TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN LAST WEEK AT TALLADEGA: “I was just happy to roll the car back onto the hauler with all the tires on it still. I have not had good luck there so I tried to do everything that race that I thought was right to put myself in a smart position to at least finish the race. And then hopefully have a good finish at the end. That last restart starting on the bottom I had a lot of help with Paul Menard. His car was really fast. All the RCR cars and the ECR motors were fast. He hooked up with me and a couple of those gaps opened up. It was like the seas parted for us on the restart and got to fifth. I’m not sure if I would have had a shot if the yellow didn’t come out. I had a run coming to the white flag, but Paul (Menard) wasn’t clear at that point, so I didn’t want to move up. But overall to have a top-five finish at Talladega, have the car roll back in the hauler no scratches on it, good day and good momentum.”
YOU AND THIS TEAM HAVE REALLY PROGRESSED THIS SEASON. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS GOING TO A RACE LIKE THE COCA-COLA 600? WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO GET THE NO. 47 TEAM IN THE ALL-STAR RACE NEXT WEEK? “I try to take it one weekend at a time. I’m really proud of this race team right now. It’s good with the way we are running, all the sponsors that we have on our race car, all the big-name sponsors to get them publicity gets them some promotion. The team is always doing a lot of promotion with the sponsors. Just to be able to get that out is really good. Really for me I know we are 15th in points and everybody talks about ‘you are right on the edge of the Chase’. I don’t even worry about it. It’s just one weekend at a time. We are going to have our up’s and down’s. We can come to Kansas this weekend we could dominate, we could struggle. It’s just the way being a small team is just really trying to take it one practice session, one lap at a time. Obviously, it would be awesome to win this weekend, get into the All-Star race go to the Coke 600 and have a good run and keep the momentum going. But the only way we can do that is just keep building as a team.”
WHAT HAS CLICKED HERE THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? “I think it is just we are starting to put the weekends together. We are maximizing the practice time. We are doing just good things throughout the race, whether it’s pit stops or just making the right calls, and we are having fast race cars. The beginning of the year we had decent cars, but we just never put the weekend together. We would either struggle really bad on Friday or qualify really bad or make an uphill climb on Sunday or have to really make a lot of big changes going into Sunday and not know really what the car was going to do. I feel like the last few weekends Brian Burns (crew chief) and I we are really starting to gel and this whole team.
“We sit down and discuss how to maximize the practice sessions, what do we need to do. We are learning with the new rules package, working with RCR the whole alliance. We are learning our set-up’s about where we need to start to be closer when we start unloading the weekend. It’s just baby steps. That is really what it is. I’m trying to not get too high with where we are right now because there is so much time. I will worry about possible Chase or where we are at in points when we have 20 races in things like that. At the beginning of the year if you said coming into Kansas you are 15th you are right on the edge, you have had three top 10’s, you have been running well I would have said ‘perfect I’m happy with that’. I’m happy with where we are at right now, but not satisfied. I know we have a lot of room to improve and a lot of steps we need to improve on.”
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF CHATTER ABOUT THE TIRES THIS WEEKEND DO YOU GUYS HAVE ANY CONCERNS GOING INTO PRACTICE AND FOR THE RACE THIS WEEKEND? “Same tires for everybody. We didn’t test here so I didn’t feel the other tires. To me it’s good for me it’s all new to everybody now so we are not really at a disadvantage. I mean tires when you bring something completely new that nobody has run everybody is going to have a little bit of a concern with it. It is what it is. You have got to adjust your car to what tires are on the race car. Goodyear is working hard to try to get the best tires possible. To me it’s been fun to a certain extend because you have to set your car up. You have to be easy on your tires. You can’t over abuse your tires at some of these race tracks otherwise you will use them up. We have seen that and I felt like our team has done a good job at adjusting to it. In the end it’s four tires on the race car. You set your car up around them and you go racing.”
WHY SHOULD FANS VOTE FOR AJ ALLMENDINGER THIS WEEK TO GET INTO THE ALL-STAR RACE? “Because they’ve got to be tired of voting for Danica (Patrick) I really feel like. I’m a fun loving guy. I was with Miss Sprint Cup last week, we were talking about it. I said I would do the worm across the stage if I get voted in, bust a move, whatever. We will have a good time with it. I’ve raced my way in a couple of times to the All-Star race. I love the new format now with us racing on Friday. So if you do get your car into the show and your whole team you can enjoy it a little bit more. When you race your way in you have no time to really have fun with your guys. It’s like turn the car around, okay everybody go up on stage, alright, boom, let’s go race. I like the new format of knowing that after Friday night you are in or you are not in. It would be cool. It’s just another chance to go out there and keep learning and keep improving. A fun race and hopefully the fans see when we are in it I have a good time with it.”
HOW MUCH FUN ARE YOU HAVING RIGHT NOW IN SPRINT CUP? “I really enjoy it. I’ve been on a lot of teams. I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing, but right now with this whole No. 47 group it starts with Tad Geschickter and his wife Jodi and Brad Daugherty just the atmosphere that they put around this team. The guys seem to be really enjoying it. I really enjoy this core group. I love being a part of this small team and leading the team and learning how. It’s the first time I’ve really had to learn how to lead a team. Every other team I’ve been on I’ve been the secondary guy and just kind of went along with the program. So right now I just enjoy so much. I put a lot of pressure on myself because Tad and Jodi and Brad have put so much sweat and tears and money into this team. We have got a lot of great sponsors that I have said. This weekend we have Kingsford on the car. They do a cool promotion for grilling out for Mom on Mom’s day so stuff like that. Right now when it comes to just family atmosphere, having fun with the team it’s by far the most fun I’ve ever had. I’ve told Tad many times already I would love for this team to be the last team I drive for. That is how much fun I’m having and just to keep trying to climb that mountain and have that David versus Goliath attitude to where we’ve got to go bet the big teams. I wouldn’t say we are beating them yet, but we are least getting closer. I take a lot of pride in it and I’m really enjoying it.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RCR ALIGNMENT WITH YOUR TEAM AND HOW THAT ALL WORKS?
“With the RCR alliance it’s been great because Richard (Childress) for our team at least has just opened his doors. I mean giving us all the information we can have. Our cars right now aren’t brand new cars they are cars from late last year. A lot of the No. 29 cars a couple of them that Kevin (Harvick) won with. So they are not brand new cars, but at the same point they are still fast race cars. They have given us just basically open information, engineering, set-up’s, everything that we need to know what makes the cars fast. It’s been great sharing and hopefully we are bringing something back to them. That has been my goal is to not just keep taking but hopefully bring something back to where they are learning and we can make everybody as a whole better. Richard has been just fantastic. I’ve been part of an alliance before and this is the best I’ve ever seen. All credit goes to him and their race shop for allowing us to have that. Hopefully it just keeps continuing.”