Track: Daytona International Speedway
Sprint Unlimited: Saturday, February 14th at 8 PM ET on FOX/MRN/SIRIUSXM
Daytona 500 Qualifying Presented by Kroger: Sunday, February 15th at 1 PM on FOX/MRN/SIRIUSXM
Budweiser Duel: Thursday, February 19th at 7 PM ET on FOX Sports 1/MRN/SIRIUSXM
Daytona 500: Sunday, February 22nd at 1 PM ET on FOX/ MRN/SIRIUSXM
First Daytona Experience: "I mean really my first experience was not cool," AJ Allmendinger said. "That was in 2007, which was really the first time I was there for the Daytona 500. I think it was 65 cars trying to make the show. It was the first time I was there in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. It was a brand new team and a brand new manufacturer. I definitely felt like a fish out of water, a fish in sand maybe and a fish getting cooked on the grill by the end of it. It was tough. I didn’t make the race and that was hard. I think being on pit road even though I wasn’t racing and watching all the pre-race ceremonies and all that just blew me away. I had never seen something like that. I had to wait another year and missed it in 2008. However, finally I was able to be a part of it all in 2009 and it was really special to me. I always remember being on pit road and hearing all the drivers being introduced and just the crowd in the infield and in the grandstands. I knew I was at a special race."
Wait and see: “Our base group has stayed the same and we're a family,” Allmendinger said. “We've won a race together now. It just gives us confidence going into this season to want to win more and I think we can. It's just going to take a lot of work. We've gotten better in the off season. We'll see once we unload at Daytona and at Atlanta (Motor Speedway). I feel good about what we've done."
Optimism: “I’m optimistic about where we are at as a team,” Allmendinger said. “Our cars look nice and the key thing is being ahead. Last year going into Daytona, we barely had a second car ready to go to Phoenix (International Raceway). We were behind all year. Again, I’m just optimistic about where we are as a team - - where Brian (Burns) has got to and the atmosphere in the shop. Everyone seems happy to start the season. We all know it will be a grind, but I’m really proud of the effort and all that. I’ve got a lot of excitement built up and nerves. I want to be at my best and continually get better. It’s a good kind of nerves and nervousness.”
Confidence raised: "I expected us to run better than we did last year, to be honest with you -- but I expected that the year before," JTG Daugherty Racing team owner Brad Daugherty said. "So for me going into this season, I think it raised the confidence of our team, which is important, because guys worked their rear ends off. We know going out that door we've got everything we need to go and be competitive, so the vibe in our race shop is much different than it's been -- even last year. It was excitement last year, but this year there's confidence and there's the fact of these guys knowing they're bolting together a race car that can go be competitive and on any given day and weekend we can ring the bell."
In a good place: “I think speaking to Tad (Geschickter) we are in good place as a racing organization,” Allmendinger said. “Good things are happening. I believe if we do the right things, people will take notice.”
Our Super Bowl: “The Daytona 500 is our Super Bowl,” JTG Daugherty Racing team owner Tad Geschickter said. “As a driver, if you win that race, you are forever announced as a Daytona 500 champion. It’s such a prestigious event. Winning that race carries a lot of clout.”
All about family: “Kroger has been a loyal partner of ours and this is the seventh year running the Kroger car in the Daytona 500,” Geschickter said. “When you work together with partners for that long, they become family.”
Better-suited team: “We have a whole year under our belts working with RCR (Richard Childress Racing),” Geschickter said. “Now, better-suited, we haven’t had turnover and we have great people in place. We have sponsors giving money to do it properly. We will be able to improve upon 2014.”
Top of list: “I know AJ was asked recently what would be at the top of his list and he said winning the Daytona 500,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “Everybody agrees that is the biggest place you can win. It’s such a prestigious race.”
One word: “If I had to summarize in one word what our big focus is this season, it is consistency,” Burns said. “We need to survive Daytona with a solid finish. Daytona is a place at a flip of a coin you can be in or out of the race.”
Daytona Plans: “Going into Daytona, we will probably have minimal track time leading up to the race,” Burns said. “You’ll probably see us doing one short drafting run and maybe one or two single car runs. Our hope is to keep the car clean and in the absolute best shape we can during practices.”
Chemistry: “We have the majority of our core group intact,” Burns said. “It’s a positive because we all got along well last year and we had good chemistry. We’ll keep building on that.”
Sitting out Sprint Unlimited: "In mid-December NASCAR changed the rules regarding Sprint Unlimited eligibility," Geschickter said. "We were not qualified for that race until NASCAR's decision to expand the field stating all 16 drivers who qualified for the Chase were eligible. We had already budgeted for our 36 points paying races. There was not ample time for us to secure additional sponsorship and prepare for the race without compromising our Daytona 500 preparation."
Calling Sprint Unlimited race from MRN Booth: “Sure, I would like to be out there because it would be fun to get out there and get a race under our belt before the Duels, but we also have got to be smart about where we are at as a race team,” Allmendinger said. “We were added to the Sprint Unlimited late and I agreed with Tad about not running. Since I’m not in the Sprint Unlimited, MRN Radio asked if I could commentate the race from the booth. To have them ask me to be a part of their broadcast really means a lot to me. They do such a great job of telling the race for people that can’t see it. It’s beneficial to be able to see the race from a different point of view. It will help me going into Duels. I can use this as a tool to study and learn some things.”
Enjoying his NASCAR Race Hub role at FOX Sports 1: “I had such a good time last year,” Allmendinger said. “It’s cool that they asked me back. It means a lot for them to believe in me and it’s a pretty big deal for me to have the chance to be on the show with key people in our sport. I’m able to be a part of the show, share insights and learn things that took place throughout the course of the weekend. I’m just really trying to enjoy everything this year. I always go into anything putting a lot of pressure on myself whether it is commentating, racing or whatever it may be. It’s important not to lose focus. I’m pretty lucky to be able to do it.”
Career Starts: 227
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
Kroger - USO Partnership:
Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers, employs more than 375,000 associates who serve customers in 2,631 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.
“Honoring Our Heroes, Kroger’s partnership with the USO, will continue in 2015. The Kroger Co. Family of Stores has donated $11.8 million to the USO since 2010 to help the USO carry out its mission - to lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families around the world. For nearly 75 years, the USO has been the only organization that serves the U.S. military throughout their service, from the moment they join, through their deployments and as they transition back to their communities.”
For more information about Kroger, please visit www.kroger.com.
To learn how you can help the USO please visit HonoringOurHeroes.com.
Thursday, February 12th
8 AM to 2 PM NASCAR Media Day
Saturday, February 14th
6:05 PM FOX Sports 1 Race Day Two-Way Interview at coach
7:30 PM to 10:30 PM MRN Booth commentating Sprint Unlimited
Sunday, February 15th
11:45 PM to 12 PM Sneaking out to the Chevrolet Display to check out the Colorado
Wednesday, February 18th
11 AM to 12 PM Participating in Daytona International Speedway Fan Event
7 PM Guest on MRN Radio at Ocean Deck
Thursday, February 19th
11 AM to 11:15 AM PrimeSport Daytona 500 Club Appearance
Friday, February 20th
5 to 5:15 PM FOX Beach Bash at the Band Shell behind Hilton Oceanwalk Hotel
Sunday, February 22nd
9 to 9:25 AM Kroger Breakfast
9:40 to 10 AM PrimeSport Pit Row Patio Meet & Greets
10:30 AM JTG Daugherty Racing Sponsor Meet & Greets