Saturday, May 5, 2012

Talladega Qualifying Quotes

AJ Allmendinger (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)
Qualified Second
“The Shell/Pennzoil Dodge qualifying run was a little surprising. I didn’t get to make a full-blown Q (qualifying) run yesterday, so we weren’t really sure what we had. It had nothing to do with me. All the guys in the Penske organization back at the engine shop, everybody that design these cars and puts the horsepower under them; it shows them off on a day like this. It’s really cool to see that we’ve got some speed. I don’t think that will be pole, but it was a good surprise. It’s really cool to see the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge have this much speed. It shows the effort everybody in the Penske organization puts in these race cars. It was a good lap for sure. It shows we have a lot of horsepower and a fast racecar for tomorrow.”

STARTING UP FRONT, IS THAT IMPORTANT AT THIS TRACK? “No. Qualifying in the end doesn’t really matter. If you get the pole, you can at least feel like you’re best for a day. We’ll be at the front to the back, the back to the front a hundred times during the race. You just hope when you’re at the front, it’s at the right time, at about lap 185 and you stay up there and have a chance to win the thing. Today is a relaxing day for a driver. You just go out there have fun, joke around with the guys, see where it puts you and then go out tomorrow and race.”

WHAT ABOUT THE PENSKE POWER TODAY, SURPRISING? “On a day like this, it shows off the engine shop, the body shop, everybody in the Penske organization. I had a lot more chance to mess it up than help it. The guys did a good job. It puts us near the front and shows all the effort that’s being put in these race cars.”

ARE YOU STARTING TO FEEL YOU’RE GETTING CLOSER TO A WIN? “We’re running up front every weekend. We’re just not getting the finishes. We just need to put a complete day together. There have been a lot of little mechanical things that have cropped up and got us. Last week, we had a good car all day, but had a tire going down and that hurt us. Of course, I always put the pressure on myself to go out there and win for Mr. (Roger) Penske. The good thing is we have the speed to go do it; we just have to put a complete race together. Once we start doing that and having some luck, we’ll win a lot of these things I think.”

DID YOU GET A CHANCE TO DRAFT YESTERDAY? “Not a lot. We got out for maybe five or six laps in a seven- or eight-car pack, but did not get in a big group drafting. It really doesn’t matter. We’ve got 188 laps to get it all figured out.”

“This is a day that’s more about the engine shop and the race team getting the car ready. It’s good for everybody at the Penske organization on the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge to put a fast racecar together. They worked hard to get a little bit more motor than what we had at Daytona. Obviously, I think it’s showing. I would love to have gotten the pole for the guys, but from where we were in qualifying for Daytona to where we are at Talladega, they’ve definitely made a lot of gains. I’m excited for the guys and excited for tomorrow.”

FOR A LONG WHILE, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU WERE GOING TO WIN THE POLE, BUT (JEFF) GORDON CAME OUT AND TOOK AN UNCONVENTIONAL LINE. DID YOU NOTICE WHAT HE DID AND WILL THAT MAKE PEOPLE RETHINK THE WAY THE QUALIFY HERE? “I think a lot of it had to do with the heat. It’s so warm out, I think most of the cars down pit road had to leave open a little bit of tape because they were going to push water too much. I didn’t see if he was fully taped up or how much tape he had, but I think that’s the idea he had. If you can fully tape up, you’re going to get a little bit of advantage on everybody and the only way you can do that is run low the whole time. Definitely a new strategy, but those guys are fast no matter what. So, it’s not like he snuck up on us. We knew that was going to be one of the cars that could beat us there at the end. It’s something to think about next time we’re here.”

YOU FIND YOURSELF 20-21ST IN THE POINTS WITH A LOT OF GUYS BETWEEN YOU AND THE CUTOFF FOR THE CHASE. DO YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO DO A LITTLE MORE TO GET A GOOD FINISH, A WIN? “Here, there’s no strategy. You just pray that you’re there at the end when it comes down to it. It’s still early in the season. For us, we have had fast racecars every weekend. We’ve had a lot of little mechanical failures. Last week, we missed on a long-run setup a little bit and that’s what killed us at the end. More importantly, we’ve got to keep doing the same things we’re doing and keep improving on it. Obviously, I’m the first to say I’m not happy where we’re at in points. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I don’t have a lot of it from the race team because they know, Roger especially knows, all the things that have happened is why we are where we’re at in points. It’s not indicative of how fast we’ve been and what kind of speed we’ve had this whole year. We’ve just got to put a whole race together. It takes time to do that. Some have been self-induced with mechanical failures. Last week, we know what happened. We missed the setup a little bit on long runs. The more important thing is that we have speed in our racecars. Even when we’re at our worst right now, we’re running 15th or 16th. And when we’re at our best, we’re inside the top five. We just have to keep doing those things and put a whole race together. This weekend, it’s kind of a crapshoot, so whatever happens happens. Next week at Darlington, that’s the focus – keep doing the things we’re doing and keep improving on them.”

Todd Gordon (crew chief, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)
“The impound race here levels out a lot of the qualifying stuff teams can do that we try to stay above board on. I’m proud of the guys. I don’t know where it will stand, but it’s an improvement over where we were at Daytona and something that we can build on. We’ve got to manage water temperature with the heat we have here and the restricted radiator opening. We only had one opportunity to draft yesterday, so it’s a bit of an unknown. It’s the same package we had at Daytona. These two tracks (Daytona and Talladega) are very much alike, so I feel we’ll be all right come drafting time. We just need to take care of our stuff, stay out of trouble and see what we have at the end.”

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