Track: Chicagoland Speedway
Event: MyAFibStory.com 400
Race Date / Time: Sunday, September 14 / 2 PM ET
TV / Radio: ESPN / MRN / SiriusXM
Keeping it real: “For our race team entering the Chase, it’s the first race at Chicagoland Speedway that's pretty important,” Allmendinger said. “We’ve got to go out there and run well in the Challenger Round with our No. 47 Kingsford® Chevrolet SS. We have always struggled a little bit at the mile-and-a-half tracks. We’re trying to get better. If we go to Chicago and have a great race, that gives us momentum that we can take into Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway), which is a track I have always enjoyed. Then next up is Dover (International Speedway) and it’s another track I enjoy racing. I think it is different for everybody, but really I think it comes down to Chicago. If you start off bad, you’ve only got two races to make it up. The only way to make it up is to either win or have two great races just to make it into the next round. I think Chicago sets the tone for everybody in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.”
Bring on Chicagoland Speedway: “We gave our guys the opportunity and asked where do you want to go test to get ready for Chicago and they all wanted to go to Charlotte (Motor Speedway),” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. “Chicago is a track that changes so much throughout the day and even more so than Charlotte. Charlotte is hard to get a handle on, hard to get a grip on as you go throughout the evening. Chicago is an odd track. Every 25 to 30 laps that track starts giving up and starts changing. You get tight throughout most of your run, then all of the sudden you are really loose. It’s weird. That’s a crew chief racetrack and a decision making opportunity.”
Chase focused: “It has been a bit of a struggle recently, but we almost expected it because we are focusing so much on the first round of the Chase and getting our cars ready," crew chief Brian Burns said. "We are taking the best ones for that. Going to the Charlotte test last week was nice for us because we made some big gains. We are bringing a new car to Chicagoland Speedway. It is going to resolve a lot of the problems that we have been fighting this year at some of these older tracks. With help from the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) group, they have gone out of their way to get us this car in time for Chicago.”
Starting over: “To be in the Chase, I think it is big,” Burns said. “It’s like going into Chicagoland Speedway is a start of a brand new season essentially. So, you can break that down into a bunch of little seasons for each round of the Chase. It is three races to get it done each time. If you have bad results on the first round, it’s going to be really tough to get through to the next Chase round.”
A fan of the Chase: “I think the new format is great,” Burns said. “It’s good for teams like ours. Three races at a time and anything can happen. Maybe some of the favorites have a bad day, you never know. If we are consistent and get the best out of the first three races, we should be able to make it to the next round.”
Stepping up: “Everyone has stepped up their game and is taking the Chase very seriously,” Burns said. “We feel like it is a good time for our team. Although, we didn’t have a great finish last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway or at Richmond International Raceway this past weekend, the morale we have will be good for the start of the Chase.”
Founding JTG Daugherty Racing: “My dream was to build an organization where people value and achieve personal goals,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. “We built something together as a team. That’s what excites me - - people that realize they can achieve their goals if they put their mind to it. For me, making the Chase this year is not the end all be all. I expect us to succeed if we do the right things. Did I expect us to win a race this year? Yeah, I did. That puts us in the Chase. Now, do I expect us to go and continue to improve in the Chase and understand where we stand in the pecking order of the elite teams? Yep. We will learn and keep building. That’s what I really believe. I can keep saying it is a lot of fun to be in the Chase. I’m very excited we have achieved some of our goals this year and provided value to our sponsors. We have got a good group of folks who put in a lot of effort into this program and it’s good to see them rewarded for their efforts and to me that’s what it is about. I want them to be proud of where they work and what they have accomplished. I have had a couple guys say, ‘Hey man, I wear my shirt to lunch and people stop me to talk to me.’ That’s cool to me.”
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. 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 consistent 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.”
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.”
AJ Allmendinger's best finish at Chicagoland Speedway is 13th (7/11/09 and 7/12/08) in five starts. His average start is 20.600 and his average finish is 17.600. He is currently 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings going into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup - Challenger Round.
Career Starts: 217
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
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FAN OF THE WEEK:
Last week David Briski 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 second Chase race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next week?
Send us your best AJ/#47 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 New Hampshire next weekend.
Submit a photo showing your support of AJ and the #47 team to the @NASCAR47 Twitter page or JTG Daugherty Racing on Facebook and include the #DINGERNATION and #MYCHASENATION hashtags.
AJ'S WHEREABOUTS:Saturday, September 13th
5 to 6 PM Jewel-Osco Autograph Session for fans
Address: 199 Brook Forest Avenue, Shorewood, IL
Sunday, September 13th
9:55 to 10:10 AM Sprint Experience Q&A
Chicagoland Speedway Midway