Friday, May 18, 2012

All-Star Showdown Pole Winner Transcript

AJ Allmendinger (No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)
Qualified 1st “That was a good lap. More than anything the car just stuck to the racetrack. I was letting it free up off it, so it wasn’t anything scary. You know, we struggled a little bit in practice. The Pennzoil Dodge had speed in it but wasn’t really comfortable so Todd Gordon (crew chief) and the guys went to work. When you’ve got an impound race like this you’ve got to come up with a good race setup and just throw the qualifying areas at it. The car was really good, good starting spot, but we’ve got 40 hard laps to get in this thing (All-Star race).”

YOU HAVE BEEN FAST HERE ALL DAY. “Yeah, it was kind of an interesting day. Our Dodge had speed in it, but I never really felt comfortable with it. Just trying to figure out what areas we needed to work on. That was the problem; we kind of fought every area at one point. Todd Gordon and the guys, they went to work and we tried to come together and put all the notes we had from the practice session. The car was perfect in qualifying. Forty hard laps tomorrow and we’ll see what we have.”

YOU HAVE TWO SHORT RUNS IN THE SHOWDOWN TOMORROW NIGHT. IS THAT UNUSUAL TO PREPARE FOR IN PRACTICE THAN WHAT YOU DO ON A NORMAL RACE WEEKEND? “You still need the car to be good in a decently-sized run. You’ve really got to figure out if you’re going to pit or not. If you’re not, you’re really going to have to save those tires. We’ll see, but I was happy with the lap. Hopefully, with the impound race, we’ve got everything that we need for a good run tomorrow and, at least, gives us the best shot at this thing that we can get.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE LAP? “The Pennzoil Dodge was fast. The car was perfect in qualifying. It was as good as the lap could get. I was kind of hoping when I came across the line that it was a good lap ‘cause if it wasn’t, I didn’t know what else to do because that was pretty solid. Just a little bit of a struggle today early on trying to figure out what we needed; was never really comfortable with the car. Todd Gordon and the guys did a good job to come up with something good, especially being an impound race. You’re going to need this car to be good in race trim since we’re not really going to get to adjust on it. A good starting spot and hopefully we can run 40 solid laps and get this thing in the show (All-Star race).”

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU STAND FOR THE FAN VOTE? “I think we’re right there, now how close right there is I don’t know. With that said, I think that everybody needs to keep voting for me. We need all the help we can get. I’ll do sad face, happy face, whatever face you need to get me in. Hopefully, in the end, we don’t need that. Hopefully, we race our way in like I want to.”


“For me it was a perfect lap. I felt in practice we struggled a little bit just trying to figure out what the car needed. Todd Gordon and the guys put together a good setup and I felt like that was as perfect as I could run a lap. Obviously with a short race, track position is going to be everything. The car felt good. Being an impound race, that’s a good sign for tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough race. We’ve got to be smart at that pit stop trying to figure out whether we’re going to pit or not. It’s really going to be determined by how the car is the first 20 laps. So far so good. Just happy to put the car up front and at least have a good shot at this thing.”

TWO WEEKS AGO ROGER PENSKE SAID HE REALLY LIKED THE WAY YOUR RACE TEAM IS GOING. DO YOU FEEL LIKE IF THINGS HAD GONE A DIFFERENT WAY HERE OR THERE THAT YOUR RESULTS WOULD HAVE LOOKED A LOT DIFFERENT? “I think the good thing is that we’ve had a lot of speed pretty much everywhere we’ve went. And even when we do struggle, our struggle is I would say 15th to 17th-place speed. The cars have been really fast. Obviously, it’s been showing all year. Brad (Keselowski) winning a couple races and us qualifying up front and running up front. It’s hard to look at the points and look at the results and take positives out of it. Ultimately this is more competitive than I’ve ever been. I’m up front a lot more than I’ve ever been, qualifying a lot better. The results, for whatever reason, whether it’s our own failures or last week getting caught up in a wreck that we had nothing to do with, it’s just the way it is. It’s the way this sport can be sometimes. Jeff Gordon is the same way right now. I forget it’s only my 10th race with the team, it’s only the 10th race for Todd Gordon ever crew chiefing the Cup car. Once we kind of get everything together and we can put a full race in, I feel like we’ll have a chance to win a lot of races. The toughest thing is just looking at those points. You know Roger, when it comes to a team owner, it’s the best I’ve ever had especially just knowing what it’s all about, knowing how this sport is and having patience. I’m the one up there (saying) we’ve got to go now and he’s the one like ‘It’s okay, we’ll be fine.’ When you have a team owner like that and an organization around you that says that, it makes it a little bit easier.”

FIRST-PLACE IN THE ALL-STAR RACE PAYS $1 MILLION. CAN YOU SPEAK TO WHAT THE FIGURE MEANS TO A DRIVER? “Yeah, I mean, I’m not speaking for anybody else, but for me, that number, I don’t even think about it. To me, it’s the prestige of trying to win the All-Star race. You’re not going to sit here and say the money doesn’t matter or doesn’t affect you. It’s always nice to have extra cash in your pocket but at the same point, when it comes to the All-Star race, the money is the last thing that is the reason why I want to win it. I just want to win it because I’d love to be able to be an All-Star champion for that night. When you win the All-Star race, you’re the best of the best. Everybody had everything out there; everybody laid it on the line. There was no holding back. That’s what makes this race so much fun. It’s not about points, it’s not about holding back. Everybody is giving everything that they have in those segments and if you can beat ‘em, then you’re the best that night. That’s something that would be pretty amazing to have. The first step is I’ve got to get through 40 laps tomorrow and get to that point. Hopefully we can do that and have a chance. I feel like we have a fast enough car. If we get in the All-Star race, we’ll have a chance at the thing.”

WOULD A WIN IN THE SHOWDOWN STILL BE A WIN IN YOUR BOOK? “Of course. You know there’s still fast guys in there. You look at (Martin) Truex and (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. You can argue that’s two of the best guys in the Sprint Cup Series and they’re in the Showdown. To go win the thing, it’s always nice to get a victory even if it’s not against everybody but more importantly, to win the thing you have a chance to go win the important one. I got the win in ’08 and it’s an amazing feeling. Everybody on this race car, everybody with this organization, my pit crew, my road crew, everybody back at the shop, they deserve to have this car in the All-Star race so I’m going to do everything I can. Hopefully, we have a chance at the end of 40 laps to get in the show and if we do that, then we’ll have a fun night.”

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