--AJ Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be racing their “PRS-812” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Darlington. This chassis has been raced only once to date; in the March 11 race at Las Vegas. Dinger started 14th and had moved up to sixth in that race before fuel system issues relegated him to the garage for repairs. The “PRS-814” chassis will serve as the backup. It is a new Dodge Charger and has yet to make it onto a race track.
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger says the best word to describe the 1.366-mile egg-shaped Darlington Raceway is “tough.” “It is definitely a tough race track,” Dinger said. “I drove on it once before it was repaved and it was such a challenge then. Now that it's been repaved, it's demanding in a different way because it's so fast you can't make a mistake. It's a tough place. That's all you can say. There's not a lot more to describe it."
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon believes that the occurrence of doing well on Allmendinger’s “less-than-favorite” race tracks can and will continue this weekend at Darlington. In fact, he fully embraces the “Flip-Flop Phenomenon.” “We talked last Friday about how much he didn’t enjoy racing at the Talladega track and it was music to my ears when he said he had the same intense feeling about racing at Darlington,” chuckled Gordon. “There have been so many times this season where we’ve entered the race just hoping to be respectable. Then, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way things went during qualifying and in the race. I look back at races like Vegas, Bristol – and most recently last weekend at Talladega. They were not among AJ’s favorites and he was openly honest in pointing that out. But, during all of those races we showed a lot of strength and had some really fast race cars. We ran top-five or top-10 in all of them and had the potential to finish up there. That’s the approach we are taking to this weekend’s race at Darlington. We know what AJ and our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team is capable of, so we always come into a race weekend thinking positive and hoping to do well. We know that if we can have a fast car ready for him, AJ will have it up front there on Saturday night.”
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger recalled the first time he ever saw Darlington Raceway: "I thought they completely messed up the design of the race track when I got there,” Dinger recalled. “I said, ‘This can't possibly be an oval. What's going on here?’ It's insane to me. The race track is awesome with how narrow it is. What's exciting for me, honestly, is the history of the race track. When you roll through the gates and get there, the history behind the track is something that always excites and motivates me about NASCAR in general.”
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon stopped to reflect on the last few races along the Sprint Cup trail: “We know that we had a potential top-five car at Richmond and again last Sunday at Talladega. At worst, we were solid top-10-capable in both races. But we left with a 16th at Richmond and a 15th at Talladega. We still can find some good out of the last two weeks when it comes to the big picture. They still were days that we had positive momentum. We did progress and move forward. We’re only 10 races into the season and have 16 races to go before the Chase cutoff. So much can happen between now and then. AJ and our whole team see the potential we have. We’ve had fast race cars and have shown the strength to run top-10 every week. You can look at the 24 team (Jeff Gordon) and see a parallel. Two races ago we were 23rd in points; 64 points out of 10th and 32 out of 15th. Even after not getting the finishes we wanted, we still showed positive momentum. We’re up to 20th in points; 60 out of 10th and only 17 out of 15th. What’s most important is for us to continue moving forward.”
--After five career starts at Darlington, Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger enters this weekend looking for his first notable mark in the NASCAR record book. His best start to date was seventh in last year’s Darlington race. His best career finish, a 17th, came in the 2009 visit. His average start is 20.6 and average finish is 27.4 entering this weekend. He is looking to lead his first lap at Darlington. He has an 88.248% lap completion average (1,622 of 1,838 laps).
--AJ Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team have road course testing at Road Atlanta (May 15) and Virginia International Raceway (May 29) on tap in preparation for the June 24 Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, Calif. Test days are also on the calendar for Michigan (June 14), as well as testing at the Milwaukee Mile (June 26).
Credit - Penske Racing PR