.028 mph) was third fastest, with Marcos Ambrose (46.392 seconds/193.999mph) fourth and Casey Mears (46.429 seconds/193.844 mph) fifth. Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne and Tony Stewart rounded out the 10 fastest drivers here today.

Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led team immediately turned their focus to Thursday’s 150-mile qualifying race. After Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout turned into a “crash fest,” it can be expected that the Penske Racing teams will again take the conservative approach.

“You don’t want to tear up a race car before the 500,” Dinger said. “I think it’s two things; if you have a chance to win the 500 with five laps to go, then you get after it. If it’s a struggle and you’re midpack, fifth to eight, then you try to play conservative and not wreck your car. It’s all about where you position yourself with three or four laps to go like we did last night.”

After a couple of days off, action returns to the “World Center of Speed” on Wednesday with practice sessions set for 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. till 4:00 p.m.

The first of Thursday’s (Feb. 23) “Gatorade Duels” 150-mile qualifying races gets the green flag at 2:00 p.m. ET. Live coverage of all the action will be provided by SPEED-TV and MRN Radio. The Sunday, Feb. 26 Daytona 500 has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. ET starting time here at Daytona International Speedway. FOX-TV, MRN Radio and Sirius-XM NASCAR Channel 90 will provide live coverage of all the action.

Credit - Penske Racing

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bud Shootout Race Recap

AJ Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon led Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team entered tonight’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway with survival strategy in play. To say that the new “Double-Deuce” driver/crew chief duo proved accurate in their assessment of what the 75-lap non-points race would hold would be an understatement.

Only 10 of the 25 drivers completed all 82 laps. Allmendinger, who finished 12th, came within a whisker of having a great shot to win in his first time out driving for Penske Racing. The super-competitive, but always-affable “Dinger” was disappointed, yet found some solace in tonight’s race.

“We were right there, about a half-a-corner from being perfect,” offered Dinger. “We have some things to work on, but we learned some things, too. The Shootout was crazy and our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge was really fast. I had the top rolling and we were going to the lead when the wreck happened. That’ll occur in this kind of racing. I am really looking forward to the (Daytona) 500.”

Allmendinger lined up ninth for tonight’s two-segment battle. But, because the team had to call on its backup car after getting caught up in a practice crash here yesterday, they had to fall to the rear. Dinger, Gordon and crew had no problems at all with doing that.

“Having to drop to the rear for the start actually was a plus,” said Gordon, making his debut atop the pit box for a Sprint Cup team here tonight. “The strategy for both Penske Teams was to fall back behind the big pack and steer clear of the multi-car crashes. It worked till the very end. Unfortunately, we got enough damage during the last crash that it cost us a good shot at winning here tonight.”

A multi-car crash in the first 25-lap segment eliminated three of the 25 starters from the competition and wounded another three cars. After starting last on the field, Dinger was 18th at the conclusion of the first segment.

The “hang back” strategy continued on into the final 50-lap segment. However, when all the leaders had pitted after Clint Bowyer spun to bring out the yellow on Lap 31, Dinger stayed out and led Lap 34. He then hit pit road for fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

Another multi-car crashed occurred on Lap 54 when Joey Logano got shoved by Martin Truex Jr., triggering the incident that sent another four cars to the garage area. Dinger was able to again escape unscathed.

The final “big one” occurred on Lap 74 when contact between Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch sent Busch fluttering on the low side. Busch was able to survive, while Gordon veered up the track and into the stacked-up cars in the outside lane. The impact sent Gordon flipping twice before skidding down the track on its roof. Fortunately, he escaped without injury.

Dinger did all he could in braking and maneuvering, but still sustained major damage to the left-rear quarter-panel of his Dodge. He was forced to hit pit road twice under the yellow to attempt making repairs. The team sawed off part of the sheet metal and attempted to use “bear-bond” to hold the remaining sheet metal together.

The lengthy repairs saw Dinger running a straightaway behind the lead pack on the green-white-checkered restart. When he blasted down into Turns 1 & 2, the damaged sheet metal cut down a tire. He spun and was forced to nurse his car back around to the garage just as the race was ending.

The exciting finish saw Kyle Busch use the outside lane to sweep by Tony Stewart in the tri-oval to win by only 0.013 seconds, the closest finish in the Shootout’s history. Marcos Ambrose finished third, with Penske teammate Brad Keselowski fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth. Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-10 finishers.

“It was just a matter of figuring out when was the right time to go and make your move to the front,” said crew chief Gordon. “One thing we learned here in this race is the importance of patience. AJ really showed his ability to be patient out there tonight. I expect that we’ll see more of this kind of racing here in Thursday’s qualifying races and in next Sunday’s Daytona 500.”

Credit - Walldinger Racing

Friday, February 17, 2012

Allmendinger - Media Day Interview

AJ Allmendinger (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)

HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR THIS YEAR? “We tested in Nashville for two day and tested at Disney World. I feel like the team is gelling really well with Todd Gordon (crew chief) and the guys. For me, it’s been fun to be at the track and hang around with them. It’s hard to say, we were at Nashville and it was 35 degrees. Walt Disney World, that track isn’t like any other track that we race at. Just to get in the car, go through some changes. More than anything, for Todd and me build a language barrier together to where when I communicate; he knows what I’m saying. All those things have been really good. Speedweeks in its own, anything can happen. Like Phoenix and beyond is what I’m really excited about and really see where we’re at as a race team.”

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS THIS YEAR? “I expect everything out of myself. You look at the reason that I made this move is that I want to make the next step in my career and the next step is to win races and make the Chase. I was 13th spot when the Chase started last year; I was one out. You look at what the team (Penske Racing) did last year by putting both cars in the Chase. And Shell/Pennzoil, the drivers they’ve had in their race car to me are race-winning and race-championship guys. My expectation is on myself. When it comes to people outside of that, they have their own expectations. For me, it all comes from within and that’s winning races and making the Chase. As the season goes on, you have to see where your organization is at and maybe those expectations change. Sitting here right now, anything less than winning races and making the Chase is a disappointment.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DAYTONA 500? “There is so much that goes into it. We’re still all wondering how the race is going to play out. Big pack? Tandem? I think the good thing is that if it’s a tandem, my teammate Brad and I worked really well together at the test and focused on what we wanted and how to work together. Our cars are fast. Dodge, with all the resources going into our race cars, we had good stuff. I think we’ll have speed, it just matters how the race plays out. I think that if we can work together, going through the Shootout, Duels and getting into the 500, then we’ll have a pretty good idea on how the racing is going to be. More than anything else, I was excited about how Brad and I worked together. If we can do that, whether it’s a tandem or pack, if we can stick together as a group, we have a chance to being up front at the end of the race.”

DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO THINK WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500? “No. We’re way too early to think about that.”

DO YOU HAVE A FANTASY OF HOW WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 WOULD BE? “I go to bed every night coming off Turn 4 and making the pass on whomever for the win and going into Victory Lane. It’s all a fantasy until it becomes a reality. There are so many steps that go into a 500 race around this place and so much that can happen. I almost think that you take it every 10 laps of the race. With 20 to go, you’re seeing how your car is; all the fenders and all the pieces still on it and then you start to figure out where you need to be the last couple of laps. That’s what makes this place fun.”

Credit - Dodge Racing PR

Allmendinger: Daytona Media Day

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bud Shootout Race Preview

AJ Allmendinger is eager to get the next chapter of his career under way this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. His debut driving Penske Racing’s No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge comes in Saturday’s non-points Budweiser Shootout on the famous 2.5-mile tri-oval track.

“It’ll be a huge moment in my career when I take the green flag there on Saturday night as a driver for Roger Penske,” said Allmendinger, the 30-year-old Los Gatos, Calif., native. “We’ve been looking forward to this occasion for several months now and it’ll be great to finally get the 2012 season under way.

“We were out at Shell and Pennzoil’s headquarters in Houston last week and our sponsors were quick to let me know that their car has won the Shootout three out of the last five years. So there’s absolutely no pressure at all going into Saturday’s race,” chuckled “Dinger,” as he’s come to affectionately be known by the media and fans alike. “Seriously, they all know what racing on the restrictor-plate tracks involves, so there’s not really any additional pressure on us.

“Sure, we’d love to be able to kick the season off with a win in the Shootout there on Saturday night and we’ll be trying our best to do that,” Dinger said, “But, our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team already has the big picture in mind even before Daytona Speed Weeks begin. We definitely hope to start the schedule off with a lot of success, but everyone knows how much luck comes into play at Daytona and Talladega

“I’ve had so many media guys ask me if I thought this would be the best shot I ever had of winning at Daytona. Like I’ve told them, I don’t necessarily feel like this will definitely be my best opportunity at Daytona, but I know it will be my absolute best shot at winning races at all the tracks.”

Allmendinger will be racing in only his second career Shootout on Saturday night. He started 18th and drove to a fifth-place finish in the 2009 edition of the special event.

“In all the seasons before, it was a race where the past year’s pole winners were in the field,” said Dinger. “We had won the pole for the spring race at Phoenix in 2008, but that didn’t have any bearing at all. Instead, it was a situation where the top six teams from each manufacturer were invited.

“I had moved over to drive the No. 44 car for Petty and they were with Dodge,” Dinger explained. “Ganassi had switched from Dodge to Chevrolet when they merged with DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.), so there was quite a bit of jockeying around to see who made the field and who didn’t that year. We were able to get into the race as the final Dodge – their wild card for the race – and had to go last in the draw for our starting spot. We drew 18th.

“In the race, the car had been really fast and right before the break, we were battling for the lead with Jimmie (Johnson),” Dinger recalled. “I felt pretty confident, but at the end there were a lot of accidents. I remember coming through (Turns) 3 and 4, there was a big wreck and I made it through, but got shuffled back to finish fifth.”

Once again, Saturday night’s Shootout’s distance will again be 75 laps (187.5 miles), which will consist of two segments, 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. In between segments, there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing drivers to pit to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Crews will be permitted to work on cars and be allowed to perform functions they would do on a normal pit stop in a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup event. All work must be performed on pit road or in the garage with the changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends not permitted.

“The format doesn’t really bother me,” Dinger offered. “I think maybe the second segment should be shorter to make it more exciting. I think everybody is just going to try and play it cool until the last 10 or so laps and then just go all out.”

Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led No. 22 Penske Racing Team will be utilizing their “PRS-641” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this weekend’s action at the World Center of Racing. It will mark the first race for this chassis.

Daytona Speed Weeks 2012 action gets under way this Friday with Budweiser Shootout practice scheduled from 5:00 p.m. till 5:45 p.m. The final “happy hour” practice for the Shootout is set from 6:30 p.m. till 7:30 p.m. SPEED-TV will cover the practice sessions live as well as the “draw” for starting positions (delayed broadcast starting at 8:30 p.m.) Saturday’s action includes Daytona 500 practices from 11:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. till 3:45 p.m. Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout, a 75-lap battle consisting of a 25-lap segment and a 50-lap segment with a 10-minute break in between, features live coverage by FOX-TV, MRN Radio and Sirius-XM NASCAR Channel 90 and is set to begin at 8:10 p.m. ET.

Qualifying for the front row (Coors Light Pole Award and outside pole) for the 54th annual Daytona 500 is set for Sunday at 1:05 p.m. FOX-TV will provide live coverage.

The first of Thursday’s (Feb. 23) “Gatorade Duels” 150-mile qualifying races gets the green flag at 2:00 p.m. ET. Live coverage of all the action will be provided by SPEED-TV and MRN Radio. The Sunday, Feb. 26 Daytona 500 has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. ET starting time here at Daytona International Speedway. FOX-TV, MRN Radio and Sirius-XM NASCAR Channel 90 will provide live coverage of all the action.
Credit - Penske Racing PR

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

AJ Articles of Interest

Last Best Chance? AJ Allmendinger knows his NASCAR reputation is on the line (Autoweek)http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120130/NASCAR/120139990
Allmendinger: Penske Pride (FOX Sports)
Michael Shank makes good on “the bet” (YOUTUBE Special)
SPEED Best of Race Hub: AJ Allmendinger (NASCAR "RACE HUB" on SPEED-TV)http://www.nascar.com/video/speed/race-hub/120202/speed-hub-allmendinger/ 
Allmendinger & Shank Enjoy the Fruits of Victory (Motorsports Magazine)http://www.motorsport.com/grandam/news/allmendinger-and-shank-enjoy-the-fruits-of-victory/