Mile-and-a-half: "You hope that if your car is good on a mile-and-a-half that you can take it to the next one and be just as good," Allmendinger said.
Vegas: "Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway are two totally different racetracks," Allmendinger said. "From an overhead view, you would say ‘Oh, same racetrack, same setup,’ but Vegas – although it’s starting to get a few more bumps in it – still has a ton of grip in it and doesn’t use up tires much. Vegas over the last couple of years has become difficult. It is the most typical racetrack on a Friday/Saturday where it has a ton of grip. Whether it is from the desert sun, the sand/grit that gets over the track just sitting there Sunday morning, when they drop the green flag you are sideways. The track is just slick. It does not have a lot of grip. Really, it is a tough place. I’m hoping from the Goodyear tire test in January we will be better."
West Coast swing: “Being out there for three weeks is good for one reason and that’s cost,” Allmendinger said. “It’s not like we are going Phoenix (International Raceway), Vegas, Bristol, Tennessee (Motor Speedway) back to Fontana, California (Auto Club Speedway), which is something I never understood. It makes it tough for the guys. I know my crew guys are staying out for all three weeks. When they stay out away from the race shop we legitimately only have maybe 10 to 12 people back in Harrisburg (N.C.) getting cars ready. I know they have had to work really hard the last few weeks leading up to this week trying to get everything as close as possible for the next three weeks so we are not behind when we get home. It’s tough on them knowing they are not going to get to see their families for three weeks. It’s good and bad. It’s a part of it. I love the West Coast. It’s where I grew up - - Northern California. I love the West Coast swing. Vegas has always been a place that has never been nice to me, but hopefully it’s a different year and with the tire test we will be a lot better. I have always loved Phoenix and last year at Fontana we had a great race.”
Against all odds: "Vegas has always been a weakness of mine for whatever reason," Allmendinger said. "I don’t know if it is bad memories or what. I missed the first two races there. I didn’t qualify. Last year, was our best race there, but still that was 18th. We definitely have to improve there."
Rules package: “I definitely like the less downforce,” Allmendinger said. “It looked like on restarts in front of me and in the car you definitely had to work and when the tires went off you had to work the race car. I remember driving home Sunday night thinking, ‘Gosh my chest is sore, my arms are sore.’ It was a workout for 500 miles around Atlanta. It was a lot of fun for that reason. The less horsepower I’m not sure yet honestly. It’s definitely a different driving style. I have to learn it. I have never liked taking away horsepower, but there are some benefactors for the racing. When I went back and watched the race, if you got checked up, guys would have huge runs and it made passing a little easier at times. But, it made it a little tougher at times because if you had to check up behind somebody when you had a run on them, it would just kill your momentum. The leader would still get out there a little bit and kind of drive away. Honestly, any package we have, that’s the way aerodynamics work. It’s a little too soon to say that I like this better than last year. I definitely have got to learn it. The less downforce is going to make for good racing over the course of the year and I’m excited about that. Hopefully, when we get to Vegas we will have a fast Clorox Chevy. Get it on, it’s Vegas baby.”
Picking up where they left off: “I would like to say we are going to continue from where we left off this last weekend,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “Maybe make another improvement on top of that. We would love to walk out of there with a top-five finish. I think that would be a pretty big success with our team. I definitely think we are capable of doing it. AJ has a lot of confidence after this last weekend. Last year, Atlanta was one of the toughest races we had in the whole year. We rolled into Atlanta wanting to fix that and show him that we have made some gains for him.”
Lessons learned: “We unloaded with no issues at Atlanta Motor Speedway and we hope for another smooth weekend at Vegas,” Burns said. “AJ was happy with the car most of the weekend. The biggest part for him was learning the driving style. He had to drive it a lot different than he is used to. I was amazed how quickly he picked it up. We are fortunate to be able to use the alliance and look at the other driver’s throttle traces during the test and practice sessions. By the time we got to qualifying I think he did a good job of figuring all that out. I was pretty impressed. He’s definitely not afraid to go fast. Last year, you had to hold him back because the tires couldn’t take what he wanted the car to do. The throttle traces give him a chance to see when they are lifting, if they are smooth and when they are getting back into the gas. He can really benefit from that and understand where his marks are. It’s like unloading with something you have never driven before with this new package and figuring out how you need to finesse it through the corner.”
Strengthening weaknesses: “We try to gauge ourselves off of how we finished last year,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “Our biggest Achilles heel last year were these intermediate tracks. Seventh-place at Atlanta Motor Speedway is definitely a gain on what we were doing last year. It makes us look forward to Vegas - - where we had the chance to test in January.”
Take to heart: “I love my race team,” Allmendinger said. “It all starts with Tad (Geschickter) Jodi (Geschickter) and Brad (Daugherty). They put so much support, but more importantly love and friendship into me. So, I take everything to heart more than ever. Tad allows me to be a part of the team - - not only on the racing side of it, but on the business side too with all the great partners we do have. Knowing they put everything they have into this race team, I take it to heart more than ever to raise myself to a new level and the team to a new level. Last year was great to get a win, but I just want more and more success for the team. I believe in myself and I believe in this team enough to know that we can go do that. Winning a race in one way got the pressure off so I don’t ever have to answer the question again, ‘When are you going to win a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?’ At the same point, going through Victory Lane and going to the banquet just shows how much more I want to be there year after year.”
Know when to walk away: "I don’t like to like to lose money," Allmendinger said. "My goal is always to try to make money. In Vegas, I quickly realized as many times as I have been there that place was not built on a lot of people winning. I do play. I go in stages. I’ll play roulette for a while. I’ll play craps. I equally lose in everything I find. It’s defeating when you lose the money and then you go to the racetrack. So, I try to stay away from it as much as possible."
Short story sponsor fun: “I wake up in the morning at the racetrack and right away I’m a big pancake kind of guy,” Allmendinger. “So, I eat some Hungry Jack pancakes. I’ll eat that. Then I will go take a shower, use the restroom. We have a lot of SCOTT Products for that. Then it's time to go out and get practice over with. I’m starving by that point because I have been in the race car and been working out earlier. One of the things I grab is BUSH’S Beans. I’m more of a Grillin’ Beans kind of guy. Baked Beans are great for a picnic, but I like to keep it light in the race car. They have all kinds of flavors. I like to test it to figure out what I like. Grillin’ Beans keeps it light in my stomach. At night when it is cold, I have a little Shore Lunch or soup with some Better Than Bouillon. Also, we have Kingsford Charcoal ready to go when we want to grill out and then Clorox wipes to clean up our mess. We’ve got it all.”
Racing-Rewards.com: "If you haven't already, please go sign up at www.Racing-Rewards.com," Allmendinger said. "You don't have to be an AJ Allmendinger fan to do it. You can earn points towards some really cool prizes."
Career Starts: 229
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
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Thursday, March 5th
7 PM Sponsor Dinner
Saturday, March 7th
7 to 8 PM Monte Carlo Private Event
Sunday, March 8th
9 AM to 9:15 AM Freightliner Meet & Greets
9:25 AM TO 9:40 AM PrimeSport Appearance
10 AM JTG Daugherty Racing Sponsor Meet & Greets