SCOTT Products and Food4Less: "We're happy to have SCOTT Products and Food4Less splitting the hood of our No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet SS at Auto Club Speedway," Allmendinger said. "Food4Less is in the midst of a nice promotion for fans. We're hoping fans download the DigitalFood app on their mobile device and play the scratch-off game for a chance to win tickets to the Fontana (Calif.) race."
Auto Club Speedway: “It’s just a great place and it has quickly become a favorite racetrack for drivers,” Allmendinger said “There are so many different types of lines you can run. The racing side-by-side is always great. Last year, it was so fantastic to finish in the top-10 and it was cool to see the grandstands full. On top of that, you just can’t beat the California weather. It’s nice to have SCOTT Products on the car, Food4Less and all our great partners that support our race team. We look forward to the race. It’s put on such a great show the last two years. Hopefully, I’m one of the guys battling for the win.”
Plenty of room: “You can run five or six lanes and you will be on the apron or you will be against the fence,” Allmendinger said. “It has really become one of the best racetracks for all of us to race on. It would be nice if we can continue the momentum.”
Strategy comes into play: “The finish has been amazing the last two years,” Allmendinger said. “The track always changes a lot. There’s a lot of passing. Tires wear off. So, there’s a lot of strategy when it comes to conserving your tires throughout the course of the run and what you do on pit stops.”
Fifth in points: “I know it’s early, but it’s awesome to be sitting fifth in points compared to where we were last year, which I think was 26th or 27th after four races,” Allmendinger said. “The team is doing such a great job. I have a lot great sponsors I try to promote every weekend. And, it’s nice what Tad Geschickter, Brad Daugherty and Jodi Geschickter do to give us all the tools we need and all the sponsors and all the money we have to go out there to compete with this big race teams.”
New car this weekend: “We will have a brand new race car at Auto Club Speedway,” Allmendinger said. “We ran eighth there last year. It was just an awesome race for us. We’re really looking forward to being back.”
Making improvements: “We’re ready to get to Auto Club Speedway because we had a strong finish there last season and it is a track that AJ really likes,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “We would like to one up our California race result from last year. We have a brand new race car and we feel like it is the best body we have built yet. We have been getting better each week and we have made some small improvements. We have just got to keep our momentum going.”
Avid fans: “With the start we have had to the season, I’m pumped up for it,” Allmendinger said. “This race last year we finished eighth. I’m hearing it is going to be a packed house again. Everything Auto Club Speedway is doing right now with ticket prices starting as low as $35 is great. It sounds like they are even ahead of schedule from where they were last year. To have a packed house is going to be fun. I’m a California guy. I just really enjoy coming here. The fans are so avid and when they come here you can see how much they truly enjoy the sport of NASCAR. There’s so much for them to do outside the track before we even get down to the race. There are just no negatives coming out here. I love it.”
Come together: “I think as a whole we are just better,” Allmendinger said. “We have so many great sponsors right now. The whole team is just coming together and it's showing when we get to the racetrack. We know in this business if you are missing just a little bit, you are going to be running 30th each weekend."
Nice start to season: “For us, the start of the season has been really good,” Allmendinger said. “We will see as the year goes on. The great thing about all these race teams is that they will make every adjustment they can to make these cars go as fast as possible. It will keep developing and we will keep making the racing better for the team and fans.”
High expectations: “We’re not where we need to be yet, but progress from last year is definitely being shown,” Allmendinger said. “Every weekend I feel like we make gains. We go about the weekend really well, which last year I felt like Fridays really kind of dictated our weekend. If we didn’t have a good day on Friday, it was just going to be a rough weekend throughout the course of Saturday and Sunday. This year, I feel like every weekend we start off a little slow and some of that is actually me trying to learn how to drive this new package we have with the less downforce and less horsepower. Having done some NASCAR Xfinity races, it’s closer to that. Every racetrack I feel like I have to relearn just a little bit - - different techniques. I start off a little slow. We continue to make the car better as the weekend goes on and we put together solid Sundays. Even at Phoenix International Raceway, we started last because we had a motor issue, but we picked away at it and almost got in the top-10. Unfortunately, our jackman Michael Klein went down with an injury in the middle of the race and that kind of set us back, but we still fought hard and got a 17th-place finish and it kept us pretty high in the points. We’re making progress. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to make the cars a little faster. I’ve got to keep doing a better job throughout the weekend, but we are definitely a lot better than we were last year.”
Consistency: “Last year, I wanted to be a consistent top-15 team and that’s where we need to be,” Allmendinger said. “Our goals need to be a consistent top-15 team and when we are really hitting our stride, we can be in the top-10 and have shots to win races. Last year, we just didn’t do that. We did make the Chase from the Watkins Glen (International) win. We were running better at the end of the year. As a whole, if you look at our season we were an 18th to 23rd-place car every weekend. We struggled to get a lot of top-15 finishes really until the end of the year. This year we’re consistently inside the top-15. We already have two top-10 finishes. Our worst finish was 20th and that was at Daytona (International Speedway). So, we’re definitely getting there. I’d like to be in that more consistent 12th, 10th, eighth range throughout the whole weekend, but we are developing as a race team. Brian Burns, as a crew chief, is getting a lot better and we are working well together. We will definitely get there."
Lean on me: “We have an alliance with RCR (Richard Childress Racing),” Allmendinger said. “RCR, the No. 78 team, the No. 13 team and our team with the alliance are running a lot better together and the results show it. What we get from RCR is just pretty much everything. We get cars, we get engineering help, we get anything that comes to development of the race car and the program. At the shop, we really look at the details and try to improve little by little. Last year, we were looking for big gains and that was a couple tenths of a second and just anything we could do on the race car to find those big gains. Now, we’ve got our race cars a lot better. Our fab shop, our body shop and our race team are really good at looking at those details. Where we are at now, it’s not those big gains, we’re just looking for those small little details we can do to get just a little more downforce, more aerodynamics in the race car, mechanical grip, things like that to be a consistent top-10 car each week instead of that 15th to 17th range.”
Time on the east side: “I had to finally come home to North Carolina,” Allmendinger said. “I just needed a little bit of a break to reenergize, but my crew guys are still out there. It’s unbelievable the work they are putting in out there. They worked on my race car in the hotel parking lot last weekend and they will do it again this week. My crew guys are troopers. They are awesome. We will go to Fontana (Calif.) and be ready to go.”
Because I’m Happy: “I’m so happy where I am at right now just in life and with this race team and I’m truly enjoying it,” Allmendinger said.
Update on jackman that suffered torn calf at Phoenix: "I would like to thank everyone for the thoughts and well wishes," said Mike Klein. "I'm going to be out for at least six weeks, but our team will be solid as ever."
Standing out: “Good teams have to make the most out of a bad weekend,” JTG Daugherty Racing team owner Tad Geschickter said. “At Phoenix, we blew a motor and had to start in the rear of the field, we had the injury on pit road and still salvaged a top-17 finish. To me, that is what makes a good team at the end of a season. I think we still are positioning ourselves nicely. We just need to keep getting better from here. Mike’s injury, although it is severe, it is not as severe as it could have been. So, he is not lost for the season. We just have to work hard this week to make sure we shore that spot up for Fontana and the next few weeks.”
Career Starts: 231
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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Friday, March 20
2:30 PM to 2:45 PM NASCAR media availability with AJ at the Auto Club Speedway media center
Sunday, March 22
9 AM to 9:15 AM AJ will read to children for driver story time at Auto Club Speedway in Lefty's Fun Zone
10 AM JTG Daugherty Racing sponsor meet and greets