RACE: STP 500
DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 3 / 1 PM ET
Martinsville Speedway: “The last couple of years at Martinsville Speedway, it’s really been about saving your rear tires,” Allmendinger said. “That’s something that is such a fine line. You have got to have your car turning. You can’t be too tight. If you are too tight, you start using more throttle and it burns off the rear tires even more."
Big week for team: “It’s been a big week for JTG Daugherty Racing,” Allmendinger said. “We have a couple major Nestlé brands on our No. 47 Chevrolet SS with Butterfinger and Coffee-mate sharing the hood with Kroger. Also, today we announced an expanded partnership with Southeastern Mills with the addition of The Original Louisiana Hot Sauce. It's awesome to see our family of brands keep growing with the team. We're looking forward to putting on a good show for our partners on Sunday.”
Making job easier: "Last year at Martinsville, we had good cars," Allmendinger said. "The fall race is where I thought we struggled some though. We would be good for 40 laps and, all of the sudden, it was like a light switch. Once the rear tires start to go, there is nothing you can do to save it. You just have to kind of ride it out. So, you try to get good forward drive off and still keep the car turning. The longer you can save the rear tires - especially that 40, 50, 60 laps into the run - the easier it makes the job to go out there and pass cars.”
Get into a rhythm: “It’s all about timing,” Allmendinger said. “It’s rhythm. You get into a rhythm in practice by yourself and yeah you are by cars, but for the most part you are still always kind of turning laps by yourself. Then you get on the track with 39 other cars and it just breaks the rhythm up. You’ve got to lift early. You try to roll the corner and maybe they park it more in the center than you want to. It’s just all rhythm. It’s a place that you’ve got to be aggressive, but you’ve got to be a little cautious as well. You can’t be banging fenders with someone early in the race and get tempers flaring. You can’t get out of your rhythm.”
Rubbing is racing: “It’s just close quarters racing,” Allmendinger said. “The longer the race goes, you see drivers beating and banging on each other. As a driver there’s not a lot more you can do to make a difference with your car, but there are little things that you can do. Like I’ve said before, it’s a fun timing rhythm track.”
The clock: “Martinsville is a prestigious race,” Allmendinger said. “It’s one of those places where you say the Grandfather Clock and everybody knows exactly what you are talking about. It’s pretty cool to try to win a race there. I’ve been fortunate to have some good runs there. I’ve finished second there, but it would be pretty special to get a win.”
Back to the roots: "I'm really looking forward to Martinsville Speedway because it is one of my favorite places to go on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule," crew chief Randall Burnett said. "AJ's history is pretty good at Martinsville and he has a runner-up finish there. It's just nice to do some short track racing and kind of get back to our roots."
Start of the season: “I think it’s been pretty good,” Allmendinger said. “Randall, as a brand new crew chief, has been doing a great job. We are fortunate and also we were able to have Ernie Cope come over and join us as our competition director. It’s nice to see our whole team gelling. We’ve unloaded and had fast cars. I’ve really seen progress compared to last year. We went to Atlanta (Motor Speedway) and we unloaded P3. We went to Vegas (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) and made it to the final round in qualifying and had a solid top-15 run. You look at a place like Phoenix (International Raceway) where we really struggled all weekend and we were able to salvage a 17th-place finish and then we put together a whole weekend and finished eighth at Auto Club Speedway. It’s a lot more progress than last year."
As the year goes on: "I like what we are doing," Allmendinger said. "We really truly feel like we are going to get better as the year goes on. We are getting caught up and figuring what we need to keep working on. As the season goes on, Randall will get more experience as crew chief and we will get more experience working together, but so far so good. I feel like we haven’t put ourselves in a deep hole and we are kind of right there and getting better with every race.”
Strengths: “I really believe one of our strengths is making the car better throughout the race and that credit goes to Randall,” Allmendinger said. “It’s been good whether we had a good car at the start and fine-tuned it or we were way off at the beginning of the race and got better. I feel like at the end of each race, we’ve been at our best and that’s all you can ask for. That’s the way these Sprint Cup races go. As long as you can keep yourself in it by staying on the lead lap with 50 to go, you still have a shot at a great finish. You just never know with the way these races play out. That to me is where our bright spot has been. As the race progresses, we get better and we keep ourselves in good shape to have a respectable finish at the end of the race.”
Improvements: “I don’t think there is one area,” Allmendinger said. “I think there are a lot of little areas. That to me is a lot better than where we were last year. I feel like there were big areas we had to improve on and we have. We’ve just got to keep making the cars better and keep pushing the limit to try to go out there to get everything we can get. We just need to keep working on the little things because we are not way off. We are in that 13th to 17th tier right now and that’s where we should be and it’s all about fine tuning from there to go race with these big race teams. I’m really encouraged about how the start of the year has been and what the future looks like for our race team.”
Back into the swing of things: “The off week was all about golf, golf and more golf,” Allmendinger said. “It was nice to have some time off especially for the crew guys after the West Coast swing. For a team like ours that’s not as big, it was great for everybody to be able to take a breath and relax. It also gave us some time to reflect to see the good and bad about the first five races. For me, more than anything, it gave me a chance to relax, hand out with friends and play a lot of golf.”
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Career Starts: 268
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