Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Martinsville Notes of Interest

--AJ Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be racing their new “PRS-819” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Martinsville. The “PRS-807” is the backup Dodge Charger for the “Double-Deuce” team. It was in the transporter serving as the backup at Phoenix and at Bristol, but has never seen any track time.

--It appears that the “buzzwords” for Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver and crew chief Todd Gordon are “feeling pretty good” as the Sprint Cup tour heads to Martinsville Speedway for the second short-track race of the season.

"I feel pretty good about going into Martinsville,” said Allmendinger. “I like running on those short tracks, but it's so much about staying out of everybody's trouble. I'm hoping that we have had our share of mechanical issues and such so we can finally deliver some follow-through and get the results we’ve been looking for. It will be our sixth race working together this weekend at Martinsville and our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team continues to get stronger every week. The last two weeks have been big for us in that we’ve overcome obstacles to produce some decent results. At Bristol, we were able to qualify up front and lead laps before we had the problem with the right-rear suspension. We were coming on up through the field on Sunday at Fontana before we had the issue with the rear tire. I wish we could have gone back to green. We may not have had a car capable of winning it, but I think we were strong enough to have finished quite a bit better than 15th. I enjoy short-track racing at Martinsville. I always look forward to going there and I’ve run pretty well the past couple of times we’ve raced there.”

“I am really looking forward to getting back to Martinsville,” said Gordon. “AJ has had some pretty strong races there the last few seasons. I’m feeling pretty good about this weekend. I’m optimistic that we can continue to get stronger as a team as we head back to another short track this weekend”

--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon says he knows why his driver prefers to use the term “optimistic” rather than “confident.” “Before the season started, AJ and I took a look at the schedule and he pointed to certain tracks where he expected to do well,” said Gordon. “He mentioned tracks like Martinsville, Phoenix and Dover as places he thought were strong points. As it has turned out, Phoenix was the track we struggled the most on. Then we had Bristol, where he thought it would be a huge challenge and we performed really well there. So, it’s like a flip-flop situation of what he’s expecting and how things have turned out. I can really appreciate him not saying he’s so confident at all of these tracks. He’s taking a realistic approach and that’s fine by me.”

--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon has not been on pit road at Martinsville Speedway since serving as crew chief for Kenny Wallace’s Nationwide Series team in a race there in 2006. He says the key to being successful at Martinsville has remained the same through the years. “You need stability. You know that there’s going to be a lot of beating and banging; it’s just the nature of racing there. That’s a given. You need a car a driver can still control when he gets nudged from behind and underneath into the corners. I’ve always looked at it that I’d be willing to sacrifice the car’s handling some in the middle of the turns if it means the car is really capable of getting into the corners and off the corners well. If you look at the guys who have had success there recently – like Denny Hamlin – their cars are not so strong in the center, but they sure are stout getting into the corners and off the corners.”

--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger will be in Houston Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, enjoying events associated with the Shell Houston Open stop on the PGA Tour. Dinger is scheduled to participate in Wednesday’s Grand Pro-Am. Some of the other celebrities scheduled to compete are NBA great Clyde Drexler, country music star Clay Walker and Frank Beard, drummer for legendary rock band ZZ Top. For additional on all the festivities, please visit the tournament’s site:

--In case you missed it, 13-year-old Kyle Kirkwood was selected last week as the inaugural recipient of the (AJ Allmendinger’s) Walldinger Racing Karting Scholarship. The young Floridian will campaign a full season in the World Karting Association’s Manufacturer’s Cup Series as well as compete at the Rotax Grand Nationals and SKUSA SuperNationals. Kirkwood, who has claimed several victories and championships already in his home state, scored headlines in his first time out for Walldinger. In last weekend’s Zoom Zoom Nationals held at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C., Kirkwood claimed two podium finishes and four top-10s as he made his WKA Manufacturer’s Cup Series debut . Next up on the schedule is the May-4-6 weekend of racing at the Beaver Run Motorsports Complex in Wampum, Pa.

Allmendinger, who received numerous scholarships that helped propel his own career, was looking to give back, and created the karting scholarship in order to help a deserving young karter get the support needed to move up through the racing ranks. Here is a link to a special video that Dinger did with Kirkwood:
For additional information, please visit the “Spin Room” section of Dinger’s site:

--Penske Racing driver A.J. Allmendinger has landed a deal to represent Fuel in a Bottle, a new brand of energy and protein drinks from BYB Brands Inc. As a brand ambassador, Dinger will be part of the company’s marketing efforts through advertising and point-of-purchase promotions. Fuel in a Bottle shots are available in the Southeast. Charlotte-based BYB Brands is a wholly owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, the nation’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler.

--In nine career starts on the tight little .526-mile Martinsville paper clip-shaped track, Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger has posted one top-10 finish (a ninth in the 2009 edition of this race). He has a 21.6 average start and 22.9 average finish at Martinsville. He has an 89.5 percent lap completion average (4,046 of 4,519 laps) and has led a total of 25 laps. He has been funning at the finish in all but one of the races and has finished on the lead lap three times.

--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger started sixth and finished 14th in the spring race at Martinsville last season. He came back last fall to drive from a 16th-place start to an 11th-place finish.

“In last spring’s Martinsville race, we were really loose at the beginning, but made some great adjustments,” Dinger recalled. “We ran in the top-five or top-six most of the day. At times, I thought we could win, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We pitted with about 35 laps to go and the yellow came out. We got trapped a lap down and it was just too late to make it up. We had a top-five car there in that race, but just didn’t get the finish to match.

“In the fall race, we started by points after Saturday qualifying got rained out,” Dinger said. “We were really good at the beginning of the race and drove to the front to lead some laps. We kept making adjustments trying to get more rear grip and ran in the top-10 most of the race. We got caught up in two different crashes in the final 100 laps and had to come from the rear. We were 22nd on a restart with 50 to go. In the final six laps, we went from 15th up to finish 11th.”

Credit - Penske Racing PR

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