RACE: Good Sam 500
DATE/TIME: Sunday, March 13th / 3:30 PM ET
Phoenix: “I’ve always enjoyed racing at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) and it’s been a good track for me,” said Allmendinger, whose best finish at PIR is sixth (11/13/11). “I really enjoyed it after they did the repave. It took a little bit to get used to. It’s a tough place because you’ve really got to make sure your car turns well there especially in Turns 3 and 4 because it’s really flat. But, even in Turns 1 and 2 it is a fine line between making sure you’re not too free in, but it still turns and that’s what we all fight when we get there. We’ve had pretty solid runs there over the past couple of years there. I think our No. 47 Fry's/SCOTT Products Chevrolet SS is going to be really good.”
Fine line: “Since we went to lower horsepower last year, the biggest thing at Phoenix is trying to get the thing to turn through the center of the corner,” Allmendinger said. “In the past with the horsepower, you could pick the throttle up and you had all that horsepower that helped you turn the car. Now, with the lower horsepower, it’s a fine line between getting the car just too loose into the corner and still allowing it to roll through the center and pick the throttle up and having to keep turn.”
It’s tricky: “It’s a difficult track,” Allmendinger said. “It’s tricky. It’s gotten a little slicker. The grip is not quite there. It’s always a fun place because it is unique. We don’t go to really any other track like it. It makes the setup and driving it a bit different. I think over the last couple of years the gears that we’ve used, we’ve been downshifting. So, when do you use the downshift to help turn the car and when does that over slow the car? There’s a lot of stuff that goes into racing at Phoenix. I think it’s going to be the same thing.”
Flat as a pancake: “At Phoenix, Turn 3 is difficult because it is so flat,” Allmendinger said. “You get in there and your first thing is that you want the back of the car to be stable so you are not getting loose into the corner, but its the same deal with no banking, once that rear takes a set, it just gets real tight through the center. So, Turns 3 and 4 have always been a fine line. As the track has lost a little bit of grip after the last couple of years, it’s even gotten worse. That’s to me where I focus if you can get the car through 3 and 4 pretty good, I feel like overall you are going to have a good package and usually be pretty quick.”
Wide groove: “Whether it’s the NASCAR Xfinity Series or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, it widens the groove out for the race on Sunday,” Allmendinger said. “It’s a little bit more racy, it always has a big crowd, and a cool atmosphere."
Eliminate the little stuff: “When it comes to outright speed of our race cars, I’m really happy,” Allmendinger said. “The guys have worked hard over the off season. You look at a place like Atlanta (Motor Speedway) and we unloaded third on Friday, had a great run, but didn’t get the finish that we needed. Then we had some good speed in our Vegas (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) car. It’s really the speed of the cars that I’m pumped up about and the direction of the team. We know we have got to fix some stuff. I’d say we have got to make sure we dot our i’s and cross our t’s. There’s little stuff that crops up that keeps us from finishing well. But, overall the direction of our race team and all the changes we made in the off season is definitely showing a lot of improvement.”
Good track for team: “We are definitely looking forward to Phoenix," crew chief Randall Burnett said. "It’s a flat one-mile track. AJ likes short track stuff and he’s really good at those type of tracks. We’re excited to get one of our short track cars out there. I think we’ve made some good gains this year with some new suspension stuff. We’ll go out there and give them a hard time.”
Ernie Cope: “Leadership is what Ernie Cope brings to the table,” Allmendinger said. “That’s something we’ve lacked inside the race shop. We’re really getting everything together. We just have to take care of the little stuff that has bitten us over the last couple of years. We used to have a lot of big stuff to where we were just trying to get the cars to the track. Now, the cars look nice and they’ve got good speed in them. So, it’s the little stuff that we have to keep working on. Ernie brings that leadership to make sure the big things are getting done and the little things are not glossed over. It’s about getting those little things done and that’s how you go compete with Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas and the other big teams. That leadership and attention to detail will get us there.”
Coming together: “AJ has been good at Phoenix in the past,” competition director Ernie Cope said. “I feel like all the guys will put their heads together and come up with a good setup. The whole group is clicking and working as a team as far as making their changes. Tony (Palmer) and Brian (Burns) are doing a great job engineering-wise. During the race, everybody contributes and helps. It’s just a good team effort. I like seeing what I see. The group has really pulled together and it’s only the third race into the season.”
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Career Starts: 266
Pole Awards: 4
First Start: 3/25/2007 Bristol
First Pole: 4/10/2010 Phoenix
Last Pole: 8/8/15 Watkins Glen
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: Randall Burnett
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Thursday, March 10th
4:30 to 6 PM Autograph session at Fry’s 16380 W Yuma Rd, Goodyear, Ariz.