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