AJ Allmendinger brought some big expectations out West as the NASCAR Sprint Cup moved to Phoenix International Raceway. With three front row starts on the tricky one mile desert oval, there is good reason to expect to see AJ up front. But a very slick track saw him not post the times he was looking for in Friday's practice.
But the weekend outlook improved after qualifying, with AJ recovering from a blown first qualifying lap to muster everything he could for the second lap, chrging through the timers at 26.10 with the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing.
A.J. Allmendinger (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)
“It was okay. You know I messed the first lap up pretty bad and at that point the second lap was just survival. I mean, the track is so sick out there. We struggled a bit yesterday so not sure where that’s going to put us. It could have been a lot worse after that first lap. It’s okay. We’ve got some work to do. First real race with the team definitely got some work to do but the guys are doing a good job. Tomorrow is going to be about survival so we’ll see where we end up and hopefully we get a good run tomorrow.”
ARE YOU SURPRISED HOW MUCH SLICKER THE TRACK HAS GOTTEN DURING THE WEEKEND? “It did it last year, too, so I think it just catches you off guard just truly how slick it is in general. You’re like how slick can it be and then you watch everybody and you’re like no, it’s really slick for everybody. It’s just part of the way this track is.”
IS IT GOOD TO HAVE SOMETHING POSITIVE HAPPENED ON THE HEELS OF A FRUSTRATING NIGHT AT DAYTONA? “Yeah, we’ve got to have a good race tomorrow. It’s tough to not put the pressure on yourself that if you go out there and have a bad run that you’re done. We’ve got to have a solid run. We can’t put ourselves in too big of a hole.”
DO YOU NEED TO AVOID THE OUTSIDE LINE TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE HERE ON SUNDAY? “It’s weird because last year the outside lane actually came in and I feel like third row on back you were better to be on the outside so you didn’t get pinned down. I don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We’ll see.”
DO YOU THINK THE TRACK IS GOING TO CHANGE A LOT DURING THE RACE TOMMOROW? “No. I think it’s going to start off real slick. I don’t think it will be as slick by the end of the race because it’ll be cooler and that’s kind of the way it worked out last year but it’s definitely going to be slick overall.”
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO HAVING A GOOD FINISH IN THE RACE? “Just making no mistakes. There’s going to be plenty of opportunity to make mistakes so you’ve just got to go out there and just make a minimum amount of mistakes.”
Credit - Penske Racing PR