Monday, May 5, 2014

Talladega Race Preview

Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Event: Aaron's 499
Date:  Sunday, May 4
Time: 1 PM ET


Superspeedway car: “We have the same car that we took to Daytona International Speedway where we had a brake problem,” Allmendinger said. “It was a brand new car from RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and we had no incidents on track, but we had a brake failure. During that long rain delay, it bled out the fluids and the brakes failed during the race. It was a fast car and we have cleaned it up and are loading it up in the trailer to go to Talladega Superspeedway."

More room to move: “The racing at Talladega Superspeedway is a little bit different than Daytona International Speedway,” Allmendinger said. “The track is wider at Talladega and there’s more room to work with if you want to try to get to the front of the pack. I think it is a little bit safer than Daytona because there you can get stuck in a lane and it is three wide and there is not a lot of space to maneuver around. In the end, the ‘Big One’ still has a real good shot of happening. I think we will at least have a good BUSH'S Beans Chevrolet for the race.”

Qualifying intrigue: “Now, qualifying time at Talladega Superspeedway is here and what the heck are we going to do?," Allmendinger said. "Qualifying is going to be interesting. That, will be crazy. My team has asked me to stay away from the pack, but who knows maybe I will jam it right in the middle. I’m looking forward to that. With all the cars out there for qualifying, I think there is a higher probability of the ‘Big One’ happening in qualifying than maybe in the race. Everybody is going to try to lay back and get that big draft and some guys are going to be checking up to try to make that person not get the big draft. I think we are all wondering how it is going to work out and how aggressive to be. That starting position really doesn’t mean a lot, but at the same point, heck you have a shot at a pole. I am interested to see how it plays out. Will drivers try to get that lap or not take the chance and ride around in the back? It's going to be chaos I think.”

Go time: “Then during the race, I think we will have a good car,” Allmendinger said. “ I feel like we will have a fast car. Talladega is a place where you just try to put yourself in the best spot possible. You know, if there is a shot of winning and you get lucky enough that you miss the ‘Big One’ and you put yourself in the right position that’s all you can do. So, it is the same theory as Daytona. You just try not to be the one that causes the ‘Big One.’ You try to do everything right and hope it’s meant to be.”  

Talladega experience: “You name it, it’s happened to me at Talladega,” Allmendinger said. “I’ve had a shot at winning the thing, I’ve flipped upside down and almost flipped again, I’ve got turned down the front straightaway by my teammate and so on. I think I have two top-15 finishes there and the rest of the results are not so good. We hope to change that this weekend and have a good race.” 

Patience is a virtue:  “We have the primary Daytona car that we are bringing to Talladega and we feel good about that car,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “We will not be too aggressive with our qualifying effort because we want to make sure we have the same car intact for the race. During the race, we will not be aggressive the first 100 laps and we will be more conservative. I feel like the way the qualifying format is set up that some cars will end up in the front that may not normally be there and there will be more of a likelihood of wrecks early on.”

17th in points:  “The big thing is that we can do this (make the Chase) and I keep trying to ingrain that in AJ’s head,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. “We can put ourselves in position to have a chance to be one of those 16. What we have to do is manage those 10 race runs and get the results we need each week that continues to put us in position. As we go through July and August – really the dog days in the NASCAR season– teams like ours (smaller teams) that is where we really have a tendency to struggle. If we can get into July at Daytona and work our way towards Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and some of those races and really come out of there with solid finishes, I think that we have a good opportunity as anyone. I think our race cars are good. Even before we moved to Chevrolet, we always had good cars. The one thing we struggled with the last three seasons was power. Now, with the ECR Engines, man those things flat grunt up off the corner."

Getting there first: “I believe we have a good opportunity as we go to places like Sonoma Raceway and Dover International Speedway because those are places where AJ does really well,” Daugherty said. “Anything can happen. If we can get into a green-white-checkered flag situation and put ourselves in the mix on a restart at the end of the race and it’s just a couple laps, I’m putting my money on AJ Allmendinger. I want him to go as hard as he can absolutely go - upside down, sideways, on fire, whatever trying to get to the checkered flag first.  We’re trying to get him a little motivated, but he doesn’t need much motivation. He’s very cautious and I appreciate that because it shows a lot of maturity and a lot of experience. I believe we’ve got a shot to win. Why not? Why can’t we have an opportunity to go out there and kick some of those big teams in the butt and maybe show up and mess up the party a little bit? I’d love it."

Best in the world: “Sure, we can win a race like Talladega, but that place scares me,” Daugherty said. “It really does. When the race starts, you forget they can run four and five wide and it’s such a big pack and when something happens, I don’t like it. AJ told me since I think I’m an aspiring race car driver that he would be glad to take Talladega off and let me have my one shot at glory. That’s when the reality comes home that these cats are the best in the world at what they do. We saw David Ragan with one of the smaller teams have success at a restrictor place race. We’re going to Talladega with hopefully the opportunity to put ourselves in a good spot. With these ECR Engines we are going to make the steam. So, hopefully at the end of the day we will survive everything that goes on and get a chance to get to that checkered flag.”

Richmond International Raceway reflection: “AJ did an excellent job at Richmond,” Daugherty said. “Brian Burns made some excellent decisions during those last few cautions that put us in position to take advantage of a good run. We ran in the top 12 all day and got back to 18th at one point, but AJ marched it up through the field and got us in position to take advantage of that last restart. When we restarted, all I wanted was for him to bring the steering wheel back. He goes out and he was absolutely wheeling that thing. We couldn’t quite catch up to the first five. We kind of had a little gap between us. Those cats were flat getting after it. We finished sixth. It was a good night for the No. 47 team and we need more of those.”


AJ Allmendinger has eight starts at Talladega Superspeedway. His best finish is 11th-place (4/17/2011). His average start is 21.000 and his average finish is 25.750. He has led six laps.

Career Starts: 200
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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