Track: Martinsville Speedway
Event: STP 500
Date: Sunday, March 30, 2014
Time: 1 PM Eastern
TV / Radio: FOX / MRN / SIRIUSXM
Site of career-best finish: “Martinsville Speedway has always been a favorite place of mine for a couple reasons,” AJ Allmendinger said. “One of the main reasons is because it’s where I posted my career-best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish. I finished second there in April 2012 after starting 27th with Penske. I have that top-five finish and a couple top-10s there. It’s just an action-packed track and a fun race for the fans to watch. I know it’s a fun track for me and it’s one of the tracks I love going to.”
Testing provides starting point: “We went up to Martinsville Speedway for a two-day test, but really didn’t get to test as much as we would have liked to because of all the rain,” Allmendinger said. “We did a few runs and were able to get a really good starting point so that we will unload decent. Between tracks like Phoenix (International Raceway) and Bristol Motor Speedway, we have had really good speed in the car. Hopefully, we can take our notes from the test and stuff we have been doing to have good practice sessions and a strong qualifying effort. We’re coming off a top-10 (eighth) and would like to keep our momentum going at Martinsville Speedway.”
Fired up: “AJ is probably quite a different driver than he was four or five years ago,” Burns said. “He’s come back and he’s got a fire under him that I haven’t seen in a lot of people. It’s pretty cool to be with someone like that right now.”
“AJ’s a smart guy,” continued Burns. “When we first got him and looked back at his history we thought ‘Man, we are going to wreck some cars, but he’s probably going to run up front.’ Actually, he is a lot smarter, more defensive, aware and alert than we thought he was. He is able to take those big chances and make those big moves that so far we have not been involved in any big wrecks. It is kind of a shame this year that we haven’t had the results to show our efforts. All the tracks we have been to so far, we have been really competitive and the top-10 at California (Auto Club Speedway) is kind of the first time that something crazy did not happen to us to where we could prove to our team owners that what they did in the off season has paid off for them.”
Night and day: “It’s been a night and day difference for us this season,” Burns said. “For instance at Auto Club Speedway, I cannot think of the last time JTG Daugherty Racing showed up at a place like that and was that competitive. It’s probably the first time we have even finished on the lead lap there to be honest with you. It is just a tough place where motor and aerodynamics are such a big deal and this year we have got both of those in our favor. It is a pretty big difference.”
Martinsville is circled on the calendar: “JTG Daugherty Racing’s history is that we’ve actually been pretty strong at some of these short tracks with Martinsville Speedway being one of them,” Burns said. “We took the time last week and used one of our tests that NASCAR allots us and we went and tested at Martinsville. It rained for about a day and a half and we only got about a half day of testing accomplished. However, I can’t remember how many times we would get through practice on the first day of a race weekend and wish we had an extra hour for work to do. We feel like we have already got that out of the way there. We are going to unload really well. We have higher expectations about Martinsville Speedway than we ever did about California (Auto Club Speedway) if that tells you anything.”
Eye-opening experience: “Initially, going into this season we picked five or six tracks where we knew we were going to run really well and honestly Auto Club Speedway probably was not one of them for us," Burns said. "It kind of opens our eyes that we can run a lot better than we realize. We are contenders just because we have got these tools that Brad (Daugherty) Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) gave to us in the off season. It’s nice to know you can run with the big boys there and have just as high expectations as them.”
Confidence boost: “I think you always wonder how you stack up against some of these people and a top-10 finish last weekend at a place like Auto Club Speedway automatically raises the bar for the rest of the season because we know we have the capability to do it,” Burns said. “Your standards have been raised and it makes it a huge confidence booster. I think that anybody that has been a part of this kind of deal knows a race season is an emotional roller coaster. You have a couple bad weekends and the one thing you need to just turn it around to steer the ship in the right direction is a good finish and that’s what sets the pace for the next few weeks.”
Not on a desert island: “Going into this (RCR technical alliance) I thought there might be a chance where we wouldn’t get much info, but that’s not the case at all because Richard Childress Racing treats us just like their teammate,” Burns said. “If we have questions, they send people over immediately to help us out. During post practice meetings we go in there with their drivers and their crew chiefs and we all talk with an open notebook. It’s so nice not to be on a desert island like we have been in the past where you felt like you are off on a setup and not sure if you are going down the wrong path. Now, we have this plethora of information from them that helps steer us back on the right path. It has paid off tremendously already for us.”
Benefits of having an alliance: “We’ve really been pleased with the technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR),” said JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter. “It just helps a ton having teams to bounce ideas and notes off of one another and the motor program has been phenomenal over there. With the testing rule limiting us to four tests per team, we sat down with RCR and said which four tests should we do that will benefit the group the most. We picked places where AJ has a really good feel and great track record. Then we get the same benefit from Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Paul Menard and, of course, Furniture Row is in the alliance. That’s one real example where we are able to test at a number of different tracks by all of us sitting down as a group and deciding where we should test so we can cover them all.”
Team motto: “We created a team motto this year called ‘All In’,” Geschickter said. “We’ve got some pictures of Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston on the canvas pasted on our doors that everyone sees as they come and go from the shop. I think the guys have realized we’ve got a world class driver in the car. He’s fast, he’s aggressive. He really wants it. Everyone is excited. If we do our part, I think we will continue to get better with this Richard Childress Racing alliance with AJ in the car. I’m not going to lie. The first four or five weeks on a team of our size going back and forth from the West Coast and having so many cars prepared early in the season can be a little bit of a grind. We need to take a little break. Maybe we need to do some extra dinners and cut the tension sometimes. Like any family, when you get tired it’s easy to have a few flare-ups. So far, it’s been pretty calm and everyone is pulling together. I’m excited about that.”
AJ Allmendinger has 11 starts, one top-five and two top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway and has led 25 laps. He earned his career-best finish of second-place (4/1/12) at the short track. His average start is 22.455 and his average finish is 21.455.
Career Starts: 196
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: 2 - 4/1/2012 Martinsville
Driver DOB: 12/16/1981
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Crew Chief: Brian Burns
GET OUT & GRILL:
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FAN OF THE WEEK:
Enter NOW for a chance to ride along with AJ Allmendinger during a race this season!
Throughout the season our JTG Daugherty Racing "#47 FAN OF THE WEEK" will have their photo featured on AJ's car.
Each week we post the "#47 FAN OF THE WEEK" theme, with instructions on how you can enter. The best fan submission to us via the JTG Daugherty Racing social media pages will be chosen the following Monday and will be featured on AJ Allmendinger's #47 car during the next race.
Last week we asked race fans to tell us why they thought they were the biggest fan in NASCAR. After receiving several great entries we narrowed it down to a story from David Fisher and the famous piece of NASCAR sheet metal that got away. The Western North Carolina native has been a lifelong fan of the sport and will actually be in attendance at this weekend's race in Martinsville so he can see his picture on AJ's car as it circles the track and races to the front! Have a great time David and thank you for being a dedicated NASCAR fan, we are proud to have you as our #47FanOfTheWeek!
This week's #47FanOfTheWeek contest will be almost as simple as guessing how many jelly beans are in a glass jar. Take a look at the attached image and send us your best guess with how many BUSH'S® Grillin' Beans are in the BUSH'S® Grillin' Beans can that JTG Daugherty Racing team member Zach Case is holding. To give yourself a better chance at winning, run out to your local grocery store and buy a can or three of BUSH'S® Grillin' Beans and count each delicious bean for yourself then send us your guess. The particular can in the image is "BOURBON AND BROWN SUGAR" flavored.
We'll have AJ Allmendinger himself post the correct number on Sunday so make sure you send us your guess before the race starts!
THIS MIGHT BE THE TASTIEST CONTEST YOU ENTER ALL YEAR!
Sunday, March 23rd
10 AM to 10:15 AM Sprint Experience Q&A in Midway
10:30 AM JTG Daugherty Racing Meet and Greets at 47 Hauler