Thursday, April 24, 2014

Richmond Race Preview

    Track: Richmond International Raceway
    Event: Toyota Owners 400
    Date:  Saturday, April 26th 
    Time:  7 p.m. ET
    TV / Radio:  FOX / MRN / SiriusXM


    Take it easy: "We ran pretty good and finished in the top-15 (15th) last year at Richmond International Raceway,” Allmendinger said. “We started off massively tight and we were plowing, but ended up with a decent finish. I do actually like racing at Richmond a couple times a year. It is a tough track to prepare for during the weekend. You do not practice at all at the same time of the race. It makes going into the race difficult. You have got to be real easy on your rear tires. At the same point, you have got to get the car to turn. I always think it is fun the way the race plays out because I think the driver can make a difference by not using up the rear tires. It is a cool short track that really is not like any other track so it makes it fun to go to because it is unique. I thought last year we were decent. So far, our short track programs have been pretty good. Hopefully, it will be the same.”

    Time off: “It was awesome to have some time off this past weekend,” Allmendinger said. “I didn’t do a darn thing. I played golf and sat on the couch. It was nice to have a break in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule for me and my guys. The deal for me is the less I travel, the happier I am.”

    Recharging: “Every weekend is a new weekend for us,” Allmendinger said. “I feel like it is a chance for us to continue to grow. For my guys, they have been busting their butts all season long. Forming the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) alliance and the switchover to Chevy (Chevrolet) was done relatively late last year. It came together kind of mid-December. My guys have been non-stop working. You could see they were a little worn down. Between the west coast races and all the rain we had - for a team like ours - it puts a lot of strain on my guys. They have done such a good job to build good cars and get us to where we are at. A break for them to get away from racing and be with their families this past weekend was really good for everyone.”

    Grilling: "On race day, I like to do a barbeque for the guys," Allmendinger said. "There's plenty of time to do that since the garage opens later in the day. So, we’re going to do that. We will probably grill steaks and chicken over Kingsford Charcoal and have some BUSH'S Grillin' Beans as a side of course. It's a good time."

    Have a shot:  “We are ready for Richmond International Raceway and think we have a good shot at a top-10 finish at that track if everything goes as planned,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “We feel like two of our strongest races this season took place at Phoenix International Raceway - we just had some unfortunate stuff happen during the race and our result did not reflect our effort - and Martinsville Speedway obviously. Richmond follows along in that direction setup wise. It is one of our strong suits I believe. We are confident we can make a strong showing there. AJ has a couple top-10s there and has run fairly well at Richmond in the past.” 

    Come a long way: “In our most recent race at Darlington Raceway, we were a little off,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. “Last year, we would have finished 35th instead we finished 15th. Those are the types of results I have been waiting on and I have been looking for over the years. Looking back, we just did not have the affiliation or the ability the last couple of seasons to get to where I thought we should be no matter what we tried. Now, we have opportunities to run extremely well. There have been some glaring mistakes we have made, but we are going to fix those things.”

    Things are lining up: “The technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) has been phenomenal,” Daugherty said. “A lot of times, most every place we went last year - outside the short tracks - we were out-powered, out-resourced and we were in a tough situation before we even left the shop. We did not have what we needed to be competitive and that is no longer the case. RCR and ECR Engines have done a great job for us so far. We have been reenergized and AJ is a talented young man with a lot of ability. It was just the right timing for him to step into the car. Bobby (Labonte) did a great job for us over the last few seasons and really helped keep a ship afloat that was really struggling. Now, we have been able to step up our pieces and parts. AJ’s going to get better and going to continue to grow as a driver. We think we are lining up for some big things. We have to keep taking one step forward each week and hopefully we can survive the dog days to have a great year. We have a good vibe over at the shop right now and it is exciting.”

    Got five on it: “It’s the little thing that adds up throughout the day,” Daugherty said. “We have eliminated the lack of horsepower, the lack of aero and the lack of information. We have got that. Now, it is a matter of focusing on small things that is going to get us in the mix at the end of the day to give us a chance on that last pit stop for my guys to tighten up their belts and really go out there focused and get AJ off pit road and get him back on the track and get him back in the opportunity for the last green flag. One of these days we are going to put ourselves in a green-white-checkered situation and I’m putting my five dollars on AJ. He will absolutely wheel that thing. All I ever ask him, if we get to that point, is to bring back the steering wheel."

    Great employees: “We are going forward,” Daugherty said. “My guys are working really hard. We have got some great people that believe in what we are trying to do. We don’t have 550 people in our building, but we have got some people that are dedicated to what they do. I am proud of all of them. They dig real hard all day long. It’s tough for teams our size to get a little bit of spotlight, but we are working towards it and trying our best to earn it.”

    Element of surprise: “The battle for us is to do 10 race segments and try stay in the top 20 as we go through the dog days and continue to battle,” Daugherty said. “We think we are going to shock some people and hopefully surprise some people by the end of the season.”


    AJ Allmendinger has 13 starts at Richmond International Raceway and two top-10 finishes. His best finish at the short track is seventh (4/30/2011). His average start is 18.769 and his average finish is 20.692.

    Career Starts: 199
    Top-fives:     5
    Top-10s:      31
    Pole Awards: 2
    First Start:  3/25/2007  Bristol
    First Pole:   4/10/2010  Phoenix
    Last Pole:    4/22/2012  Kansas
    Best Start:   1 - 4/10/2010 Phoenix
    Best Finish:  2 - 4/1/2012  Martinsville
    Driver DOB:  12/16/1981       
    Hometown:   San Jose, Calif.
    Crew Chief:   Brian Burns


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    Credit - Info & photos courtesy of JTG Daugherty Racing

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