RACE: Kobalt 400
DATE/TIME: Sunday, March 6th / 3:30 PM ET
AJ ALLMENDINGER QUOTES:
Vegas: "You would think with the desert and the beating the track takes throughout the course of the summer that it would make a bigger difference, but the place still has a lot of grip in it," Allmendinger said. "I’d say the only thing that changes a lot is Turns 1 and 2. It gets a little bumpier every year through the middle. You’ve got to kind of work around that. Turns 3 and 4 don’t change a lot. The only thing is that if it gets really hot there, it does get slick. Last year, I think it was high 60s, low 70s and it really had great grip throughout the course of the weekend."
Getting over the bumps: "If you can get the No. 47 Smith's/Kingsford Chevrolet SS working over the bumps in Turns 1 and 2, then you will be good in Turns 3 and 4 no matter what," Allmendinger said. "I feel like if you get through there okay then you can make up some time. Also, just staying on top of the conditions going into Sunday is important. If it’s going to be a little bit warmer than we’ve experienced over the weekend, it can get real slick in a hurry. So, you just try to stay on top of that so you can make the right decisions going into race day."
Mile-and-a-half: “I think we can take a little from what we learned at Atlanta Motor Speedway and apply a little bit to Vegas (Las Vegas Motor Speedway),” Allmendinger said. “If you get a good package and you feel like the car is turning well and it has good overall speed and has good downforce, it’s going to work at Vegas. Now, maybe setup-wise Atlanta is not as close as a Vegas. I always look at Texas (Motor Speedway) and Atlanta as probably being a little bit closer because they are so slick. I might compare a Vegas to maybe a Charlotte (Motor Speedway) because it has a little more grip to it.”
West Coast Swing: “I think the West Coast swing is good for our schedule because in the past we would either make one trip out to the West Coast and then we would have one race back in Tennessee or back in Atlanta in the Southern Region and then we would have to go back out to Fontana, Calif. (Auto Club Speedway),” Allmendinger said. “I think the way it is now, it is a lot better for the fans and for the sport to promote a West Coast swing with the three races. If fans in the general area can’t go to Vegas maybe they can go to Fontana, Phoenix (International Raceway) or vice versa. Overall, it’s better. We don’t have a lot of guys back at the shop. So, some guys go back one week and some go back the next week. It makes it a little better for the whole industry.”
Staying out: "I enjoy staying out West between Vegas and Phoenix (International Raceway)," Allmendinger said. "For me, it’s just playing a lot of golf. With the winters we've had in Charlotte, it’s been cold and the courses are damp. I’ll go play on a desert course where the ball rolls a lot and it makes you feel like you’re Bubba Watson out there when you drive the ball, it actually rolls out. After the race, for whatever team guys stay out, I’ll just have some fun with them. They are working their tails off throughout the course of the week. I really appreciate them."
Getting a grasp: “We definitely learned a great deal about the new aero package at Atlanta and things that will carry over setup-wise to Vegas,” crew chief Randall Burnett said. “We have some different things we will try at Vegas, but Atlanta was good for us to get a grasp on what AJ needs for intermediate tracks.”
Testing: “The test session on Thursday is extremely important for us because it is the only time we will get to test anything until June at Kentucky Speedway because we don’t have any upcoming tire tests,” Burnett said. “It is important for us to hit on some big ticket items that we have questions and ideas about to get a direction for going forward. Thursday will be really good for us.”
Communication: “We obviously didn’t get the finish we wanted at Atlanta, but it was good for all of us because it was a long race with lots of green flag runs and AJ and I were able to communicate a lot and work with our spotter (Coleman Pressley) on making pit stops,” Burnett said. “It was good for us to get the feel for what a typical race weekend will be like. Daytona was its own animal, but it was nice to finally get to really work on the cars and communicate on the radio with AJ and everyone.”
Staying fresh: “The biggest thing about the West Coast swing is keeping our team fresh,” Burnett said. “Half of them will stay out between Vegas and Phoenix to turnaround the Phoenix car and clean everything back up. They will go through the tool boxes and also make sure the Phoenix car is fully prepped. Then that group will come home and the other half will rotate in and do the same in between Phoenix and Fontana. We just want to keep them fresh and make sure they get home to see their families.”
Logistics: “For the West Coast, we have Vegas up first,” transport driver Andy Gillis said. “On Monday morning after the Vegas race, we will swap out cars, parts, engines at a hotel not far from the track to get ready for the Phoenix race. Then on Thursday morning we’ll drive over to Phoenix for the race weekend. After Phoenix we will switch out the truck and then drive on to Fontana, Calif. (Auto Club Speedway) Wednesday. We have a third party truck coming with everything we need from Harrisburg (N.C.) out to Vegas and then again out to Phoenix. After California we head back and we have an off weekend. I will stay out West the whole time. I’ll be doing grocery shopping to restock the truck and making sure the firesuits are all cleaned for the driver and the crew. The weather is nice out there and it’s not too bad other than you don’t come home for three weeks straight. I think the biggest challenge is taking care of your shopping and dry cleaning. Usually, you have a company come to the shop and pick it up and you don’t have to worry about it really.”
Trying to pinpoint Atlanta: “At Atlanta, we had steering issues late in the race and we have been working hard to take the car apart and investigate to identify the problem. We’ve got some ideas already, but we are still working on a final conclusion.”
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Career Starts: 265
Pole Awards: 4
First Start: 3/25/2007 Bristol
First Pole: 4/10/2010 Phoenix
Last Pole: 8/8/15 Watkins Glen
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: Randall Burnett
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Thursday, March 3rd
4:30 to 5:30 PM Smith's
Address: 2255 E. Centennial Parkway, North Las Vegas
7 to 8 PM Double Barrel Roadhouse
Monte Carlo Resort & Casino
Address: 3770 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV