Track: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Event: Sylvania 300
Race Date / Time: Sunday, September 21st / 2 PM ET
TV / Radio: ESPN / PRN Radio / SiriusXM
New Hampshire Motor Speedway: “Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway) is a track that has changed over the years," Allmendinger said. "At first I didn't like it and then I liked it and now I’m hoping to be a fan again after the race on Sunday. It is a fun track for a driver because it is flat and it makes you have to really work on just getting the setup right. You want to have your car stable on entry and still turn, which is tough to do. You can move around and drive the car a little more to figure out how to manipulate it. Another thing that is crucial there is track position. It is just a big factor and if you get stuck in the middle of the pack, there’s not a whole lot you can do."
Strategy: “We have a better strategy than we had the first time this year at Loudon," crew chief Brian Burns said. "We look at these first three races of the Chase as a new season. It’s a three race go at getting the best out of every weekend you can. A small team like ours, you are racing 15 other cars and you are trying not to be in the bottom four. It’s a different strategy and your plan may change during the course of the race based on where those other Chase cars are. As always at Loudon, track position will be critical. We will do everything we can to have a good qualifying effort. It will make the day a little easier. Looking through our notes and with the help of RCR’s (Richard Childress Racing) notes, we have a good unloading setup."
Advancing: “I think it is more about not putting a lot of pressure on it,” Allmendinger said. “To me it would be a big step for our team to make it to the Contender Round. And, no one has picked us to move forward. We have to pass guys like Ryan (Newman), Carl (Edwards), Kasey (Kahne) and maybe Matt (Kenseth). We are not racing against guys we are able to beat easily. If we are able to run better and transfer, it is more about pride than anything. I believe in my heart if we can run better, we can do that. We haven’t done it in the last couple weeks.”
Learning: “As a driver I’m learning to see a pattern over the last six weeks of what our car does and now I have a different idea of what I need to run faster,” Allmendinger said. “We’re not giving up and we can make it into the Contender Round if we do everything right.”
Tall order: “I had a great week going through all the Chase media stuff recently,” Allmendinger said. “Really for me, it’s cool to just be associated with the best in the business with guys like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and on down the line - - just to have my name and my poster sitting up with theirs is pretty special. We know we’ve got a tall order on hand to go out and try to beat these big teams, but we are going to have a lot of fun doing it and enjoy the process.”
First Chase race recap: “Man, Chicago (Chicagoland Speedway) was just rough and there was nothing really good about it, but at the same point we’ve said all along we’ve got to maximize those kind of days,” Allmendinger said. “And, we did. Even though we didn’t have a good finish, we were the highest finishing car on our lap and we beat (Greg) Biffle. We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We know we have got to run better whether we make it into the next group (Contender Round) of the Chase or not. We have two good tracks coming up (New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway) that I like and the guys at the shop are working really hard.”
Making up: “We really struggled trying to get our car to turn at Chicagoland Speedway,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. “We dabbled with some things. I even made some suggestions just trying to figure out a way to get our front suspension to agree with the driver. I thought we had a top-15 race car and we ended up finishing 22nd. We’re not out of it. We’re not done. We didn’t 100 percent shoot ourselves in the foot. We go to Loudon where it’s so tough to get a handle on the track. It gives us an opportunity because AJ does such a good job where the driver has to make up for some of the lack of handling. We are going to Loudon with a harder tire. It seems like the tires that we have had recently have been a little harder on the right side. It throws a monkey wrench into the game. You really have to understand when you start adjusting on that car - when that driver is screaming that he wants it looser - you can adjust so far away from the basic setup. At Richmond (International Raceway) for example, we had went through three adjustments and we finally went back to our basic setup and the teams up front had not really messed with their cars. We were running the same speed in 25th as the guy running fourth. We gave up all those spots monkeying around, which you are not going to get back. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Brian Burns and AJ. I feel like we should have won three races this season. It was a good season to have a few of those opportunities. We still overall didn’t get the points I wanted to garner. This will be a good weekend to make up some of those numbers that we lost last weekend.”
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 these first three races. 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 in the Challenger round. 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.”
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.”
Racing-Rewards.com: “Hey fans, if you haven’t gone to Racing-Rewards.com and signed up, go do it right now,” Allmendinger said. “We have all kinds of prizes, all kinds of stuff. I just finished signing a bunch of hats and shirts for you to win, if you aren't a member then you are missing out. Go sign up.”
AJ Allmendinger has 11 starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and one top-10 finish. His best finish at the track is 10th-place (6/27/10). His average start is 23.4 and his average finish is 24.2.
- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.4
- One win, two top fives, four top 10s
- Average finish of 20.9
- Led 5 races for 68 laps
New Hampshire Motor Speedway Outlook:
- One top 10
- Average finish of 24.2 in 11 races
- Average Running Position of 23.6, 28th-best
- Driver Rating of 63.8, 28th-best
Career Starts: 218
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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Last week Mitch Miller submitted our favorite entry into the #47FanOfTheWeek contest and will have his photo featured on AJ Allmendinger's Bush's Beans car at New Hampshire this weekend.
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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!
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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.