Event: Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400
Date/Time: Sunday, June 5th / 1 PM ET
TV/Radio: FS1 / MRN / SIRIUSXM
Weekend sponsors: "We're looking forward to having BUSH'S Grillin' Beans on our No. 47 Chevy this weekend," Allmendinger said. "They have a variety of robust, delicious flavors to complement any cookout like Bourbon and Brown Sugar or Southern Pit Barbecue and even a Steakhouse Recipe. Stop by your local Kroger and pick some up along with Kingsford Charcoal and get out and grill this weekend."
Pocono Raceway: "When it comes to outright speed, I think Turn 3 is the most critical corner because it leads onto the long front-straightaway," Allmendinger said. "In general, you’ve got to get your car balanced really good in two of the three corners and manage the third. I’ve always felt like if you get two of the corners right, the third one is not as bad. It’s when you only have one right, it seems like you struggle in the other two corners. There is no rhyme or reason. It’s just a tough racetrack to get your car right. You want to get your car as low as possible for the straightaways, but you’ve got to have the right amount of balance. Turn 3 is somewhat long, but Turn 1 and Turn 2 are pretty quick corners. So, there is a fine line making sure it turns, but not being too free through the corner. The race always plays out because the track is so long. You can get lucky and pit right before a yellow comes out or guess when a yellow is about to come out right as you pit and you can be running 20th and the next thing you know you cycle to the lead. Like with any track, clean air is a big deal. So, you can take a car that doesn’t seem that good running 20th and get it out in the lead and have a great race car. It’s just a tough race to plan out for 400 miles."
Unique track: "All the corners are so unique," Allmendinger said. "It seems like you’ve got to get your car turning in Turn 3 really to get the power down to get onto the straightaway, but by doing that sometimes you get the car too free. Or, if you feel like you get your car really balanced right in Turn 3, then Turn 1 and Turn 2 become really tight. It’s a tough place to get your car setup. It’s just like any place we go to, but especially there, track position is so critical. You have got to qualify good. Because the track is so long, the way pit stops work out you can time it to where you get on pit road somehow right before the yellow flag falls and stay on the lead lap that changes your whole race. There’s a lot that goes into that 400-mile race. A lot of things need to fall the right way and you’ve got to get the car balanced pretty well."
Turn 1: “You make the run down on the bottom and you are four and five wide on the bottom and your angle going into Turn 1 is just awful," Allmendinger said. "The good thing is at that point you’ve got 12 or 16 tires on the outside of you to slow you down. If you get pinned on the outside, you’ve got a better angle. The line over the last couple of years keeps widening out more and more, but it’s still dirty up top. It’s not like we are running around the fence. You have got to funnel down and everyone has to play somewhat nice. You get through Turn 1 and everybody’s kind of funneled down a little bit, but you lose your momentum or you’ve got a big run and you come off Turn 1 and you’ve got another long straightaway to try to get crazy going into Turn 2 and the Tunnel corner is the one you really have to kind of funnel back down. That first lap on every restart is pretty critical."
Restarts: “Restarts are tough there for sure," Allmendinger said. "Even if you are on the front row, you are almost kind of a sitting duck. I wouldn’t say there is a good place to be on top or bottom because at some point if you are on top you are going to be five wide on the outside going into Turn 1. If you are on the bottom, at least you are under everybody, but you have got a bad angle. Then you get through Turn 1 and if you get some speed scrubbed down, you come off of Turn 1 going into Turn 2 and that straightaway is almost as long. On the restarts, you can make up a lot of spots or you can lose a lot of spots. No matter if you have a great car or not, if you get the restarts right, get aggressive and get a little bit fortunate, you can make a lot happen."
Balancing act: “It’s just like every track,” Allmendinger said. “If you get your car right, it’s a fun place. If you get your car wrong, it’s a tough place. It’s definitely a place that the tagline 'Tricky Triangle' is not a lie. It’s three tough corners. Most of the time, you are not right in all three corners so you’ve got to be really good in two of the three and okay in the other.”
Skillful luck: "To have a good day at Pocono, some of it is skill and some of it is luck," Allmendinger said. "Usually, you get a late race caution that makes the restarts really crazy. It’s just a tough race overall. There’s so much that goes into it - - strategy, even if you have a good car and we just talked about the restarts. It’s a tough race to get figure out and have a solid day.”
Remembering first Pocono visit: “I remember my very first test there with Red Bull Racing,” Allmendinger said. “They told me, ‘Hey, you’re going to be really good here because it’s like a road course. I ran three laps and came back in and I said whoever said this is like a road course was lying.' It is not a road course. It is a track that’s a triangle with three different corners. A road course is something you turn left and right on and I’ve only turned left there."
Hard at work: “Pocono is a pretty unique place,” crew chief Randall Burnett said. “It takes a little different setup to go there. So, we’ve been working hard on it. We didn’t get to go test, but the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) bunch did get to. We will look at their notes and go from that, which will help. We are looking forward to it because we’ve been working on our intermediate, big track program. We seem to be gaining on it. We will try to build on it this weekend.”
Strategy: “AJ had a good run there last year,” Burnett said. “Fuel mileage came into play. You can pit there without going a lap down. You always try to hit your windows just right there so you can end up with track position. It’s definitely a strategy race. AJ’s pretty good at shifting and braking, which always comes into play there as well.”
Maintain: “We just need to keep going out, not make any mistakes, have solid weekends and we can be in the Chase conversation, based on points," Allmendinger said. "Granted it would be a lot easier to go win a race and know that you’re in. I would take more satisfaction in knowing we could make it on points. Two years ago we won a race to make the Chase, but we were a 22nd, 23rd place team. We had some strong runs and had a chance to finish top 10 in the points. We weren’t a top 15 team at the time. This year I think we are. We just have to keep getting better.”
Summer time: “These summer months get tough where you go to Pocono (Raceway), Michigan (International Speedway), back to Daytona, back to Michigan and back to Pocono," Allmendinger said. "If you are weak in those areas, it’s going to show up and it makes the summer months hard and that’s happened the last two years. We are going to try to make sure that doesn’t happen this year.”
Testing: “We have a lot of testing coming up," Allmendinger said. "We have a test at Kentucky (Speedway), Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and Watkins Glen (International). Testing is when you actually get to go and try stuff that you wouldn’t be able to do on a typical race weekend. We can actually go and learn some things. Testing can be fun sometimes, but it can be a little tedious if you are out there and running three laps at a time and then have to get out of the car and go sit for an hour and then run three laps at a time. It’s a necessity and we would love to do more to keep getting better.”
Career Starts: 276
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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Sunday, June 5th
JTG Daugherty Racing Meet & Greets