Monday, July 1, 2013

Kentucky Race Recap


Track: Kentucky Speedway
Event: Quaker State 400
Date: Sunday, June 30
Finish: 22nd
Start: 17th


AJ Allmendinger was scored in 22nd-place behind the wheel of the No. 47 SCOTT® Products Toyota Camry as the checkered flag dropped on the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway Sunday afternoon.

Allmendinger's highest position during the race was eighth place, but his path to a top 15 finish was derailed when he entered pit road under green flag conditions and a caution caught him while on pit road for routine service by the JTG Daugherty Racing pit crew pinning him one lap down. Allmendinger did get his lap back moments later, but he ran out of laps to regain positions lost.

There were 11 lead changes among 6 drivers with Matt Kenseth earning the grand prize. There were also 10 caution flags for 42 laps and the race was red-flagged at Lap 49.


"Today, we ran inside the top 10 and we are making some progress," AJ Allmendinger said.

“For me, obviously you try to go out there and have the best finish possible," Allmendinger continued. "All I can do is give my best feedback and come in here and say, ‘Okay, this is what I think.’ Maybe it’s the same as what Bobby (Labonte) thinks, or maybe it’s different. It might be different than what Jimmie Johnson would feel. I'm going to give all the feedback that I can, the good, the bad, what I feel is positive and what I feel like we need to work on as a race team in general. Hopefully for me, that’s what helps the race team get better no matter who is in the car.”

“Practice was a little bit of a struggle on Friday and we need to start off better going into the race weekend," Allmendinger added. "There was some good about it, but just like anything, we will keep learning together. I feel like the good thing about this race team is there’s a lot of good about it. There are a lot of pieces in here that can make this a good race team. When you first start working together, it’s not that easy. I think at least in general, we’re making progress and I hope that everything I’m feeding back to them is helping the team as a whole.”

Credit - JTG Daugherty Racing

Friday, June 28, 2013

Kentucky Race Preview


Track: Kentucky Speedway
Event: Quaker State 400
Date: Saturday, June 29
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Radio Coverage: PRN/Sirius XM


AJ Allmendinger returns to the No. 47 entry fielded by JTG Daugherty Racing for his second of five races with the team this season. He has two starts at Kentucky Speedway and one top-10 finish (ninth on 6/30/12). His best start is 16th (6/30/12). His average start is 19.500 and his average finish is 18.500.


AJ on winning first NASCAR race: "To be able to get my first win in NASCAR on Saturday is a relief in a way," said AJ Allmendinger, who won the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Road America. "I have finally won something in NASCAR and it's a relief, a joy with all emotions combined. I felt happy about the way I drove and I felt confident and just good all around. It gave me confidence and it was just fun to be at the track. Now, this week leads me to Kentucky Speedway with JTG Daugherty Racing. I'm excited to be at Kentucky because it is a fun, but challenging track that's bumpy and slick. One of the challenges of the track is that you really have to search around to get around it."

AJ's back in the saddle again: "It will be good to be back with JTG Daugherty Racing," AJ Allmendinger said. "The first weekend together at Michigan International Speedway was challenging in ways, but also good too. We had our hardships during practice and didn't start the race straight, but we ended the race well (19th). I really enjoyed working with guys and with Tad (Geschickter). They are a good group of people."

Building on a foundation: "To be able to go out there again with JTG Daugherty Racing, we can keep working on some stuff," AJ Allmendinger said. "Bobby Labonte and the guys tested at Kentucky Speedway not long ago. We're just trying to build on what we learned at Michigan International Speedway. For me this weekend, trying to give the best feedback is important. I'll give the team as much info about what I think whether it's good or bad and we will enjoy this weekend. Tad (Geschickter) is a great owner and I look forward to helping them."

From Michigan: "AJ has got a ton of talent," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. "He's a really nice guy. It's not easy for him to do what we have asked him to do. He's done it with a lot of class. When he drove the car for us at Michigan International Speedway, he gave us a lot of good data from the high-speed, high-grip track."

To Kentucky: "Kentucky Speedway doesn't have as much grip," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. "I think we will get a whole other set of data and assumptions to work on the car and help Bobby Labonte go faster when he gets back in the car. When were at Michigan International Speedway we had a couple mechanical issues. We also blew a hole in the tailpipe and broke some things. Our engine readings were not something we were used to. We also had a right-rear hub go bad in practice. We need more data before we go back to work on our Toyota Camrys."

Team's main goal: "The main thing is to get faster as a race team and be more competitive and that's what AJ (Allmendinger) promised he would help us with this year and the main thing for him is to get back to racing," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. "I hope he continues his great success because he deserves it. "

AJ moving past the past: "What happened in the past, I'm a whole lot better for it," AJ Allmendinger said. "It's a chapter in my life that is over and I'm better for it in all areas of life. That chapter is closed. I've talked about it enough and I really don't want to talk about it anymore. With winning my first NASCAR race, everything has come full circle and the win opens a new chapter."

AJ's second chance: "He deserves a second chance," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. "People deserve a second chance. He's done the right things. He's gone about it the right way. He wasn't anything, but absolutely in compliance with what he's been asked to do. He's trying to make it right. There are times in my life where I've made mistakes. All you can do is admit them, move forward and make them right."

Labonte thanks fans for the support: "First of all, I want to thank everyone for their support," Bobby Labonte said. "It obviously means the world to me as I have a passion for racing. We have great sponsors here at JTG Daugherty Racing and we have a great race team. There are a lot of committed people that work here. Our sponsors are what keep us funded and racing. Our owners juggle all of the balls in the air at all times. We don't question how our sponsors run their business."

Labonte on streak coming to an end: "I will not be racing this week," Bobby Labonte said. "It is disappointing the way it is happening. I have had a couple offers this morning, but I have declined them because I don't want anybody else that has an opportunity to do what I do - what they love - to have to sit on the sidelines for my sake."

Labonte tested at Kentucky Speedway for JTG Daugherty Racing: "I spent two days testing with our race team, trying different mapping and even a different type of engine," Bobby Labonte said. "That was the first test that we did since January and we had a great test. I feel like AJ Allmendinger is a heck of a driver and I also know that what I feel in a race car is right. We had a great test in Kentucky and I am disappointed that I am not going to Kentucky Speedway. But as you move forward, you need to support our race team. Even though I might not agree, it is still going to benefit us to keep moving forward in a positive way. You can express your opinions, but I would appreciate it if it was done in a positive manner."

The reality of being a single-car team:
"As part of a single-car team for the last year and a half, it is hard to compare some things like multi-car teams can do,' continued Labonte. "As I drive the race car, I know that taking lots of chances on restarts can be beneficial, but I don't want to take those risks and possibly jeopardize the car because we don't have the resources that many other teams do. If I tore up a lot of race cars it would not help us out any."
Credit - JTG Daugherty Racing

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Road America Race Recap

AJ ALLMENDINGER, No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang

AJ Allmendinger made a remarkable return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) in Saturday afternoon’s Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America by earning his first career series pole.

As the green flag flew, Allmendinger was able to put several car lengths between his Ford Mustang and the rest of the field. During the first pit stop of the race on Lap 15, the Discount Tire crew changed four tires, took two cans of fuel and made an air pressure adjustment. Allmendinger restarted in the 16th position which is the lowest position he saw of the race.

While working his way back through the field, Allmendinger reclaimed the lead on Lap 26 after a hard fought battle with the No. 54 of Owen Kelly.

With fuel mileage on the mind of crew chief, Jeremy Bullins took every opportunity to remind Allmendinger to save fuel during cautions. After a quick yellow on Lap 41 for debris on the racing surface, Allmendinger brought the field down to the green flag but was quickly shuffled back to the fourth position after making contact with the No. 16 of Billy Johnson.

Reclaiming the lead on Lap 44, Allmendinger defending that position from an eager Justin Allgaier during the closing laps of the race.

During both attempts at a Green-White-Checkered finish, Allmendinger was able to maintain the lead and claim his first NASCAR Series victory at Road America. He led for a total of 29 Laps throughout the event.

The victory advances the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang team to second in the Nationwide Series Owner Championship Standings.


“What Roger (Penske) has done for me is an understatement. What everyone has done for me at Penske Racing by giving me another chance to not only drive in the IndyCar Series but also this Discount Tire Ford is amazing. Discount Tire has a great choice of drivers to pilot this car and them giving me the opportunity to get behind the wheel and have some fun and ultimately win this race is unbelievable. I have the thank all the sponsors at Penske Racing and Team Penske, my Crew Chief Jeremy (Bullins) and everyone on the team. This Ford Mustang was just phenomenal and I was starting to get frustrated with all the Green-White-Checkers there at the end. The Discount Tire Ford was just so fast that I knew if I could get out and get clear we would have a great day. I made a mistake earlier in the race which actually worked in my advantage because it allowed me to see where I was over driving a bit. This car was a rocket ship and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the race.”
Credit - Penske Racing

Road America Qualifying Results

AJ Allmendinger and the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang team qualified on pole for Saturday afternoon’s Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America.

Allmendinger finessed his Penske Ford around the 4.04-mile 14 Turn road course in 133.410 seconds at 109.233 miles per hour during the Saturday morning qualifying session. Sam Hornish Jr. will start from the eighth position in the No. 12 Snap-on Ford Mustang.

“I have to thank Roger Penske and all the people at Penske Racing,” said Allmendinger. “They have stuck with me and given me everything I need to go out there and do what I love to do. Our Discount Tire Ford was fast in practice yesterday, and I knew if I could put together a steady lap we would have a great shot at the pole and it worked out. We know what we need to do to finish up front, and that is what we plan on doing.”

Credit - Penske Racing

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Road America Race Preview

Driver: AJ Allmendinger
No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
Primary Chassis: PRS-235 Last Raced: Bristol (finished 5th)
Backup Chassis: PRS-223 Last Raced: Bristol backup

• Welcome Back: AJ Allmendinger is returning to the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) this weekend after a five-year hiatus. His last start and his best finish (a 12th-place) came in Phoenix of 2008 while driving for Gillett-Evernham Motorsports. Between 2007 and 2008, Allmendinger made a total of eight NNS starts.

• Familiar with Victory Lane: Having two previous starts under his belt at Road America, Allmendinger made a trip to Victory Lane in 2006 in the CART Series. He also made a visit to the facility in the same series in 2004 where he finished 13th. His victory in 2006 marked his last win in an open-wheel series.

• Road Course Connoisseur: Over the last seven years, Allmendinger has competed in nine road course events on the NASCAR circuit. Out of those nine starts, he has completed over 900 miles as well as recorded eight top-15 finishes.

• Back behind the wheel: Allmendinger rejoins Penske Racing for two of the three Road Course events on the NNS schedule for the 2013 season. Competing in five IZOD IndyCar Series events for Team Penske earlier in the in the year, Allmendinger was credited with a fifth-place finish in his first Indianapolis 500.


"I am very excited to be back behind the wheel of a NNS car and for none other than Roger Penske. It's been a few years since I've been in the series and I'm eager to return as the field of competition is the best it's ever been. Jeremy Bullins (crew chief) and the guys back in the shop have built an awesome Discount Tire Ford. I was fortunate enough to join the team in VIR (Virginia International Raceway) a few weeks ago for a test and log some laps in a Nationwide car, which was great experience as they handle differently than a Sprint Cup car."

"Road America has always been a good track for me. It is the most challenging of the natural road courses that I've ever experienced, yet still so much fun to drive. Getting my last victory in an open wheel car here means a lot to me and I'm ready to come back. I am hoping we can create the same magic that I had here then and bring home a win for Penske Racing and Discount Tire."

Credit - Penske Racing

Monday, May 13, 2013

Allmendinger to drive for Penske in Detroit

Team Penske today announced AJ Allmendinger will continue to enhance his IZOD IndyCar Series experience as he competes for the team at the upcoming Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans, May 31-June 2.

Allmendinger will drive the No. 2 Quicken Loans Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet at the newly-configured 2.3-mile Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit. As Allmendinger continues to get reacquainted to open-wheel racing this season after establishing his NASCAR career the last seven years, the Belle Isle race weekend will provide plenty of opportunity for experience. The event will host the first-ever INDYCAR doubleheader weekend as Allmendinger and the rest of the series drivers will compete in races on both Saturday and Sunday.

“I’m excited to race in Detroit. It’s a huge event for Chevrolet and it will be an honor to drive the Quicken Loans Chevy in the hometown of both of those organizations,” said Allmendinger. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge to compete in two races in one weekend but it’s a great opportunity for me to continue to improve and hopefully come away with two strong results at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans.”

Allmendinger joined the Team Penske IZOD IndyCar Series program this season as he returned to his open-wheel racing roots. The 31-year-old native of Los Gatos, California, raced at Barber Motorsports Park and at Long Beach in April and will drive the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske machine in the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

“We are excited to see AJ Allmendinger behind the wheel of the Quicken Loans IndyCar here in Detroit,” said Jay Farner, President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quicken Loans. “The entire Quicken Loans team is thrilled about the Grand Prix coming to our hometown, and now we have even more reason to cheer.”

After rising through the open-wheel ranks, Allmendinger emerged as a young star in the Champ Car World Series posting five wins and 14 podium finishes from 2004-06. He transitioned to stock car racing full-time in 2007 and he has enjoyed a solid career in NASCAR the past six seasons. Allmendinger parted ways with the Penske Racing NASCAR team last season.

The opportunity to reconnect with Team Penske emerged during the off-season as the team was looking for a third driver to work with Helio Castroneves and Will Power during select events in 2013. Originally scheduled to only compete at Barber and Indianapolis, Allmendinger has been solid in his return to IndyCar racing and Team Penske continues to look for opportunities to give the personable racer more experience adding races at Long Beach and now Detroit.

“We would like to thank Quicken Loans for their partnership and for providing this opportunity to race AJ in the Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle,” said Roger Penske. “With Penske Corporation, Chevrolet and Quicken Loans all calling Detroit home, this truly is a special event and we are excited to see AJ in action in the Quicken Loans Chevy.”

Allmendinger continues to show his diversity by also competing in NASCAR while he reconnects with his open-wheel heritage. He has raced in four Cup Series events this season for Phoenix Racing in addition to his IndyCar Series starts.

Credit - Penske Racing

Indy 500 - Second Practice Notes & Quotes

AJ Allmendinger of Team Penske made the most of his second day of practice Sunday for the Indianapolis 500.
Allmendinger, the only Team Penske driver to practice in the chilly conditions with temperatures in the 50s at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the six-hour session, had the fifth-fastest lap of the day. His No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet was clocked at 221.279 mph, the best of his 40 laps.

“Another day in the learning process today and we got a couple different things tested in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet that should be helpful as we move on,” said Allmendinger, who noted after the session that 221.279 mph was the fastest he had ever been in a car.

“We did a couple of short runs and a full-tank run so I could see how the car would feel and I am getting more comfortable with it. To a certain degree I also got to see how the car is going to react in traffic and I thought that was really good.”

Allmendinger, who did not participate in the first session of the day, waited until late in the afternoon to begin his practice after the second rookie orientation program ended.

“Obviously the cold conditions are a little different than what we will probably have for the race,” noted Allmendinger. “But to do a race run the car felt pretty good and I’m happy with the progress we made.”

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and teammate Will Power took the day off after participating in Saturday’s first practice session. Sunday’s cold temperatures led to less-than-ideal conditions to prepare for the 500-mile race on May 26th.

Credit - Penske Racing

Indy 500 - First Practice Notes & Quotes

AJ completed his Rookie Orientation Program in just under an hour to get certified for the big race at the end of the month. After a shakedown of the car by teammate Helio Castroneves, AJ took the required laps and then spent the rest of the day practicing something relatively new to him - driving an oval in an open-wheel car.

While AJ has raced several times in a Sprint Cup car at the famed Brickyard, this was his first time making laps in the style of car that he cut his teeth on coming up through the racing ranks. So how did he do? He topped both of his teammates times and ended up 8th overall in practice times during his first day on track. Here are some quotes from the day:

AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): (Does previous experience here help?): "No. No. It just tells me that there are four corners around this racetrack and I have an understanding of what they feel like. Obviously, it's two different race cars. Completely different race cars. The line and just the way the track feels, that I kind of knew, but from there it's a completely different technique of how to get in the corners. You can't hit the brake pedal, and you don't want to lift. Trying to get used to that. The first few laps when I was trying to go wide-open, the right foot was quivering. I had to get the left foot to hold it down and say, 'OK, it's time to get used to this.' It was enjoyable."

AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): "Oh, I'm a rookie. I feel like it out there. I have to admit, the first lap on the racetrack was pretty special going down the back straightaway and thinking about that I was at Indy preparing for the Indy 500, especially being in a Roger Penske race car. For me, it was pretty cool. I was kind of just thinking about that as I was going down the straightaway. Then I realized that corner comes up really quick, so I should start focusing again. All around for me, I thought it was better than expected. I didn't really know what to expect. I was pretty much making myself nervous and stressing myself out thinking about what was going to happen. You know, I really have to thank Helio (Castroneves) a lot, because for him to shake the car down was one thing. But to be there on the headset talking to me before, during and after; that guy's obviously got a wealth of knowledge and experience at this place. For him to take the time out of the day when he could have been working on his own program or just back at the trailer relaxing, it meant a lot to me. I have to thank him a lot for getting me up to speed pretty quick."

Allmendinger leads team Penske through first practice day on Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Team Penske began preparation to chase its record 16th victory in the Indianapolis 500 with strong laps Saturday during the opening day of practice for the 97th of the running of the 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The story of the day for Team Penske was AJ Allmendinger easily passing his rookie orientation program, clearing the way for the driver of the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet to begin practicing for his first open-wheel competition at the legendary Brickyard.

In his first official practice day, Allmendinger paced the three Team Penske entries with a fast lap of 218.967 mph, which placed him eighth overall on the IZOD IndyCar Series timing chart.

“I went down the back straightaway the first lap thinking to myself this is pretty sweet; I’m driving the IZOD Team Penske car on the backstretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Allmendinger, who completed 52 laps within an hour to pass his rookie test.

“I have to thank (Team Penske teammate) Helio (Castroneves) just a ton because his going out there and shaking the car down and just talking to me just made me a lot more calm than I would have been without him.”

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves recorded a fast lap of 217.923 mph in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Dallara/Chevrolet, the 12th-fastest lap of opening day.

The Brazilian driver will attempt to tie the record of four career Indy victories when the famed race gets underway May 26 and he is one of seven drivers to have won Indy three times. A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Team Penske advisor Rick Mears share the record of four victories.

"It felt really good to be back in the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet here at Indy. It's always a special feeling when you take the track for the first time,” said Castroneves, who spent the first practice session shaking down the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevy to prepare for Allmendinger’s rookie orientation.

“We were able to shakedown the No. 2 IZOD car for AJ and do the same for our car which is what we wanted to accomplish. AJ did a great job today, it was really fun being a part of the Rookie Orientation process with him, and I look forward to having him as a teammate here."

Will Power was clocked at 217.595 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet, good for 14th-fastest of the six-hour session. Power, who finished 28th in 2012 after Mike Conway’s car made contact with him, is looking for his first victory at the historic 2.5-mile speedway.

"It was a good opening day for the Verizon team, we were able to shakedown the car and everything feels good,” said Power, who enters the race looking for his first win of 2013. “It's obviously a long couple weeks and we are taking this step by step to be where we need to be for the race."

As has become a Team Penske tradition, Castroneves was first on track Saturday, leaving the pits in Allmendinger’s car at 12:08 p.m. It marked the fourth consecutive year that a Team Penske car was first on track for opening day.

Allmendinger appreciated what the veteran Team Penske driver provided him as he began his first practice session. “It’s meant a lot for him to help me. You know, he could have easily just went and drove the car and said it was fine and walked away and focused on his program," said Allmendinger of Castroneves.

"But he’s here, talking to me. When we are back in the pits and he is showing me, teaching me and just talking to me. My teammates here, Will and Helio, they’ve been amazing since I showed up, and I feel very fortunate to have them.”

Teams will continue practicing each day through Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pole qualifying is scheduled to begin Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. It will be televised live by NBC Sports Network, which also will air a special preview Friday at 3:30 p.m.

ABC’s race broadcast is set to begin at noon on Sunday, May 26.

Credit - Penske Racing

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

IndyCar Media Conference Transcript

MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to today's INDYCAR conference call. We're pleased to be joined by one of the drivers from Team Penske today, AJ Allmendinger. Welcome to today's call. AJ drives the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet and made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut over the weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. He'll drive the Penske Automotive Chevrolet at Long Beach and the IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet in the Indianapolis 500 in May. Let's talk a little bit about the race weekend in Barber. You qualified 10th, didn't get the result that you had hoped for, but you still have to consider it a good weekend.

 AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, overall I thought it was pretty good. I felt like I had pretty good pace comparative to everybody there at least. At least I was in the mix of it and felt good just to ‑‑ from testing there and going over everything and preparing for the weekend, just to be closer to Will (Power) and Helio (Castroneves) time‑wise, and felt like I was at least able to bring a little something to the team to try to help everybody in the whole organization. As you said, the result kind of wasn't what I wanted, but I felt pretty good in the race to have the pace where I did and run inside the Top 10 early on. Just kind of part of the learning curve about going through the race strategy and working with Roger (Penske) for the first time and having him call my race and just kind of everything that goes with that. I'm just trying to take the result out of it completely and not look at that. I felt really good about the weekend. I was nervous about how my fitness would be in the race and I felt really good after the race and during the race. All in all, except for the finish itself, I was pretty happy with the weekend.

Q. Over the weekend it came out that Team Penske would field you at Long Beach. That's a place that you're very familiar with from your time in Champ Car. What do you remember about racing at Long Beach, and now that you've driven in INDYCAR, what do you expect?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I'm really excited to go to Long Beach. That was always one of my favorite races on the Champ Car schedule, and it's a good atmosphere. It's just a place where just the energy level of the crowd, you get a ton of people out to the race, and the crowd level is always ‑‑ the energy just around the whole event, you feel like you're at an event, not that you're just at a race. It's a whole weekend, and I've always enjoyed that. I think the layout of the racetrack itself is actually the same as when I used to run it. I won the Toyota Atlantic race there back in 2003, and felt always pretty quick there in Champ Car. I'm looking forward to it, and to be able to go back and kind of get another race under our belts before Indy is going to be important, and just try to keep getting better. I think obviously the Penske organization, they have a great car on the road course and street course tracks especially. So I'm looking forward to that, and it's just kind of the same thing, going through the process of the weekend, and hopefully I can get up to speed pretty quick, not having a lot of track time there, and I'll be studying a lot of data, a lot of video before that, so I am really excited to go there.

Q. Finally, you were supposed to get your first look at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week with the rookie orientation, but unfortunately the weather forecast doesn't look too good so it's been postponed. Depending on its reschedule, does that affect the schedule you have going between Indy cars and stock cars?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: No. The IndyCar thing, especially with everything that comes to (the) Indy 500 in general, that's the most important thing. The good thing is that Phoenix Racing has worked with me, and Roger and James Finch, especially, to make sure that everything kind of lined up, and James knows that the Indy car, just everything that comes along with it whatever race, not just Indy but anything that comes up on the schedule, that takes priority. It doesn't mess me up. I think it's going to be good because I can kind of go into Indy week and get focused and be able to go through rookie orientation on Friday now, and to be able to kind of have that just lead into the start of the two weeks of Indy is really good, instead of maybe just doing one day like I was going to do and maybe do a couple Cup races in between, and obviously Long Beach would have been in between. So I think just to be able to do that day and kind of kick that off for the two weeks is going to be good.

Q. You're trying to do everything that you can to improve yourself in a hurry. I hear that you're going to even possibly run a race following the Long Beach race. Is this written in stone yet or is that something that's just potential?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I'll be racing on the Cup schedule at Richmond after Long Beach, nothing Indy car wise. I think the only race that they have after that is Brazil. Just kind of before Indy ‑‑ for me it's just trying to race as much as possible, whether it's in IndyCar or a stock car or anything that goes with that, just as much as I can being inside a race car. I feel like it just keeps helping me get better and better no matter what car I'm in.

Q. And how much of an adjustment was it to the newest Indy car?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: It's huge. I'm still learning it. I'm nowhere where I want to be when it comes to being competitive. I want to go out there and contend to win races. It's been tough, and this series, especially in the IZOD IndyCar Series, there's no hacks out there. The men and women that drive in this series, it is so competitive now, it's by far ‑‑ at that point when I used to race Champ Car, obviously the two series were split, so you had some of the best drivers split amongst two series, and now that it's one series and everybody in the series is so fast, it's competitive. Just trying to learn the car and then go out there and compete at a high level, it's been a tough adjustment, but I enjoy the challenge. I'm having fun with it. As I said, I went to Barber and felt pretty good. I was kind of inside the top 10 all weekend in speed, through practices and in the race. I'm getting closer but still have a ways to go.

Q. Just trying to figure out your Cup schedule. Is Richmond really your only race between now and I guess the end of May?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah. Right now it is, and kind of looking at the schedule, obviously running Long Beach next week, and that's Kansas weekend, the weekend after that is Richmond, and then Talladega, and really Talladega would be the only race I could run, and Regan (Smith) has done such a good job for Phoenix Racing on the superspeedway races, I think he'll probably be in for that race. At that point the weekend after that is really kind of the start of Indy. Now rookie Orientation has moved to that Friday, which would be Darlington weekend, and then I think the track opens on Sunday anyway. At that point my focus needs to be on INDYCAR and the month of May. Richmond is kind of the only thing ‑‑ obviously I was going to try to run Texas this weekend, and then Phoenix Racing, they're doing everything they can to find sponsorships, so Austin Dillon brought sponsorship to them, and I understand kind of the position, and I'm OK with that. Richmond will probably be it.

Q. When you were racing NASCAR full‑time, how much attention were you paying to Indy and what was going on there, and what do you think it's going to be like to race there in an IndyCar?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Oh, man, I always loved watching INDYCAR. It's not like I left Champ Car and just forgot about open-wheel racing. I've always loved open-wheel racing. I've always had friends that have been in the IndyCar Series, so I've always kept up with it, and then especially the Indy 500. It's always fun to kind of ‑‑ it's been fun to watch and kind of see how the process of the weeks go and practice and everything like that. So I was always up to date with it, and obviously when we're at Charlotte at that point, kind of be able to watch most of the Indy 500 before any kind of sponsor thing started and drivers' meetings, et cetera, for the 600. So I'm really looking forward to going there and kind of going through the process and learning. I'll be definitely nervous going to the track for the first time and rolling out of Gasoline Alley and going down the front straightaway for the first time in the IndyCar. It's going to be nerve‑racking but exciting at the same time. From there, it's just about a process. You get a lot of track time and you don't have to rush anything, don't have to go out there and set the world on fire on the first day. Just going through the process of it and getting to the actual race.

Q. You say that you're still learning the process, the process is still ongoing. What are your realistic expectations for the next couple of races in IndyCar? What are you expecting to learn or hoping to learn?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I guess expectations, that's a tough thing to try to set for myself because in my heart and in my head I want to go out there and win races. As I stated many times now, I don't want to waste Roger's time. I don't want to waste IZOD's time, I don't want to waste anybody's time at this organization to go out there and just go run around laps and try to learn. I want to go out there and compete right away. But everybody in the series is so quick, and it's so competitive. You know, I think the on‑track racing of this series is some of the best that I've ever seen, and I've watched open wheel racing really ever since I was born and growing up, and I think it's some of the most competitive racing that it's ever been. To try to just get people to understand that and get the outside world that doesn't know IndyCar racing to understand that and see how competitive and how great this series is ‑‑ you know, going to Long Beach, I just want to keep improving. It's a track that I know kind of, but it's been seven years and haven't been in one of these cars around the place, but at least kind of know the layout of it. My expectations are to go there and just try to keep getting better from where I was at Barber. And then like I said at Indy, I want to go try to win the race. That's why I'm there. That's why Roger hired me is to have the expectations to win. Like I said, the good thing there is you get a lot of time to go out there and learn the racetrack and go through the days of practice and go into qualifying and then get the race setup. You know, expectations for me, it kind of changes always throughout a weekend, but I expect to go out there and compete at a high level and hopefully go try to win these races.

Q. And you were mentioning that any track time, whether it's in a stock car or in an IndyCar is helpful for that transition. Does that mean you feel like some of the things you're learning in NASCAR are helping you transition over to IndyCar, as well?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I don't know if it's about transitioning into an IndyCar, but I think just competing in general and racing and being in a race car for me is ‑‑ it just only helps. It's good to be at the Penske organization and working out and doing things like that and studying data and video and all that. But nothing beats track time, whether it's an IndyCar or stock car or sports car or go‑kart, whatever, it's been good for me to go jump back and forth. For me I think more than anything it really helps me focus, as well, because every weekend I jump back and forth or one weekend I'm in something, the next weekend I go to the next thing, and it really helps me focus to be at my best because I know I've got to go out there and adjust again to what kind of vehicle I'm in. I've really enjoyed the challenge so far, and hopefully I can continue doing it. We'll just kind of see how the next little span of these two months go and see where it goes to.

Q. You're not the usual rookie going into Indy. You have a lot of experience, you've driven in Champ Car, you've driven in NASCAR, you're not like a guy like Vautier coming in for the first time and never driven a car on these tracks. How much of a disadvantage are you really at going into the Indy 500 with guys that are 15‑year veterans who have been racing those cars for an entire year? How much ground do you have to make up?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, it's kind of interesting, I guess I'm not the typical rookie, but you've got a guy like Vautier, he ran around Indy in an open‑wheel car. It was an Indy Lights car, but he's been on some of these bigger racetracks, and when I raced Champ Car, I was never ‑‑ the biggest racetrack that I really raced on was Milwaukee. We did a couple of races in Vegas, but that was with big wings and the speed wasn't that high, so I don't even look at that race like it was something that I learned from. You know, it's part of being a rookie, going out there and learning, and the good thing that I have is I have teammates that have been so helpful to me with Helio and Will, and obviously Helio's record around there, it speaks for itself. To have guys like that, they've been so helpful in everything that I've gotten into, whether it was the test at Sebring or Barber or even Texas and obviously the race weekend at Barber, they've just been so supportive, and it's been a lot of fun. It's an amazing to be a part of, to feel so close to my teammates. It's made it really exciting. To have them at Indy is going to be a big help. Obviously Rick Mears has been a huge help and will be a huge help at Indy for me, and Roger himself. I feel like I've got a good supporting cast around me. The cars will be fast. And it's just like I said, it's the process of leading up to it. For me mentally I've got to make sure I don't go out there and try to just set the world on fire at day one, and that's a place you can't over‑push yourself. You've got to kind of let it lead into it. For me I think it's about going out there and having the mindset of taking it step by step and I don't have to be the fastest on the speed charts on day one. We've seen it plenty of times: Rookies can come in and win the race, so that's what I want to do.

Q. Is the biggest challenge trying to figure out before the race how the car is going to run in traffic? You and Will and Helio can maybe run together a little bit, but the other guys aren't going to help you to figure that out. Is that going to be a big adjustment during the race for you, just running the car in traffic and all the stuff going on around you?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, for the most part that'll be a big adjustment. As you said, Carb Day you can go run in traffic a little bit, but it's not the same as dropping the green flag with 33 cars. But just track conditions and how track conditions change throughout a race, whether it's hot or cold and how the tires go off at Indy, in an IndyCar. There's a lot of stuff that I'm going to have to learn from, but you really can't do anything about it until you get to the race. So I think just leading up to it is the best thing that I can do and we can do as a race team is just try to make everything as comfortable as possible, and hopefully I don't have to adjust in traffic. Hopefully we're fast up front leading the race. It's all part of the fun and part of the challenge of going out there and running this race for the first time.

Q. You've been there in NASCAR previously, but does the Indy 500 still kind of hold a special mystique? Is this going to be a huge thing for you when you're sitting on the grid and getting ready to go?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Oh, yeah. I mean, to me the Indy 500 is still the biggest race in the world, and it's just ‑‑ it's Indy. You really can't say anything more about it. It's the Indianapolis 500, and for me to get to run it first of all is just a dream come true. I always wanted to run the race and just never got a chance to, and secondly, to be able to do that with Roger Penske and walk out of Gasoline Alley and be introduced wearing an IZOD Penske Racing suit is something special, and no matter what happens during the race obviously I want to go out there and try to win the race, but no matter what happens just to be able to say that I was there as a Penske driver at the Indianapolis 500, it's pretty special and I'll always hold that with me. Hopefully it's the first of many, but to go out there for the first time and have my parents there, especially my dad that named me after AJ Foyt and always wanted me ‑‑ this is what he dreamed of is me running the Indianapolis 500. To have my parents there with me will be really special, as well.

Q. Several years ago we spoke before the Long Beach Grand Prix and back then you were one of the young stars of what was left of Champ Car at that time and one of the few Americans. Do you ever look back at the decision to go to NASCAR and wonder if you made the right decision? I know IndyCar has had a lot of problems between that time, but do you ever look back at the decision and wonder what if?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, not at all. For me it's always about looking forward. I don't think you ever regret anything that happens, you just learn from it and move forward, and that's what I try to do in everything that's happened in my life. You know, to look back and say what if, I mean, I may have never had a chance to run with Roger Penske. If I wasn't in Cup and got signed by him, maybe this opportunity never happened to run the Indy 500 with Roger Penske. You can't ever change the past, so for me I don't ever look back at it and wonder. I feel very fortunate in everything that's happened to me. I got to drive for Richard Petty. I've gotten to drive for Roger Penske now. I feel very fortunate. And yeah, there's certain things like maybe I'd like the results to be better or certain things to have happened, but I'm happy where I'm at, and I'm excited for this opportunity. You know, and I hope that the IndyCar Series can keep growing. There's so much great things about it, it just needs to be marketed better and it needs to be noticed more on a bigger platform. Maybe if I can bring just a little light to that from my background now and let the eyes of maybe the NASCAR side of it or just people in general to know that this is a great series, and there's so many things that ‑‑ about this series that make it one of the best things in the world to be a part of. Hopefully it can just keep growing. The potential is there, it just needs to keep growing.

Q. The split between Champ Car and IndyCar kind of cost you a lot of shots of spending the month of May in Indy. How heavy did that weigh on you during those days, like '04, '05 and '06 and did you think about being there and think, geez, I may never get there?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Of course back in the Champ Car days I always wanted to be there. You know, it was a race that ‑‑ especially in Champ Car, because we'd sit there and watch it on TV because we weren't racing. Yeah, I really wanted to be there. You know, I don't feel like it's cost me anything. It's just the way it's happened, and it's the way things kind of went about, and I think you ask anybody in open wheel racing right now, do they wish the split never happened, we all wish it never happened, but it did, and we're here now. More than anything I just wish the split never happened, it never got to that point to where it cost 15 years of all the best in the world racing against each other and things like that, but we can't go back and change that.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your ability to adapt and adjust? You've gone from go‑karts to open wheel to NASCAR, back to IndyCar. That's a lot of upward and a lot of adapting and you have a lot of skills to be able to accomplish that.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah. You know, I'm trying. I guess I'm kind of writing each chapter and seeing how it goes. But I have fun with it. Like I said, it's a challenge that I feel very fortunate this year to have the opportunity to go do, to go run sports cars and then jump into a Cup car and then jump into an IndyCar. It's something that I take pride in, in trying to be the best at to be able to do that and say I can go jump in one and go jump in the next and not just be out there but be really competitive. I'm trying as hard as I can do. Honestly, that's all I can do, and that's the way I look at it, that I'm just going out there and I'm enjoying it. I'm looking at it as a huge challenge that I love to try to tackle and go out there and enjoy, because there's not a lot of people that get to do that anymore like they used to in the old days. You know, we'll kind of see how it goes. I'm having a lot of fun, and as I said, I feel like the IndyCar side of it, I've still got a ways to go to go out there and compete with guys like Will and Helio and Ryan Hunter‑Reay and Hinchcliffe and the best in the series, Scott Dixon and those guys, to go out there and compete at a high level and know that I can go beat them. But in the short amount of time, it's been a lot of fun so far.

Q. Is there any way that your experience could give you an edge anywhere on the track?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I'm not sure about that. Maybe like at Indy if they start running the top around, right against the wall, I might be able to do that like we do in the Cup car. But other than that, these guys are so good in both sides of it, in the NASCAR world and the IndyCar world, my experience in any of that is not going to beat the guys, because unfortunately in the IndyCar side of it, there's plenty of more guys that have a lot more experience out there than me right now, and the NASCAR side of it is the same way. All I can control is just me myself trying to get better, mentally, physically, emotionally, get everything I can out of myself, so that's all I can do and that's what I'm working on.

MODERATOR: We will thank AJ for his time today and wish him the best of luck in a couple weeks at Long Beach and in the month of May at the Indy 500.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bristol Race Recap

In a race filled with highs and lows, A.J. Allmendinger was a picture of consistency throughout the Food City 500. With crew chief Nick Harrison calling the shots, Allmendinger drove a smart, calculated race, and steered clear of the carnage associated with Bristol Motor Speedway. He took the checkered flag in 13th place, marking the third top-15 finish for Phoenix Racing this season.

Allmendinger caught a lucky break when the caution flag waved on Lap 54. One lap prior to the yellow flag, he reported that a vibration was coming from the right-rear tire and planned to make an unscheduled pit stop to fix the problem. The yellow flag allowed the team to change the tires without losing a lap. Following the pit stop, the team learned it was a loose wheel causing the car to shake. He went back on the track in 24th place.

Allmendinger drove into 21st place on the next run. The Guy Roofing Chevrolet was beginning to tighten up, so Allmendinger came into the pits during the next caution period, Lap 70, and the crew changed his right-side tires. They also added a spacer to the right-rear wheel to ensure that the lug nuts would remain secure on the studs for the rest of the race. He rejoined the field in 31st place.

On the next green flag run, Allmendinger worked his way into 23rd place. He reported that the Guy Roofing Chevy was still tight, so when the next caution flag waved, Lap 151, the crew changed his left-side tires and topped off the fuel cell. He lined up 15th for the restart.

Allmendinger held strong in the top-20 for the remainder of the race, running as high as 11th place. On Lap 455, the caution flag waved for the final time with Allmendinger in 17th place. Being one of the last cars on the lead lap, Harrison called Allmendinger into the pits for fresh rubber and fuel. He also made an air pressure adjustment to loosen up the car for the final green flag dash.

Harrison’s decision to pit on the previous yellow paid huge dividends. The tires had Allmendinger mowing down the field on the final run. He picked up four positions in 40 laps to finish the race in 13th place.

Allmendinger made 125 green flag passes during the event and ran 85 laps inside the top 15. Phoenix Racing is eighth in the owner point standings, only six points outside of the top five.

Allmendinger’s Thoughts after the Race: “I rarely say this after Bristol, but we had a pretty normal day. Lots of guys were crashing and having problems, but we did a really good job of keeping our nose clean and working our way through the field. We were kind of tight during the race, but the team did a great job of making the Guy Roofing Chevy better and better. Nick (Harrison) made some good calls that had it running really well by the end of the race. Our last pit stop was key. It gave us fresh tires when a lot of the guys in front of us were on old ones. It was a great call and it paid off. We scored another solid finish and beat a lot of really good cars today.

“It’s really tough to pass at Bristol. Track position is everything, but we rallied to come from 29th to get a top-15. That says a lot about this team’s determination and resilience.”

Phoenix Racing will hit the track next week at Auto Club Speedway for the Auto Club 400.
Guy Roofing will return as an associate sponsor on the No. 51 Chevrolet. Phoenix Racing is still seeking a primary sponsor for the event. The race starts on Sunday, March 24 at 3:00 ET. FOX, MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio will broadcast the event.

Credit - Phoenix Racing Press Release

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bristol Race Preview

After a successful outing with the No. 51 team at Phoenix International Raceway, A.J. Allmendinger will pair with Phoenix Racing again this week at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500. Allmendinger will pilot the Guy Roofing Chevrolet in his second Sprint Cup Series event of 2013.

Allmendinger and Phoenix Racing raced to an 11th-place finish in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 two weeks ago. He's anxious to rejoin the Spartanburg, S.C.-based team to tackle the high banks of the half-mile oval known as "Thunder Valley."

Allmendinger's first-ever Cup Series start came at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2007. This weekend will mark his 11th Cup race at the track. He's garnered four top-20s and one top-15, and started on the front row in one event. His best finish is 12th place, which he scored in 2011. Phoenix Racing scored its best Cup Series finish at Bristol last season. The team took the checkers in 18th place with Kurt Busch behind the wheel.

A.J. Allmendinger comments on racing the No. 51 Guy Roofing Chevy at Bristol:

"I'm really excited to go racing with Phoenix Racing again. We had a great race at Phoenix a couple of weeks ago and I'm looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Guy Roofing Chevy. We're off to a good start and now it's about keeping the momentum rolling.

"Bristol is a crazy track. Before the most recent resurfacing, you would have two-wide and three-wide racing there. Now that they've ground up some of the top groove, it's a little closer to what Bristol used to be like. There's not quite as much room and you have to be a little more aggressive in making passes. You're seeing more bumping and banging now and it seems like everyone's patience is a little shorter than usual.
"There are a few keys to us having a good day. Of course you need to stay out of trouble. Needless to say, there have been countless drivers with good cars who've been caught up in wrecks and had to watch the checkered flag from the garage. We've got to keep our car in one piece. It's also important to have a car that can work the bottom groove. If you can make passes down low, you're going to have a good race. You've got to know when to be aggressive and when to back off. Sometimes aggression is your best friend at Bristol, and sometimes it's your worst enemy. Keep your emotions in check or you'll probably make some decisions you regret. I'm confident that the guys have prepared a good Guy Roofing Chevrolet for me and we have a good weekend ahead of us."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Allmendinger/Penske IndyCar Video News Conference

Penske Indy 500 Announcement - Photo Gallery


*Disclaimer - photos are not mine. Their rights belong to their respective news outlets*

Team Penske Indy 500 Press Conference Transcript

THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. Thank you for joining us today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You probably all saw the news this morning. We're happy to welcome AJ Allmendinger back onboard with Team Penske.

We're joined with three distinguished guests, Tim Cindric, who is the president of Penske Racing; AJ Allmendinger, who we announced this morning will be driving the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet at the Indianapolis 500 and Barber Motorsports Park; and Mike Kelly, executive vice president of marketing, and oversees the IZOD brand and many other apparel brands.

Tim, we'll start with you. Obviously we've been working on this for a while. Can you give us an overview of how the opportunity arose with AJ and how we were able to pull things together.

TIM CINDRIC: It's always cool to have a new chapter in Roger's book. When you look at the things that we've been through over the years, this kind of marks another day.

When we looked at this and said, How do we put this together in a short period of time? Mike's help, the support that IZOD put together really in a very short period of discussions, as we looked at how to take advantage of that, we discussed a bit about what about AJ Allmendinger, when you look at the best available guys out there. Mike, he didn't even hesitate. He said, I'm all in. I think that's a great idea.

For us to be able to sit back up here, he and I have been through quite a bit in the last 15 months. To sit back here and have another chapter, another opportunity to win this place is really cool.

THE MODERATOR: AJ, obviously a very exciting day for you. You've been through a lot in the past year. To work your way back here with Penske Racing in this place, talk about looking forward to the Indy 500 as well as Barber coming up.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: For me it's amazing to go through the last year of what happened, get back to this point. For me to be able to run Indy is amazing, but the fact to have Roger Penske, everybody at the Penske organization, Tim, to ask me to come back, still be a part of the family. Roger told me the first day when I signed with him last year, Once you're in the family, you're always in the family.

As everything occurred to go through that, have Roger not just say those words but act them, not with this, but every week calling me to make sure I'm all right, make sure I'm doing the right things, just more than anything being okay, that to me meant the world.

To have him ask me to come back and ask me to drive one of his IndyCars here at the Speedway, and in general, that means more than anything I could have imagined. At that point, Roger didn't need to help me if he didn't want to. To have him do that, have Mike and IZOD come aboard and take a shot with me at this, it's fantastic.

I feel excited about it. Just the short amount of time we've spent together, dinner last night, learning about the company, just being a part of it, for me it's kind of a second coming of a dream come true in a lot of different days.

THE MODERATOR: Welcome back.
Mike, talk a little bit about having this guy represent IZOD and what you're looking forward to.

MIKE KELLY: We couldn't be happier. We get to race, first off, at the Indy 500. That in and of itself it's amazing. This track is so cool. To race with the Penske organization, to be with Roger, then to support AJ to get a shot at an American drinking the milk, being in the winner's circle, we couldn't be prouder.

Take any one of those three, racing at the Indy 500, be with Roger Penske, Tim and those guys in the office and in the pit, then AJ, he's an interesting cat, an interesting guy, this is going to be a lot of fun. I found out that last night.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Not sure how to take that (laughter).

MIKE KELLY: It's going to be a lot of fun.

THE MODERATOR: I also want to take the opportunity to welcome all the fans watching on the Internet. Glad you could be a part of this as well.
We'll open it up for questions from the audience.

Q. Will AJ be in all the races? Any conflicts NASCAR-wise?

TIM CINDRIC: Right now we have two IZOD races for AJ, Barber and Indianapolis. Mike, can we have some more?

MIKE KELLY: That's called: Being put on the spot (smiling).

We got Barber, we got Indy.

TIM CINDRIC: It's our goal to put together more races. Whether or not they're IZOD races or what have you, it's our goal to expand in whatever way we can.

Q. Tim, does Penske Racing have a drug test policy within its own boundaries?

TIM CINDRIC: We do. I think it was pretty well-documented when we went through this situation last year with AJ, as we looked at it, it was very difficult for us to put the driver in a different scenario than the rest of the expectations of us.

So there was really no choice but to have things play out the way they did. The difference, and some people missed this, AJ has looked at that whole situation, he's gone through what's required of him, and he continues to be I guess selected to be sure that everybody's behind him and he's doing the right things.

Those assurances, there was a timeout there for a while, he's paid his dues, he's assured everybody he's on the right track, and we totally support that.

Q. AJ, when you were sat down initially, did you have any indication that if you follow a certain track, you may get the call back or was the call back a surprise?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, you speak from Roger himself? As it all went down, I wasn't worried about a call from anybody, honestly. The first things I had to go through was figure out the process and what was expected of me, what I had to do to get back in racing as quick as possible, which is all I wanted to do.

Honestly, through that process, there's a lot of things that for me I had to go through as a person. We all know that anybody that has been around me, I always put the most pressure on myself. I always have or always will, whether it's the biggest strength of mine or biggest weakness.

Last year I was driving for Roger Penske, things weren't going right, I was stressed, I wasn't myself. First things first, I had to figure out if I wanted to race anymore. Finally for the first time in my life for the first time in 25 years I wasn't racing every weekend. In a way it was good because I had to figure out if I wanted to continue doing that. I quickly learned as I watched races on TV, I did.

I had to be happier first before I got into a racecar. I always looked at it, if racing is going well, that will make everything else happy. Well, for me it's the total opposite. When you get in the racecar, you're totally focused, physically, mentally, everything that goes with it.
I wasn't worried about a phone call from anybody, getting a chance. I had to make sure if I got the chance, if and when, I was ready to go. That time period, going through that, is what I focused on.

There's no secrets. Nobody's perfect in life. Unfortunately mine was played out on TV over one dumb mistake. But with that mistake, you can do two things: you can keep making those mistakes or learn from them and be a lot better.

I said it when I started, I'll say it every day, I'm a lot better for it. I'm a lot better mentally and physically for whatever opportunity.

No, I wasn't expecting the opportunity to be at the Indy 500 with Roger Penske, but that was something for me I had to work hard on. Like we all go through, certain days are good, certain days are bad.

I feel a lot better for going through it. I can actually look at Tim Cindric, Mike Kelly, Roger Penske in the eye and say, I'm ready to go and I'm going to work hard. I'm going to do all the right things. Whether that's good enough in the end? I hope so. If not, I can look myself in the mirror and be happy with it.

I went through a lot in the last few months for the good. Certain people may wonder why you get a second opportunity, but for me it's just through hard work and being happier away from the racetrack. When I'm at the racetrack I'm really happy.

Q. AJ, now you're on this big stage, assuming you're going to be able to handle the position, talk about the challenges that this track presents for a person such as yourself.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I've been told I'm not supposed to hit the brakes when I get down to the end of the straightaway now. I'm so used to that in a stockcar. It's going to be the first challenge, to hold my foot down (laughter).

No, I mean, it's just the challenge of not being in one of these cars in seven years. It's a lot different. When I tested at Sebring, it's a lot different than what I remember. There's a lot of work that goes into that.

Obviously being around this place in its own right it's completely different than anything I'll do. Fortunately enough, there's a lot of great people on this team. I'm with the best organization to start with, and they have Rick Mears, Helio, just everybody, Roger, everybody that has been a part of this great place for so many years that can help me out.

The good thing about Indy is you get a couple weeks leading up to the race to keep working on that. There's a lot of challenges, not just one little challenge. It's about putting it all together.

Luckily we'll have a test in Barber, the race in Barber. Obviously it's not an oval, but it's getting used to the car. I'll be prepared as much as possible as I can be before I get on the racetrack. Once I get on here, it's about trying to learn and take it step by step.

For me, I'm fortunate enough to have a lot of great people in this organization that will be there to help me.

Q. (No microphone.)

AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, there's no added pressure with the name. As I said, the most pressure comes from myself to go out there and perform. If I didn't think I could be here and have a chance to win this race, I wouldn't waste these guys' time and money. There's no point in doing that.

But I know at the same point there's a lot of work that's going to go into that. There's no pressure except for myself.

It's funny, I never met A.J. until the Sebring test. I walked downstairs in the hotel in the morning. He was sitting there having breakfast. I thought it was a great opportunity to go meet him. A.J. Foyt, my dad told my mom, if it's a boy, the name has to be A.J., if it was a girl he didn't give a crap what the name was.

Mine stands for Anthony James, and A.J. is Anthony Joseph.

Q. AJ, when you were running Champ Car, Franchitti was also in CART, he never paid attention to the Indy 500. He started running here, it became a huge deal. Named for A.J. Foyt, being an open-wheel guy, then you went to NASCAR, did you think you would never run the Indy 500 again?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, it was tough back in Champ Car because when the two series were split, not having that opportunity to race here, honestly I felt as a kid growing up when I was 10, 11, 12 years old, when it was the heyday of CART, I loved the Indy 500. I thought the best of the best showed up. It was great to see.

I felt like obviously with the split, it took away from the prestige of the Indy 500 because the best of the best weren't there the whole time.

So for me, honestly, it was like I kind of lost a little bit of the concept of what Indy really was until I got here for the first time in a stockcar and pulled out in pit lane and realized, God, this is what Indy is all about, coming down the front straightaway for the first time. My mind immediately went back to, What's it like in an IndyCar, coming down at 240 and turn into turn one?

I didn't think I'd never have a chance to run there, I just didn't know what the opportunity would be. I've always wanted to be here at the Indy 500. It's still the biggest race I think on this planet. You look at the crowd when it shows up on race day and just everything that leads up to the Indy 500, what it means, the names that are on the Borg-Warner trophy, the prestige here.

I'd love to be part of it. It's going to be amazing to be a part of it as a driver being introduced, but it would be a lot better, as Mike has told me several times in the last 12 hours, it would be a lot better to win that. I got that.

Yeah, I'm real excited about it.

Q. Tim, you obviously sat with Roger and assessed the risk. How big do you think the risk was and why did you take the risk when Penske has the pick of any driver that they would want?

TIM CINDRIC: Well, I'm not sure we have a pick of any driver.

I think with regard to the confidence that we have, again, we were pretty close to his whole situation. When you look at it, yeah, you take calculated risks throughout this business every day. For us it's not really a risk. We look at it and say, If you're sitting in his shoes, you've gone down the road to recovery, the only other road there is is a dead end. There's nothing there.

I feel like Roger has always been a loyal guy, always been somebody that's been there for anybody. There's a lot of stories like this that a lot of people don't know about, a lot more than you think, in terms of giving somebody a second chance, being there for them when they're needed.

When you look at this thing, we talked about it, there's more good that can come out of it than bad. At the end of the day, the worst thing that can come out of it is we get another driver, in some ways, when you break it down to the very simple aspects of it.

But when you look at situations like last night, perfect example. A friend of mine calls me, a good friend in the business, and he says, Hey, man, I've got somebody that's in the business that has a son. That son is a great athlete. He's got a scholarship. He's at the top of his game in high school sports. This kid hung out with the wrong buddies, wrong friends, and ended up making a mistake, got tested. Now he's got his whole future on the line, his scholarship, his athletics, everything else. His parents have talked to me to see if there's a way if he can talk to AJ Allmendinger to see how he can go through that process to see if their son can do that.

To me that was like really cool and brought the whole thing full circle as I'm driving back from Savannah last night about why we're doing this.

Q. AJ, you can see a mistake can be humbling. Racecar driving itself will make you humble. Have you discussed the mistake you made with some of your colleagues, friends, drivers? Could you share with us some advice that someone may have given you?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, as you said, the sport will always humble you. Most of the time you'll have more downs than ups. It's the ups that make the downs worth it.

When it all happened, I feel like for a while I kind of closed off because I was trying to figure it out myself. The thing that really helped was I had a lot of family and friends that were there, my parents, people like Roger, that were close to me that helped me get through it.

A lot that helped me get through it was the people I was racing against at that time in NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart. Those guys reached out to me and saw how I was, just told me advice, whether it was just be honest, tell the truth, do what you have to do, or just events that they went through. Whether people have seen or haven't seen behind the scenes the stuff they went through, the fact that they trusted me more than anything.

Guys like Ryan Hunter-Reay, for instance, I hadn't talked to him much in the past because obviously our paths were going down a different way. He reached out to me. A guy like Will Power, Helio, all those guys, even guys I hadn't spoke to a lot that reached out. There was a lot of support there from them. That helped me get through it.

Family and friends are obviously really important in life. But at the same point when you're racing against people at over 200 miles per hour, those are the ones that have to trust you. If they don't trust you to start with, you're not going to be back in the sport or not. They're going to be the ones that determine whether they want you there or not.

It was those people that meant so much because they trusted me and they said, Just do what you do, get back. Do whatever it is that you have to do, whatever the process is, and get back as quick as possible. That to me has meant more than anything.

As Tim talked about, with a situation like that, I'm not scared to talk about it. I think sometimes people get scared to bring it up and discuss it or anything like that, or people try to shy away from it. It's happened. It's out there in the press. Nothing's going to change about what was said in the past, what people are going to determine in the future. I learned through all of this, all you can do is work on yourself. If you're happy with yourself, in certain ways it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks.

I'm always open to talk about it, whether it's people that are going through it, people that made mistakes, people that just want to discuss it, it's something to be open about, something to be open from, it's life.

Q. Mike, I know you're a huge race fan. Several years ago IZOD made a huge commitment to this series. It's my understanding this is the last year of that contract. Moving forward, have there been discussions internally about where to take this thing?

MIKE KELLY: It's our sixth year. We're proud of the series. I'm a huge fan. IZOD is a fan of the sport. It's an amazing product. What goes on here, the 500 alone. But each of these races, I don't know how many there are this year exactly. Each of the races, the road courses, ovals.

Today is about AJ, our relationship with Penske. We're not here to talk about our deal with the league.

But we're supportive of everything that's going on here, especially this idea. The idea of getting an American in the winner's circle at the Indy 500 is great for the sport, great for the league. What's good for the league is good for us because we've got our name on it.

Q. Tim, you said initially early on that you have your own testing program. What did you say when NASCAR says, Uh-oh, the red flag is up?

TIM CINDRIC: Maybe you misunderstood in terms of the drivers and that type of thing. They have a program that's right in parallel, if not more so, than what we have to do as employers. In that case, Roger was actually on an airplane on his way back from Europe. Roger knows I only call him when I need something. I usually wait for him to call me. If I'm calling him, it's pretty cool, because he usually takes my call because I don't call him very often. He'll check in daily for the most part.

The process to do that, you have to go through air traffic control, so forth, then he calls you. I just talked to him 30 minutes ago. He had taken off, was on his way back from Europe.

Anyway, I get ahold of him. So what did you forget last time we talked? This probably isn't the way you want to come back from your vacation, but in the next couple hours we have to decide who is going in this car at Daytona, went through the situation. His response was, Hey, nothing I can do about it from here so figure out the next steps. That was kind of how that all took place.

With regard to the drivers, the sanctioning bodies, you have such a stringent program for them, one that's very random, that to do that across the masses isn't really practical. We rely on the sanctioning bodies a lot relative to the drivers.

Q. Mike, I applaud your decision to back AJ. Top flight American drivers are an endangered species. AJ, did the potential accelerate to come back to IndyCar, that you might like to go back to open-wheel again?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I always told Roger, I told him every day, if he wants me to drive one of his racecars, I'm not going to be dumb and say no.

We were focused on the Cup program, trying to go out there and win races. At that point the year hadn't started off very well. What was tough was I felt like we were actually making headway right before it all happened, starting to have some of our better runs.

Once something like that happens, for me I'm open to all opportunities. At that point last year Roger asked me to come to Fontana as a guest of his and come back to an IndyCar race, see what it was all about. At that point the championship was on the line. It had been a great season for IndyCar in general when it came to the racing aspect of it.

For me I have a lot of great friends still in IndyCar, so I keep up with it every weekend I can, every race they have. It was just an opportunity to show up and say, What's out there? What opportunities might there be? What chances are there going to be, whether it's IndyCar, NASCAR, GRAND-AM, whatever? I've learned quickly in life, you don't say no to anything. You kind of look at all options and see what is best in life.

For me it's just been about finding out what that opportunity is, whether it's IndyCar or NASCAR. Be competitive, have chances to win races and just enjoy it, just have fun being in a racecar no matter what it is.

Did I think it would lead to this? I didn't know. Generally I just take every day as it comes now. I'm not surprised by anything. As I said, more than anything, I'm just trying to make myself ready, whatever those chances are. Be physically, mentally, emotionally ready to go. When I get a call to go in a racecar, I can know I'm 100% committed to it. That's what I feel like now.

The fortunate thing is at least my phone has kept ringing. It hasn't been silent. Ring, somebody call me. There's not enough adjectives to say what I feel now. Amazing, excited, nervous, just pumped up to have this chance, to be back with Roger and the Penske family, to have IZOD take a chance and say they want to be a part of me and they want me to be a part of them.

So I'm ready to go. Anything better would be maybe get some more golf clothes. I'm a huge golfer, too. Just throwing that out. Checking out their stuff on the course. If I have to represent them out there, too, I will. Just saying, whatever you need. I think you have a couple of good golfers you represent. One lives by me. So if you want to throw that out there. We could do some TV stuff, whatever you want. Just throwing it out there, thinking ahead (smiling).

Q. AJ, compare what you'll feel the day you'll go out on the track in an IndyCar compared to a stockcar. Roger expects a lot from his drivers beyond most owners. Is that an added pressure or do you accept that?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, the first part of that question, I'm not going to lie, I'm going to be nervous as hell rolling out. It was the same way when I was in a stockcar. For me, when I haven't done something before, I have those nerves. I think it's a good thing. If I wasn't nervous, I wouldn't care.

The anticipation of rolling out there first day, rookie orientation, it's going to be fun and nerve-wracking, so many emotions wrapped together at the same time. It's going to take a few laps to get used to it. Once I get used to it, it's down to business.

With your second question, Roger, yeah, he demands a lot from his drivers, but he's one of the easiest guys to work for, which surprised me last year. I was so stressed out at the beginning of the year, things weren't going right, we were having mechanical issues. He was going to be on me saying, We got to go out there and do it this weekend. He was at ease more than anybody else. It takes time, don't worry about it, things will come together, you're doing fine, just relax.

TIM CINDRIC: The drivers, they got it easy.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: He might have been in the next room with Tim going, What the hell is he doing out there? Get on him.

TIM CINDRIC: Free pass.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, he's a great guy to work for.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time. Very excited about the upcoming season. Happy to welcome AJ, to the team.

Credit - IMS 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Allmendinger to Drive Team Penske IndyCar in 2013

Team Penske announced today that AJ Allmendinger will join its IZOD IndyCar Series program in 2013. Allmendinger, who rose up through the ranks of open-wheel racing before transitioning to NASCAR, will compete in at least two IndyCar events for Team Penske this season, including the Indianapolis 500.

IZOD will once again be a primary sponsor of the No. 2 Team Penske car for multiple races this season. Allmendinger will drive the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet at this year's Indianapolis 500, scheduled for May 26 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 31-year-old Allmendinger will also compete in the April 7 IZOD IndyCar Series race at the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Ala., in the IZOD machine for Team Penske.

Today's announcement represents a homecoming for Allmendinger on a couple of different fronts. He will return to his roots as the Los Gatos, Calif., native raced in the Champ Car World Series from 2004-2006 when he earned five wins, two poles and 14 podium finishes over a three-year period. It also means a return to Penske Racing. Allmendinger drove for the organization's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team for the first 17 races of the 2012 season before he was suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy. After successfully completing NASCAR's Road to Recovery program, Allmendinger returned to compete in four Cup Series events for another team at the end of the 2012 season.

"It is exciting to welcome AJ back to Penske Racing," said Roger Penske. "He obviously went through a tough time last year but he has done everything he needed to in order to get back to racing at the top level of the sport. We have always believed in AJ and his ability and he deserves this opportunity. We think he will be a strong competitor this season in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Team Penske and we look forward to racing with him in the IZOD car at Barber and at the Indianapolis 500."

When Allmendinger transitioned from open-wheel racing to NASCAR, he left as one of the hottest drivers in Champ Car. In his last season racing open-wheel cars in 2006, Allmendinger earned five wins - including an impressive stretch of three in a row - and seven podium results on his way to finishing third in the series championship.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back to my roots and racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series," said Allmendinger, who tested the No. 2 IndyCar for Team Penske at Sebring International Raceway on Feb. 19. "I have to thank Roger (Penske), Tim (Cindric) and everyone at Team Penske for this opportunity. I think it's every driver's dream to race for Team Penske at the Indy 500 and that experience is going to be incredible. I also have to thank IZOD for their support and for giving me a chance to show what I can do. I definitely intend to make the most of it."

Allmendinger will next drive the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske car at the IZOD IndyCar Series spring training test sessions, March 12-13 at Barber Motorsports Park.

As he rose up the ladder of his open-wheel racing development, Allmendinger was one of the most decorated American racers in recent history. He won the Barber Dodge Pro Series title in 2002 and captured the Toyota Atlantic Series championship the following season. Allmendinger went on to earn Rookie of the Year honors in the Champ Car World Series in 2004 as he continued to excel in IndyCar.

"Everyone at IZOD is proud to continue the brand's sponsorship of Team Penske in 2013 and we look forward to working with AJ (Allmendinger) as he makes his return to open-wheel racing," said Mike Kelly, Executive Vice President, The PVH Marketing Group. "AJ is a great fit for the brand as he embodies IZOD's youthful and competitive American spirit. We hope to see the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske car take the checkered flag at Barber, and on racing's biggest stage at the Indianapolis 500 where we'd all love a storybook ending with AJ drinking the milk in Victory Lane."

Credit - Penske Racing PR

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Phoenix Race Preview

AJ Allmendinger will return to the Phoenix Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team in the Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway.  Allmendinger will drive the No. 51 Guy Roofing Chevrolet in his fifth Sprint Cup Series start with the team.

Allmendinger is no stranger to Phoenix International Raceway. He has eight previous Sprint Cup Series starts at the one-mile oval and has driven to four Top-15 finishes and two Top-10s. He has three career front-row starts there, including a pole in 2010. Phoenix Racing has made 16 Cup Series starts at Phoenix with a best finish of ninth in 2005 with driver Johnny Sauter.

"This will be good,” said Allmendinger. “It's been a few months since I've been in a stock car. I haven't been in one of the Gen-6 cars yet, so it will take a little time to get acclimated. Phoenix International Raceway is a great place for me to get back behind the wheel. I've always enjoyed the race track. It will definitely feel different, but I'll be ready to go.

"It definitely helps to go to a track that I enjoy already,” he said. “It's a tough race track, especially with the repave. It starts off slick when we make our first few laps, then it gains grip. It picks up a ton of grip pretty quickly, then goes back to being slick for the race. It's definitely a challenging race track.

“I know the guys will have a good race car ready for the weekend,” said Allmendinger. “I was really impressed with their run last week at Daytona. It showed that they're putting together solid equipment and have a good feel for the new car. I think I'll have to ease into it for the first 30-45 minutes and get used to the new car. But after that, I'll be up to speed and ready to go.”

The California native said PIR is one of the most technical and challenging tracks in NASCAR.

“It takes finesse and you have to hit your marks perfect every time,” he said. “There's barely any banking, which means it's easy to slip and slide if you come into the corners too hot. You also have to be mindful of your brakes. It's easy to use them up in the early stages of the race and not have any left for the end.

“I think that's what I enjoy so much about the track,” he said. “You have to be on top of your game to have a good day there. I'm really looking forward to hopping in the Guy Roofing Chevy this weekend."

Credit - AJ Allmendinger Press Release

Monday, January 28, 2013

Daytona Rolex 24 Race Recap

Michael Shank Racing Returns to Rolex 24 Podium

After an early-race setback cost the team seven laps to the race leader, Michael Shank Racing staged a huge comeback at the Daytona International Speedway to score a third place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Drivers Ozz Negri, John Pew, AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, and Justin Wilson rallied behind the huge effort of the defending champion crew to take the group’s second consecutive Rolex 24 podium finish, and the fourth podium result for team owner Mike Shank in the huge endurance race.

“I’m happy on the one hand that the 60 car came from essentially nine total laps down,” said Mike Shank. “We led the thing after being super aggressive. Everybody worked their butt off. I couldn’t be more happy about it. Thank you to Ford Racing—Jamie Allison here, Mr. Raj Nair (Ford Vice President for Global Product Development) here today. It was great. Looking forward to next year and still want to win. I’m literally more proud of the group today [than last year] because this was incredibly stressful and incredibly hard, so I’m grateful that they all hung in.”

Running just one lap behind the lead late in the race, the sister Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley of Gustavo Yacaman, Chris Cumming, Michael Valiante, and Jorge Goncalvez, was also well-placed for a strong finish, but contact with a GT machine spelled an early end to the effort of the foursome, which was poised for a return to the Rolex Podium thanks to its strong and steady pace.

Allmendinger opened the race from sixth on the grid. Having led every Rolex 24 he has ever entered, the 31-year-old was looking to extend that streak once again. But less than half an hour after the drop of the green flag, the No. 60 Ford-Riley was in the pits with a nose full of dirt and a deranged front left wheel. A quick diagnosis from the crew determined that the left front toe link needed to be replaced. While the setback was significant, everyone on the team was thankful that the mechanical failure occurred when the NASCAR pilot was in the Kink corner, rather than flat out on the high banks of the Daytona oval. Despite quick pit work, the car returned to the field some seven laps down.

But the race wasn’t done trying to knock the team down. After getting back to within four laps of the leader, the alert engineering staff monitoring the telemetry saw a fuel pressure issue. Again with a quick diagnostic decision, the team brought the car into the garage—where podium dreams traditionally go to die—but quick work brought the car back on track only two laps behind its previous position, before the unscheduled stop.

The die was cast with the team some six laps down from the leader with 12 hours yet to run. Using the most of shrewd pit strategy, strong driving, and a car that was quick and reliable, the team was once again a common utterance on the lips of the SPEED broadcast team as Allmendinger, Pew, Ambrose, Negri, and Wilson all teamed up to claw their way back onto the lead lap. Ultimately, the effort saw Allmendinger move into the overall lead on lap 665.

A dream return to the top step of the podium was not in the cards, however. Allmendinger had to finally cede his position to the race-winning car’s unparalleled topline speed, despite lap after lap of valiant defense. A second blow came on an ensuing restart, when Allmendinger was muscled off course while fighting for second place. With some breath taking strategy and smart, strong driving, the three-time Rolex 24 podium finisher came home third after a roller coaster of a 24 hour race.

“At five o’clock yesterday afternoon, I wouldn’t have dreamed to be on my way to the podium right now,” said Pew. “But I know the Shank guys, I know they don’t give up, and I’m not surprised. Nobody gave up, nobody put their heads down, everybody worked as hard as they could. You never know how it’s going to happen in the end, and I’m really happy with the podium. I’m just so fortunate to have met all these guys in the Shank team, and Ozz, and AJ, Justin, and Marcos. I’m very fortunate for how this all came together.”

“You always want to do your best for Mike,” said Justin. “He’s just so enthusiastic that it rubs off on everyone. If you’d have told us after the first hour that we’d have a chance of finishing third we’d have been over the moon. As you’re standing on the podium you’re thinking ‘there’s nothing quite like being first’, but third place after everything we’ve come through in this race is a great result. I’ve got to thank everyone at Michael Shank Racing and Ford for doing such a great job and giving us the opportunity.”

The weekend was full of comebacks, as longtime Michael Shank Racing pilot Ozz Negri saw his first official race laps after suffering an accident in off-season testing that resulted in a broken ankle. “To me it was just amazing to be able to be here,” said Negri. “A week ago, I didn’t know if I’d even be able to race. I had a broken foot, and I got my stint in and to find myself on the podium—it just tells you what this team is built with. Ford, Justin Wilson, Ambrose, AJ, John Pew, Mike Shank Racing crew, Continental Tires. I’m very proud. We never give up.

“It’s just a good momentum. You know, Daytona’s been good to us. This is the third time I’ve been on the podium with AJ and Justin racing together. Now having Marcos, and the second time with John, it’s a blast. Those guys are awesome. I’m just very thankful.”

“The biggest thing is MSR is just a world class operation,” said former Australian V8 Supercar Champion and six-time NASCAR winner, Ambrose. “It’s been a privilege to drive for them and be a part of this team. I’ve had a blast. I was nervous getting in for my first stint; I didn’t think I had done enough in practice to be ready, but the team’s so organized I got confident pretty quickly behind the wheel, and the car was working well. It was a great experience, it really was.”

“It’s really those guys over there—it’s those guys who bust their butt,” said Allmendinger as he motioned to the crew. “They had so much work to do, and they did it in so little time and all my teammates—John, Ozz, Justin and then Marcos put a great stint in right before I got in, Justin, as always, is spot on, so it’s always a pleasure to race with these guys, and race with this team, and we’ll come back and do it again and win this thing next year.

“It starts with Mike Shank—the attitude that he has, the effort he puts into this race team. He takes care of his guys. I think this is my eighth year racing it with him and I saw it from the first year. They don’t quit whether it’s a small problem or it looks like the engine blows up and they’re trying to put a new one in. Just pleased to go out there and to be able to take this car and get it on the podium. Just hopefully it kicks off for Ozz and John to try and win a championship.”

The sister No. 6 car, which had scored a run to the podium in 2013, was unable to play a role in the race on Sunday afternoon, despite having been well positioned by strong drives from all four in the line up.

“Last year it was very good,” said Yacaman. “We kept our nose clean, did what we were supposed to do, and got the job done at the end. This year, we weren’t so lucky. The GT traffic—and basically everyone—was more aggressive. In between both my stints, I think I got hit six times. Jorge just made a mistake—everyone makes mistakes. It was hard. I was a little bit tired. But we live and learn. The crew was perfect. The car did not have a mechanical issue at all, and like I said, we got hit a couple of times, and I’m pretty sure that Michael, and Jorge, and Chris had their moments as well in the car and their heart skipped a beat. The Ford engine ran great, shifting right on the limiter with no issues whatsoever. I think our strong points were the engine and the team really. The guys did an amazing job, the team did an amazing job.”

Michael Shank Racing will look to build some championship momentum when the Rolex Sports Car Series debuts at the Circuit of the Americas March 2.

Credit -