Track: Richmond International Raceway
Event: Federated Auto Parts 400
Race Date / Time: Saturday, September 6 / 7:30 PM ET
TV / Radio: ABC / MRN Radio / SiriusXM
Richmond: “The first Richmond (International Raceway) race earlier this season, we were pretty good there and ended up finishing sixth,” Allmendinger said. “I feel like our short track program is the best we have besides road courses. Hopefully, we can go there and have a good run. It’s all about focusing on going into the Chase. In a way, we are focused on Richmond, but at the same time looking ahead. We need a solid run and know our expectations going into it. Richmond is a place that changes throughout the night. It gets slick and it burns off the rear tires, which makes it fun to manage as a driver. It’s just a fun race in general especially with the Chase berth on the line and you always get a big crowd to watch in anticipation for what is on the line. I’m just going to enjoy it because fortunately we don’t have to worry about it since we are locked in the Chase.”
First Chase ever: “We got to the Chase as a family,” Allmendinger said. “We have a hard working race team with not a lot of employees. So, it comes down to we are all learning together. For a lot of us, it is our first Chase ever. So, I think it is really about what we have done the whole season and it is about just trying to get better.”
Go for the win in Chase: “If you win, you are in the next grouping,” Allmendinger said. “For that reason, if you have an opportunity to go for a win, you are going to take it. You are going to do everything you can.”
Fun Chase scenarios for the fans: “For the fans, there are going to be so many different scenarios playing out,” Allmendinger said. “Now, it is about who is going to make it to the next round. There are going to be so many different storylines that the fans can watch for, and that TV can talk about. It’s going to be a fun format. When we go to Homestead (Miami Speedway), it is all about those last four guys and who crosses that finish-line first wins.”
Level of satisfaction: “There is a lot of joy and a lot of excitement, but at the same point we are all trying to get to the point where we are like, ‘Hey, we just don’t want to be satisfied with just being in the Chase,’" Allmendinger said. "The guys back in the shop are working so hard to get our first three cars ready. We are not trying to look forward, but at the same time we have to somewhat look forward. We want to focus on these first three races, but if we nail this and we make it to the next set of races, we have to be ready for them. We can’t be shocked by that and say, ‘Now, what happens?' Ultimately, it is about going out there and enjoying the process. Enjoying how we got here, but at the same point working hard knowing we are in it. We have just as good of a shot as anybody to win the championship. So, let’s put our effort into it and see what we can do.”
Land of the misfits: “This team and I are a good fit,” Allmendinger said. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I was able to fight back. If you look at Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) and Brad (Daugherty) and this team, it started in a barn in 1994 in the Busch Series (NASCAR Nationwide Series). They were just trying to get better to make it to the next year. I think we are made for each other because we are all underdogs. We are all a little bit of misfits that have come together and made something great happen. I love that role. I love being the underdog. The people that see us and say, ‘Oh, that was great, they won Watkins Glen (International) and got into the Chase, but we are not going to have to worry about them.’ I just want to fly under the radar and do our thing. Next thing you know, hopefully people are talking about us even more.”
Chase format: “When it comes down to the new format, you don’t have to be great for 10 races,” Allmendinger said. “You just have to be good enough in each segment. For our race team, it’s all about Chicago (Chicagoland Speedway). I look at that first race. If we can go there and run well that would be huge for us because we have struggled at the mile-and-a-halfs a little bit. If we can put a good effort in and have a great run, that will give us confidence going into Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway), which is a track I’ve always enjoyed. At Dover (International Speedway) earlier this year, we were pretty good and I really love Dover. We’re just taking our three best cars in the shop to those races. The guys are working so hard to get those three cars ready for the start of the Chase. The way I look at it, if we can make it through the first round and into the second round, then we have a real shot at it. You go into Kansas (Speedway) and Charlotte (Motor Speedway) into that second grouping and I look at it like it means we ran pretty well at Chicago. Then we should be good at those races. Then at Talladega (Superspeedway) anything can happen. It is just about not shooting ourselves in the foot and going out there and making sure we do everything right. If we do that, then we have a good shot to make it into the second round. If we do that, then anything is possible.”
Challenging sport with best drivers in the world: “Our season is long,” Allmendinger said. “We have the longest sporting season in the world and the ups and downs and the struggles you go through are tough unless you are Jimmie Johnson it seems like. Now, with this new format, it’s not about going out there thinking, ‘If I can just get the points lead through the last couple of races and survive, I can win a championship.’ Now, it is about every three races starting over and saying, ‘I have got to be great for these three races and move on to the next group.’ When you get to Homestead (Miami Speedway), it’s one race, four drivers for a championship and anything can happen. The first guy that crosses the finish line wins the championship. And, it is not just based on you four. There are 39 other drivers that don’t really care you are going for a championship. I think for all those reasons and all the ups and downs and how long the season is, to me that is why it is the hardest championship to win and we are racing against some of the best drivers in the world. It is not easy, but that is what makes it fun and challenging.”
Who has the best shot: “My theory is six-time (Jimmie Johnson) is six-time for a reason,” Allmendinger said. “That team is really good when the Chase starts and they know how to test stuff throughout the course of the year. So, when those 10 races start they have got all of the best setups and everything they have learned throughout the course of the season. They are always ready to go. Until somebody knocks off six-time, he is the man to beat. I think this year has been some of the most competitive races. Jr. (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) has really came on strong and probably has had the best year of his career honestly. Jeff Gordon is back and he’s winning a bunch of races. The Penske (Racing) cars are really fast. I look at Kevin Harvick and he could have had easily six to eight wins this year without some of the mechanical problems they have had. I still go with Jimmie because he is the man and that team is so good when it comes to Chase time. There are a lot of people that can knock him off. Hopefully, we’re the sleepers. Hopefully, we can go out there and make some noise and make people believers.”
Career Starts: 216
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: 1 - 8/10/2014 Watkins Glen
Driver DOB: 12/16/1981
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Crew Chief: Brian Burns
FUN ON THE RUN:
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FAN OF THE WEEK:
Last week Jennifer Pazo submitted our favorite entry into the #47FanOfTheWeek contest, now we are looking for our next winner.
Who wants to have their photo ride along on AJ Allmendinger’s #47 Kingsford Charcoal car during the 1st Chase race at Chicagoland next week?
Send us your best AJ/#47 stories & photos and show us how much you support AJ and the JTG Daugherty Racing team as we race into the Chase For The Sprint Cup!
The fan submitting our favorite entry will win #47FanOfTheWeek and will have their photo placed on AJ’s #47 Kingsford car for the race at Chicago next weekend.
Enter online at Racing-Rewards.com or visit the @NASCAR47 Twitter page or JTG Daugherty Racing on Facebook for more details.
AJ'S WHEREABOUTS:Saturday, August 6th
4:30 PM House-Autry Dinner w/Guests and Sponsor Meet & Greets