Track: Michigan International Speedway
Event: Pure Michigan 400
Race Date / Time: Sunday, August 17th / 1 PM ET
TV / Radio: ESPN / MRN / SiriusXM
Michigan: “That place is so fast and has so much grip when you are there for practice and qualifying,” Allmendinger said. “When it is warmer, the track is much slicker. It makes the weekend hard to set up for to prepare for the race. You know on Sunday, the pace is going to be a lot slower, but it is hard to judge what the Kingsford Chevrolet is going to do. I feel like the track will be similar to the way it was the last time we were there. The way this sport is and the way these race teams are, we are constantly updating our race cars. I don’t think we will have the exact same setup when we go back."
Horsepower and handling: “Horsepower never hurts and that doesn’t matter if you are on a short track or road course or Michigan (International Speedway) or Daytona (International Speedway) or whatever, but it’s all about handling at Michigan,” Allmendinger said. “If it’s a warmer race, it gets slicked up. The groove is not very wide there. Even after running all weekend and having the other races there, the groove only widens out to a groove and a half or maybe two grooves. Handling is just really important. It doesn’t matter how much horsepower you have, if you can’t get to the throttle off the corners, it’s going to make the straightaways really long. You really have to get your car digging center off and you’ve got to be in the throttle to make that horsepower work.”
Sinking in: “Winning at Watkins Glen (International) and being in the Chase, I don’t think it has set in yet,” Allmendinger said. “Honestly, I’ve got no nerves going into the Chase because we are playing with house money. Nobody expected us to be there. So, we’ve shocked the world once and maybe we can go do it again. It is incredible that Tad and Jodi and Brad’s little race team - that they have put their life and heart and soul into - can say, this is a Chase race team. That is awesome. It doesn’t automatically make us a championship contender as we sit here and talk right now. Do I say, ‘Oh yeah, we are a championship favorite.’ No, not even close, but the way this format is you don’t have to be great for 10 races. You only have to be good enough each segment. Who knows, we get on a roll, we might get to Homestead (Fla.) and be one of four drivers that have a shot to win the championship. Anything can happen. I’m just happy I get to be a part of it.”
Victory is sweet: “At least one day, we took down the big dogs,” said Allmendinger. “The race at Watkins Glen International was the perfect race.”
Dream come true: “At the start of the race at Watkins Glen, I said, 'Guys meet me at the start-finish line after the race because we are going to celebrate at the start-finish line,” Allmendinger said. “I was feeling good that day. I knew we had a shot at it. I felt confident all weekend. The pit crew was awesome. Everybody was awesome on the race team. Honestly, they made my dream come true.”
Making his parents proud: “To be in victory lane with my parents and sharing my first victory with them, was so important to me because they have meant so much in my life,” Allmendinger said. “Also, my girlfriend Tara (Meador) was there and she’s been such a big factor and has helped me emotionally and mentally over the last year-and-a-half. To share it with them and Tad (Geschickter), Jodi (Geschickter) and Brad (Daugherty) and the team was pretty special. My parents have sacrificed everything for me. They mortgaged their house three different times to keep me going. Their whole life has been about me and trying to achieve my dreams. My dad always said when I was born and started coming up through the ranks - and especially when I made it to Champ Car and into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - he was living through me. His dream was to be a professional race car driver. He never had the opportunity and he’s been living through me. My parents have raised me with such great values and morals and in the past at times I feel like I let them down because of some of the things I did and some of the mistakes I made. It’s not because they didn’t teach me morals. I always felt like I disappointed them to a certain degree. I’ve done a lot the last year or so to try to thank them and do things for them. I felt like in the past I failed for not doing these things for them. I’m just trying to make them proud of me.”
Reflecting more on victory lane: “It was amazing to turn around as I am celebrating in victory lane to see Roger Penske, Bud Danker and Walt Czarnecki, who are really the three heads of Penske Racing," Allmendinger said. "To have them to take time out of there day to congratulate me and say they are proud of me and at the same point have Richard Childress walk up with them, is something I will never forget. Richard has meant so much to our race team with the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) alliance to the ECR Engines we have and the relationship with Chevy, but to have him come up also and say he was proud of us was special. A lot of this is because of him and what he has done because he has really opened the doors to his organization to let us have so many resources. Honestly, so many resources that it is hard for us to keep up with because we don’t have the man hours/manpower to keep up with it. A lot of it has do with him as well. To have those people in there and even Kurt Busch stopped by that honestly I don’t have a relationship with, but to give me a quick congrats, those are moments that will stick with me along with the win.”
Sponsors: “More importantly for us to win and be in the Chase, it gives all of our partners - SCOTT Products, BUSH’S Beans, Kingsford, Clorox, Charter, Glad, Shore Lunch, Hungry Jack, House-Autry, Freightliner, Miller Welders - great exposure. We’ve got a lot of great sponsors and during Chase time it gives them all the exposure they deserve. They do so much promotion for the race team, the fans and the sport itself. So, to be able to give that back and give them the exposure they deserve is priceless."
Bathroom makeover: “Scott Brand is offering two lucky winners $25,000 to make over their bathrooms through the 'Pic to Win' Sweepstakes,” Allmendinger said. “Go to SCOTTBrand.com to find out more.”
Racing-Rewards.com: “Hey fans, if you haven’t gone to Racing-Rewards.com and signed up, go do it right now,” Allmendinger said. “We have all kinds of prizes, all kinds of stuff. You are missing out. Go sign up.”
AJ Allmendinger has 12 starts at Michigan International Speedway. His best finished there is 11th (6/13/2010 and 8/21/11). His average start is 25.667 and average finish is 20.917.
Career Starts: 213
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 - 8/10/2012 Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Driver DOB: 12/16/1981
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Crew Chief: Brian Burns
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AJ'S WHEREABOUTS:Friday, August 15th
1:45 PM Media availability with AJ llmendinger at Michigan International Speedway media center
6:15 PM Q&A on stage in fan plaza area at Michigan International Speedway
Sunday, August 17
10:30 PM JTG Daugherty Racing meet & greets