Track: Kansas Speedway
Race: SpongeBob SquarePants 400
Date: Saturday, May 9th
Time: 7:30 PM ET
TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1/MRN/SIRIUSXM
Kansas Speedway: “Kansas Speedway has been repaved in the past few years and it’s a lot smoother,” Allmendinger said. “I really hope the grip level at Kansas relates to Vegas (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) because we really ran strong there and finished sixth. We have got one of our newer No. 47 Dillons/SCOTT Products Chevrolet SS race cars that we are taking to Kansas. I feel like we will have a fast car with what we learned and how we ran at Vegas. I feel pretty good about this weekend.”
In the mix: “If we can go to Kansas, have a solid weekend and get back in the mix, then we can look at the first 11 races and say, ‘We are there, we just had some bad luck and we fought through it,’” Allmendinger said. “We just need that solid weekend at Kansas and then we can take a break, have some fun and learn some things during the All-Star race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway that we can apply to the Coca-Cola 600 weekend.”
Looking back: “Last year, we hit on something I liked during the second Kansas race and we were able to make our race cars better on mile-and-a-half tracks,” Allmendinger said. “We were trying to find out what we could do to make our cars faster. The first Kansas race we were not good, but to go back for the second race and the car was so much better was definitely a turning point for our team.”
Track position: “We will go into the weekend with the same setup we have learned from,” Allmendinger said. “We have to unload and have speed in the car and keep building off of that. Track position is key at Kansas. If we are fast and have a solid Friday, it makes Saturday easier on us.”
Noticeable difference: “Our mile-and-a-half track program is definitely better,” Allmendinger said. “I’m still a little confused about what happened at Texas Motor Speedway and why we missed it (the setup) somehow. I guess sometimes it happens.”
Smooth and fast: “Kansas Speedway, I feel like last year was one of the first steps towards the baseline tracks that we run,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “We feel like our baseline mile-and-a-half has evolved so much. It will be effective at a track like Kansas. It’s one of the smoothest tracks and it caters to a driver that drives fast. It’s a place where you really don’t fight handling issues. It’s just a really fast place and a place that AJ embraces.”
19th in points: “We haven’t had the greatest finishes recently and it’s time to get back on track,” Allmendinger said. “We were able to leave Talladega with the car in one piece and a top-20 finish, which gained us a few spots in the points standings. I try not to focus on points so much, but if we consistently run in the top-15 and top-10 the points will come. It’s nice to come out of Talladega within striking distance after the bad weeks we have had.”
Control what can be controlled: "It’s not all or nothing right now for us because we are only 24 points out of 16th," Allmendinger said. "We have ran well - - better this year than last year and probably have close to the same amount of points. It’s tough, but that’s the way it works. We have had two DNFs with motor issues, running eighth at Bristol (Motor Speedway) and getting crashed not of our own doing. We’ve really only had one bad weekend of our own doing and that’s Texas (Motor Speedway) where we were never good and finished 21st. Everything else should have been top-15 finishes, if not top-10s. I look at right now it’s not all or nothing. If there is a chance to win, you do what you have to do. Points, I keep one eye on it. I may glance at it to say, ‘Okay this is where we are at.’ We just need to keep going out there and do what we’ve been doing - - run well and have good finishes. At some point, we know there is going to be bad luck. We hope, knock on wood, we got it all out of the way early. You control what you can control and that’s putting good race cars on the track and making good decisions myself. We will get everything we can out of whatever place we run whether that’s a win, a top-10 or top-20. The points will fall where they fall. I don’t really look at the points closer until July into August and then you make your decisions.”
Hoping Kansas is a favorite: “I always joke with my crew chief and say, ‘You determine my favorite racetrack,’” Allmendinger said. “If we show up race weekend and the car is fast, it’s my favorite racetrack and I love the place. If we show up and we are not very good, ‘I don’t like this place.' It changes throughout the course of the year.”
Growing relationship: “You have to have a good relationship with your crew chief,” Allmendinger said. “You have to know each other. The crew chief and driver relationship is a weird relationship. The driver has to know the crew chief and the crew chief has to know the driver. They have to know the right buttons to push and what buttons to stay away from. This is my second full year working with Brian Burns and I worked with him nine races in 2013. He’s learning me. I’ll be the first one to admit I’m a bit of a head case out there. I have some weird stuff going on up there. He’s learning the right buttons and what makes me tick. He laughs about it now. If you hear my radio, I have some weird stuff to say and not for my crew chief. He always likes it when I say, “Awe man, we are in trouble, we are struggling, we are in trouble.' He said, 'It took me a long time to figure out why the next lap you would come off the corner four wide on the bottom of everybody passing after you just said we are in trouble.' I said, 'Yeah it’s a weird thing I have to push myself to get myself motivated like no we are not in trouble.' Every driver is different and every relationship is different. Some relationships work and some don’t. I like my crew chief. Brian is a smart guy. He works hard at it and we have fun away from the racetrack. For me that’s important. I can be mad and frustrated and after the race we get on the plane, we talk about it and nothing is wrong. It’s all about working together. Mine is always about having a good relationship and having a good time away from the racetrack. The whole team is like that.”
Career Starts: 237
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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Saturday, May 9th
3:45 p.m. Media availability in Kansas Speedway Media Center
4:05 p.m. JTG Daugherty Racing Meet & Greets at hauler