--NOTE: Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger is set for media availability Thursday at 3:00 p.m. CDT in the Texas Motor Speedway infield media center.
--AJ Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be racing their new “PRS-821” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Texas. The “PRS-814” is the backup Dodge Charger for the “Double-Deuce” team. It was in the transporter serving as the backup at Las Vegas and at Fontana, but has never seen any track time.
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger is coming off his best career finish (second two weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway) entering this weekend’s return to Texas Motor Speedway. Dinger is hopeful that his Todd Gordon-led team learned greatly during the Martinsville weekend. “There at Martinsville on Friday and Saturday, we weren’t that good,” Dinger offered. “But I think working with Todd Gordon, we found a direction that we can go with to help us in the future. That’s what we’ve been trying to do over these first six weeks -- just trying to learn each other. We’ve been trying to get going in the best direction with the front end. Honestly, the Penske cars are a little bit different from what I’d been used to. We kind of went back in the direction that I had been running the last few years and I think that really helped.”
--Saturday’s Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas will mark the second race for the Penske Racing Dodge Chargers to utilize SRT Motorsports’ newly updated R6P8 racing engines. Dinger weighed in on the situation: “It was really hard to tell at a track like Martinsville. It’s all about trying to get the pieces lighter and the weight lower on the race car. It’s something the Penske guys have been working hard on for really the last year trying to get the thing going. It’s more about the center of gravity. Obviously, you want more horsepower and more torque. Martinsville is pretty hard to see where you stand on that. Our engine ran great there all weekend and hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come. We’ll know more about it after the race at Texas.”
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger started 15th and finished 19th in last spring’s Samsung 500. He started 26th and finished 10th in last November’s AAA 500. “We just fought a loose race car for the entire race last spring at Texas,” Dinger recalled. “We had a great car there last fall. We charged up through the field and ran in the top-10 for most of the race. We went with a two-tire stop late in the race and could have probably finished better than 10th had we gone with four tires instead.”
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger reviewed his most-recent race day…the April 1 Goody’s 500 at Martinsville Speedway…where he posted his best career finish of second:
“I just felt terrible there on Sunday morning. I wound up going to see the nurse actually looking for something for AFTER the race. She said, ‘We’ll give you a shot’ and I said…oh, okay. I started rolling up my sleeve and they said…wait, no, this is going to be in the “glute”…I’d never had a shot in the glute…I said, man it can’t be that bad.
"They hit me with that and…wow what pain! They said it’ll make you feel better. Now I know why…you’ll forget about your cold because your rear end hurts so bad…it dropped me to my knees…I was limping to driver intros…everyone asking me what is wrong…I said I just didn’t want to talk about it…
"It worked…I actually was feeling better when I got in the car and by Monday, I was feeling much better… What really helped was that we had a great race car from the very start…it was about Lap 350 or so…about three-quarters of the way when we had a yellow…I felt kinda worn down, but when you have a good race car, it really helps…
"I was happy about our day and very glad for the finish, but I was really excited about how we ran. We started 27th and slowly worked our way up through the field. We ran strong, kept ourselves in the lead lap and got the lucky dog when we needed it at the end of the long green-flag run…
"We had a top-10 car all day and before the yellow came out, I was going to be happy with an eighth-place. On long runs, we were really good. I felt like we had a fifth or sixth-place car. The short runs, we were tight and had maybe a 12th or `13th-place car.
"I was going to be happy with where we were and obviously got lucky when everybody else started wrecking.
"It was weird and I really didn’t have much time to think about it (the final restart). NASCAR is trying to sort things out and my spotter is saying, okay it looks like you’re gonna be fifth here when we get going again…then he said, no, you’re going to be fourth…then no, you’re third…no, you’re gonna be second…
"I said, wow…I knew it was going to be tough to beat Ryan. We were on four (tires) and he was on two and I knew that was going to be our best shot. As I said, we’d been tight all day on new tires. With him on the inside, I knew it was going to be tough to roll the outside and get the drive off to beat him for two laps. If it’d been like a seven, eight or nine-lap shootout, I think we’d had a really good shot at it.
"To his credit, he raced me clean. He gave me the chance to beat him on the outside. If he’d roughed me up, I would have come back at him and moved him out of the way. But, he raced me clean. I’ve always lived by the theory of you race people like you get raced. Ryan and I have had some good battles. We’ve had some tough battles.
"I didn’t want to be the guy who just came in there and slammed everybody out of the way. I didn’t want to slam the leader out of the way to get my first win. I didn’t want to be the guy to have that kind of controversy over you. Like I said, though, if he’d gone down into Turn 3 with me outside him. If he’d used me up there in the middle of the corner, then to me that’d been fair game and it might have been okay for me to go back on down into Turn 1 and knock him out of the way and go on to the win.
"But he raced me clean and gave me the chance to win. If we’d had a good enough car to beat him on the outside, he gave me the opportunity to do that. We just weren’t rolling the center good enough on new tires to be able to beat him. With that said, I was happy with our day. The Shell-Pennzoil Dodge had a good day and a great finish.”
--In eight career starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger is still looking for his first win and top-five finish. He has scored two top-10s, including the 10th in the most-recent visit to TMS for last November’s AAA 500. Dinger has an average start of 18.8 and average finish of 20.6 at Texas. He has completed 92.7 percent of possible laps (2,477 of 2,672) and is still looking to lead his first lap at TMS.
--Testing we will go…AJ Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team will be incredibly busy between races for the next few months. On the schedule is a tire test at Dover on April 17-18, along with road course testing at Road Atlanta (May 15) and Virginia International Raceway (May 29). Test days are on the calendar for Pocono (June 6-7) and Michigan (June 14), as well as testing at the Milwaukee Mile (June 26).
Credit - Penske Racing PR