Race: Cheez-It 355
Date/Time: Sunday, August 9th / 2 PM ET
TV/Radio: NBCSN / MRN RADIO / SIRIUSXM
Attack the track: “You can really attack the racetrack Turn 1 up through the Esses into the bus stop and it’s a real high speed place where you can be more aggressive and find lap time, whereas, Sonoma Raceway is a place where if you get more aggressive, you can easily burn the tires off and lose lap time," Allmendinger said. "I've always enjoyed Watkins Glen International for that reason. Watkins Glen is a fine line when it comes to car setup. You’ve got to get the car turning.”
On the line: “We all know at JTG Daugherty Racing that going into Watkins Glen if we go do our job, we are going to have a great chance to win this race,” Allmendinger said. “Just like Sonoma, we qualified on the pole and we were battling for the lead up until when we had a mechanical problem. We don’t need to over focus on it and put that added pressure on us. I know I believe in myself and that’s what I have always loved about road course racing, is that the driver can make a difference. You still need a great car, but a driver can make more of a difference by braking a little later, driving it in just a little bit more, getting a little bit more out of the car and I pride myself on that. When it comes time to do it, if we go do our job, we know we have a shot to win. And, if it’s meant to be and we go win, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. If not, it’s all we can do. We will go do our best.”
Kroger and BUSH'S Beans: "We're bringing the heat with Kroger and BUSH'S Beans on the hood this weekend," Allmendinger said. "The big news for BUSH'S this week is that they are introducing their new Sweet Heat and Brown Sugar Hickory. So, stop by your local Kroger store and pick up some BUSH'S Beans. Hopefully, we have a good Sunday and sell some cases on Monday."
Reminiscing: “Those last 30 laps, as soon as I took the lead, I was like you can do this on top of thinking about fuel saving, watching the distance every lap and challenging myself,” Allmendinger said. “You get in that zone and it’s like tunnel vision and then you come to the checkered flag and it’s over and you are like ‘How in the world did I do that?’ To win my first race against someone like Marcos (Ambrose), who is one of the best road course racers in the world, is pretty amazing.”
Race winning feeling: “Winning a race, no one can take that away from you,” Allmendinger said. “You feel like you are king of the world for one day. At that moment, you are the best there is. I just remember on that day it was the best I had ever driven in my life. On that day, I had to man up and say, 'I’m not letting this race get taken away from me.' It’s something that no matter whether if I win again or not, it's memories that I will always have.”
Goosebumps: “I still get chills every time I watch the Watkins Glen race,” Allmendinger said. “I’d be lying if I said I don’t question myself all the time. So, when I go back and watch it, it still gives me chills watching going up through the Esses and beating and banging. In the moment, you don’t realize what is going on and then you watch and see the steering wheel bouncing back and forth. That stuff right there gives me chills. It’s hard to explain. I care so much and I’m so passionate about being my best and I question myself every single day. 'Can I get better? When it is time to step up in those moments, can I do it?' At least, on that day, I did.”
All it takes is one: “We have our ups and downs,” Allmendinger said. “Over the past little bit we have been down, but the great thing about this process is that all it takes is one. We go win at Watkins Glen International or we go win at Michigan (International Speedway) or Bristol (Motor Speedway) and before you know it, you are back in it (The Chase). We know where we are at right now. We know we are not happy running 20th or 25th. So, we know we have to get better.”
Under pressure: “I always feel pressure and I am always going to put that pressure on myself to try to carry this team,” Allmendinger said. “Sometimes it comes out in good ways and sometimes it comes out in bad ways, but nobody will ever question my passion.”
Give it all you got: “We’re doing our best and are trying to get better,” Allmendinger said. “To go out there, whether it’s battling for 25th or battling for the win, we are trying to get everything we can. This season has definitely not gone the way we’ve wanted it to go. It started off great and after five races we were top five in points and then we had some motor problems happen and a few incidents where we would be running in the top 10 and have an accident like we did at Bristol and so forth.”
Silver lining: “Tad (Geschickter, team owner) is such a positive influence and sometimes he is over positive,” Allmendinger said. “We will be struggling and he will come in and say ‘We got this’ and I’m like ‘How do we have this right now?’ He always has plans and he’s always trying to make it better. He is the hardest working guy I have ever met in my life and I trust him. I love driving for him, Jodi (Geschickter, team owner) and Brad (Daugherty, team owner)."
Make The Chase: “I still believe it every day that we have a great shot to win a race and make The Chase and if I didn’t believe it, then I shouldn’t be in a race car,” Allmendinger said. “From there, it’s all about being better. Are we a championship winning team right now? Probably not, but all you have got to do is look at what Ryan Newman showed last year. All you got to do is get into The Chase and you’ve got a shot.”
Keep a lid on it: “I’m not going to lie, it is a stressful weekend for us because we all have the same expectations,” Burns said. “We try not to talk about it and try to block it out so we can stay as calm as we can. We try to keep each other on an even level. We know that if we don’t make mistakes and do the simple things right and have the absence of bad luck, we can win.”
The Car: “We’re running the car we raced at Sonoma (Raceway) this year and won at Watkins Glen last year,” Burns said. “We have a twin brand new car to that one, but decided to take the same car.”
Who to beat: “Five cars come to mind when I think of Watkins Glen and that’s the 47, 41 (Kurt Busch), 4 (Kevin Harvick), 24 (Jeff Gordon), and 18 (Kyle Busch),” Burns said.
First win as crew chief: “Winning Watkins Glen didn’t hit me immediately,” Burns said. “I noticed everyone going crazy and celebrating when AJ crossed the finish line and I just kind of stayed back and watched. I enjoyed the moment watching everyone instead of jumping in the middle of it. It was a surreal moment. That night after the race, the team came to my house and we had a victory celebration. I remember just looking around the room at a small group like ours and realizing what we had accomplished. It was pretty surreal.”
Those last few laps: ”I guess when you are running up front like that you are waiting on something to happen out of your control whether it’s something with the car, a wreck, a caution, whatever," Burns said. "We knew if nothing like that happened, we were going to win. It was so tense hoping that nothing out of our control happened. We were all holding our breath.”
Proud moment: “I was proud to see my guys working together and getting something pretty special accomplished - - to win our first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race together,” JTG Daugherty Racing team owner Tad Geschickter said.
Sense of pride: “You have 40 people throughout the entire team including marketing and people answering the phones,” pit coach/jackman/parts manager Michael Klein said. “So, the amount of effort just on details that it took for everyone to pull the rope in the same direction, to be able to capitalize, made it a lot more worthwhile than winning with the big teams. The biggest thing is the sense of pride. I’ve been here since JTG Daugherty Racing started Cup racing at the end of 2008. To be able to build the team up and be able to accomplish our goal is a huge accomplishment. Everyone that works here has a huge sense of ownership in this company. You have to punch above your weight to be able to do what we do.”
Career Starts: 248
Pole Awards: 3
First Start: 3/25/2007 Bristol
First Pole: 4/10/2010 Phoenix
Last Pole: 6/27/2015 Sonoma
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
Introducing new Sweet Heat and new Brown Sugar Hickory, available now at a store near you!
SWEET HEAT- Introducing our newest flavor, made with red beans, brown sugar and serrano peppers. It's part sweet with just the right amount of heat. But hurry, new Sweet Heat is available for a limited time only. CLICK HERE for more details and recipes.
BROWN SUGAR HICKORY- New Brown Sugar Hickory balances just the right amount of sweetness with slow-cooked hickory flavor. CLICK HERE for more details and recipes.
Each week throughout the NASCAR season Racing-Rewards members are given the opportunity to download exclusive AJ Allmendinger cellphone wallpaper. This week's design features AJ and his BUSH'S Beans car.
Click HERE to visit the download page.
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Friday, August 7th
9:45 AM NASCAR Media Availability at Watkins Glen International Media Center
Sunday, August 9th
JTG Daugherty Racing sponsor meet and greets