Race: Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard
Date/Time: Sunday, July 26th / 3:30 PM
TV/Radio: NBCSN / IMS / SIRIUSXM
Dinger throws out first pitch at Reds game with Daugherty as catcher: “I left out early this morning (7/21) with Tad (Geschickter, JTG Daugherty Racing team owner) to head up to Cincinnati to throw out the first pitch for the Cincinnati Reds game tonight thanks to Kroger,” Allmendinger said. “Brad (Daugherty, JTG Daugherty Racing team owner) will be my catcher. Kroger has a full day of activities planned. It's going to be a big time. Then we’ll drive on to Indy for a Kroger autograph session (Thursday, July 23rd from 5 to 7 PM at Store #959, 1217 S Rangeline Road, Carmel, IN 46032). It's a busy week for us before the No. 47 Kroger/Kingsford Chevy hits the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.”
Prestigious place: “Every time I drive into Indianapolis Motor Speedway, whether it is for The Brickyard or the Indy 500, it makes me think back to the history of the place,” Allmendinger said. “I mean no matter what kind of race it puts on or how the previous year’s race went, it’s a place with so much history behind it. I love driving into there. It is just an awesome place.”
The right balance: “Track position at Indy is always critical,” Allmendinger said. “To me, you have to have the car just free enough to make sure you get it pointed so you can get in the throttle and use those long straightaways. You can’t get too free, I’ve really noticed the last few years especially. Turn 1 has gotten really loose and Turn 2 gets a little bit free and 3 and 4 gets a little more tight kind of off the corner. There’s a fine balance of getting your car into the racetrack to being kind of neutral everywhere and not too tight or too loose. So, that is always critical. But, just in general, it’s important to qualify up front and stay up front all day. If you kind of get mid-pack, there is not a lot you can do. Even if you have a fast race car and you get mid-pack, you spend all day trying to make that up. We need a great qualifying run, great pit stops like usual, the right strategy at that right time and just no mistakes."
Challenges: “For me, Turns 1 and 2 have been a bigger problem compared to 3 and 4,” Allmendinger said. “Turns 3 and 4, I’ve got my marks down. Turns 1 and 2 the last couple years, I get too free and I feel like I am really spinning the tires. You free the car up in Turn 1 to try to help it through the rest of the corner and then it gets too loose, you try to tighten it up and then you get too tight off of 1 and it messes up Turn 2.”
Narrow track: “It’s really narrow and you can’t make a mistake,” Allmendinger said. “And, the restarts are difficult depending on if the racetrack gets hot. The last couple of years, being a little warm there, Turn 1 gets really loose like I said before. You are kind of spinning the tires off of Turn 2. Turns 3 and 4 have a little more grip in it I always feel like. On the restarts, you can get hung on the outside and then you are kind of along for the ride. With the new aero package and the high drag, you'll get cars side-by-side and you are going to have guys getting big runs. With the new rules package, it is going to be interesting to see how the weekend plays out. So, hopefully we will put on a good show.”
Better racing: “What NASCAR is trying to do with the rule changes, is make the racing better for all of us at places like Indy where there hasn’t been a lot of passing,” Allmendinger said. “They know we need to do something to try to help with passing. So, it’s a wait and see to find out how it all plays out. It’s challenging for the teams for sure, but it is the same for all of us. The bigger teams I think can cope with it a little better I think. In the end, the packages are the same for everybody. You go to these racetracks and you get whatever practice time you get to figure it out. You know you go into the race and try to make the best of it. It is a challenge, but it would be different if they were making it for only half of the guys and not the other half. You just cope with it and do what you can and make the best of it.”
Chassis 429: “We’re bringing chassis 429 to Indy and it has always been a good performing car,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “We ran it at a lot of places last year and this year we took it to Vegas (Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star race and Pocono (Raceway). With the new aero package, everyone is back to square one and it’s a good opportunity for us to get ahead of a lot of teams. It gives us a level playing field and a chance to optimize our test and make improvements.”
Crew chief Indiana native: “Being from Indiana, Indy is more like my Daytona (International Speedway),” Burns said. “Before I moved to North Carolina, I lived in Indianapolis just a few miles from the track. I moved there from southern Indiana to go to college. Of course, you want to run your best at every track, but this is one where I especially want us to run good in front of my hometown crowd. It’s just nice to be back to visit with family and friends.”
Surreal moment: “I remember what it felt like the first time I stood on pit road at Indy for the National Anthem when I worked for Ganassi Racing,” Burns said. “It was one of the most surreal experiences in my career. All my life I had watched the races from the other side of the fence up until that point. It was so special to me to be a part of such a prestigious event. It’s a day I will never forget.”
Right direction: “New Hampshire Motor Speedway was a confidence booster for everyone,” Burns said. “We have had a lot of races where we have run well, but didn’t get the finish. Everything went well. We had a good car and executed everything well. We really needed this boost to remind ourselves we can do this and run right there with the big dogs. This is what we needed to turn the ship.”
Reflecting: “It’s been a tough couple of months,” JTG Daugherty Racing team owner Tad Geschickter said. “We haven’t got the finishes we deserve or wanted. The guys have really dug deep and done a lot of extra homework and I’m proud of the result at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We led laps, we beat a lot of good cars, got a top-13 finish and we are getting back on the right track. Everyone dug deep, AJ was a little sick, but drove his heart out. I’m pleased how everyone pulled together. We’ll move on and try to win Indy.”
*AJ Allmendinger's best finish at Indy is 10th (7/27/08) in six starts. His average finish is 18th and his average start is 21.8.
Career Starts: 246
Pole Awards: 3
First Start: 3/25/2007 Bristol
First Pole: 4/10/2010 Phoenix
Last Pole: 6/27/2015 Sonoma
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
GET OUT AND GRILL
SUMMER IS GOING STRONG!
Kingsford wants to remind you all to Get Out and Grill! Go to Kingsford.com for all your summer recipes and ideas around a great grilling experience with family and friends.
Each week throughout the NASCAR season Racing-Rewards members are given the opportunity to download exclusive AJ Allmendinger cellphone wallpaper. This week's design design features AJ and his Kingsford Charcoal car.
Click HERE to visit the download page.
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Tuesday, July 21st
First pitch Cincinnati Reds Game with catcher Brad Daugherty
Thursday, July 23rd
5 to 7 PM Kroger autograph session for the fans at Store: #959 at 1217 S Rangeline Road, Carmel, IN
Sunday, July 26th
12:30 PM to 1 PM JTG Daugherty Racing meet and greets.