EVENT: Toyota Owners 400
DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 24th / 1 PM ET
TV/RADIO: FOX / MRN / SiriusXM
Rear tires: “One thing about Richmond International Raceway is that it is going to be hard on rear tires,” Allmendinger said. “That’s what Richmond is all about. It seems like over the last couple of years we’ve gotten a lot of long runs at that place. You can see a lot of cars that are good early in the run can go away and vice versa. No matter what, it’s like you think you’ve got good rear tires going into the race and the next thing you know you get 50 laps into the run and I didn’t expect this. It’s hard on rear tires that's for sure. Overall, we're hoping for a solid weekend for Kroger, BUSH'S Beans and all of our amazing partners. We've been running good and we hope the results show that this weekend for them."
Tough place: "It’s definitely not like that physical demand you get at Bristol (Motor Speedway), but it’s the same deal," Allmendinger said. "You’ve got to be patient and you’ve got to be easy on the rear tires, but at the same point you’ve got to make sure the car rolls the center still really well. It’s a tough place.”
Lower downforce: “I’m not sure, but I don’t think it’s (lower downforce) as big of a deal," Allmendinger said. "There’s a lot of rear downforce that has been taken away from these race cars. So, I can promise you it’s not going to help the rear tires. It’s going to be what we all focus on. You will hear through the course of the weekend on the radios and during interviews that rear tires are so important no matter what you focus on through the rest of the practice session or the race. It’s always rear tires that is in the front of your mind. Like I said, even if you think you are good in practice, you really don’t know until that first long run how good your car is on the rear tires. “
Good changes: “We have definitely been working on our short track program,” crew chief Randall Burnett said. “We struggled at Phoenix (International Raceway) and that’s the closest track to Richmond that we have run on as far as shape. It’s a little different with the tire combination and how the tire wear goes, but we definitely took a look at our Phoenix car and found some things that we really didn’t like and changed quite a bit of front end stuff for Richmond. We did some other fundamental things with the car that will help us going into this weekend. We really made some good changes from our Phoenix package to accommodate the things we fight at Richmond. We’re looking forward to it.”
Tire management: “Like AJ said, tire wear is a huge thing,” Burnett said. “With it being a Sunday afternoon race this year instead of Saturday night, that will come more into play - - with the sun being there and whatever the temp is supposed to be, which I think is in the 70’s. It’s always a challenge in Richmond with tires, tire management and drop off. That will be one of the biggest things we fight.”
Fridays: “If we unload and we have a good day on Friday it translates through to the rest of the weekend,” Burnett said. “We will keep on working on our qualifying efforts. That’s one of the things AJ and I talked about during the winter. He was like, ‘Man, we just really struggled in qualifying’ and that translates. If you have a solid Friday, you have a lot better chance of having a good Sunday. We’ve been working really hard on that and making sure we make more final rounds this year and we have been working on progressively trying to get better with that.”
Coming together: “As a group, our team is coming together,” Burnett said. “Our road guys have been really strong. They’ve done a great job. We’ve had a couple things happen in practice that they caught and saved us for the weekend. They are switched on. We know we have some areas that we have got to work on, but that is part of our team growing together. Also, the shop guys have really stepped up and done a really nice job of building the cars and getting us what we need. They have put in a lot of extra effort into making sure we are getting what we want to take to the racetrack. From the shop guys, road crew and pit crew, everybody is coming together and meshing well. We have some areas that we need to work on to get better, but I’m happy with the progress we’ve made.”
Team goal: “I’m really enjoying my role,” competition director Ernie Cope said. “Randall is doing a great job and it’s fun to watch. I support him and the whole group and trying to make sure everybody has what they need. Everyone is working well together and we’re going for the same goal as a team.”
Career Starts: 271
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, April 21st
5:30 PM to 6:30 PM Kroger Fan Fest / AJ Allmendinger to sign autographs and interact with fans at 3001 Polo Pkwy in Midlothian, VA 23113