Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Allmendinger listed among favorites at 8-to-1 odds to win at Sonoma

A.J. Allmendinger's only Cup series win was at Watkins Glen. 

Date/Time: Sunday, June 25th
TV Network / Radio: FS1 / PRN Radio / SIRIUSXM


Technical track: “Sonoma is a real technical racetrack,” Allmendinger said. “It’s like a short track. You are beating and banging on each other. You can make passes there. The tires go away quick, but if you can conserve the tires better you can make passes. It’s a challenging racetrack. The strategy has got you wondering when that last yellow is going to fall. If that yellow falls, do you pit, do you not pit? It’s a challenge from start to finish because the opportunity is there to make a lot of mistakes and slide off the racetrack or to run into each other, which makes for great racing. In the end, I think it puts on one of the best races. It’s a home race for me. So, hopefully, we’ll get the Kroger ClickList Chevy finally in Victory Lane or at least a top-10, a top-five, something!”

Much love for Sonoma Raceway
: “It’s a place I truly love,” Allmendinger said. “It’s my home race. We haven’t really capitalized yet in a three-year span. Hopefully, we can do that this weekend.”

Road course racing: “It’s been always my passion – – left and right,” Allmendinger said. “You must have a good car, but I feel like a driver can make more of a difference on a road course. I take pride in that. I really enjoy it. I’m always trying to work on my craft and make it better. Sonoma is a place that we’ve been fast at the last three years, but we haven’t got the results whether it’s bad luck or mistakes.”

Stage racing
: “It can be (complicated) and then again it may not be and it may help actually,” Allmendinger said. “The stages depending on where they fall, Sonoma is always a place where you are trying to save tires or maybe you are trying to stretch the fuel. So, stage racing may make planning the strategy of the race a little bit easier. You’re still going to have to figure out when the time is right to pit. The last stage is always going to be the most difficult. Road course racing, you race the pit stop strategy kind of backwards. It may take a little bit of that out and help just the strategy overall.”

Sonoma versus Watkins Glen: “It’s very different than Watkins Glen International where we got our first win,” Allmendinger said. Tires at Sonoma are critical. It’s so easy to burn the rear tires up. I think it’s a completely different racetrack. It’s always interesting to see the people that are good at Sonoma and if they can carry it over to Watkins Glen. I think you have guys that are good at both places. And, then you have certain guys that just have Sonoma down. It’s like a short track to a certain degree. It’s all about conserving your rear tires and not overdriving the car there. It is really easy to do. And, it’s the same deal where track position is critical there, but strategy really plays out too.”

Heartbreaker: “Sonoma is one of those racetracks that’s broken our hearts a little bit,” Allmendinger said. “Self-induced at times for sure. We’ve had speed there. Qualified on the pole. We haven’t had a good finish there since I’ve been here at the race team. Last year, I thought we had a chance to win for Kroger and all our partners. We lost a tire on pit road and had to start at the back and it cost us a chance to go win the race. We’ve got to clean up our own mistakes and make sure we are on point. If you can conserve rear tires – if you can do that – you have a great shot to win the race. We hope to go into Sonoma strong and come out on top.”

Road course car versus oval car
: “The car is a little bit different for sure,” Allmendinger said. “You don’t have to set up to obviously turn one direction. You got to evenly balance the car. There’s definitely different setups, the chassis is a little bit different. In the end, these races don’t just jump up and surprise us. There’s a lot of planning that goes on for each race. It’s like any other race except for turning left and right.”

Competition director and crew chief: “Ernie (Cope) and I work well together,” Allmendinger said. “We like to golf together. We have similar interests. He’s a great leader. During practices, we always have a plan. We learn a lot and then during the race, I feel like we maximize what we can do during the course of the race. He has a strong voice. So, he’s always giving me the kind of information that I need. Maybe the results haven’t shown it, but the weekends have ran smooth. We try a lot of different things and we are learning a lot constantly. That’s all you can do when you are struggling. We just keep trying things. The toughest thing about us, when it comes to resources, wind tunnel-wise and stuff like that, we don’t have that. A lot of these race weekends, especially with this package we are learning on the fly. That’s all you can do to get better.”

Teammate: “Chris (Buescher) and I get along really well,” Allmendinger said. “Obviously, he has a lot of talent when it comes to winning a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship and winning races. We can bounce ideas off of each other and the teams can do the same thing. It’s been good having him. People ask me if our struggles are because of a second car and I don’t think so. We have brand new race cars and all the things we need to go out there and keep getting better. It’s been fun to have him. I’ve learned a lot just talking to him, where his strengths are and some of the stuff I can continually work on. It’s a fun group and hopefully, the good thing is we run good together every weekend. We are trying to maximize the speed we have in the race car. I think having him here trying to get better as an organization, we will get better quicker.”

Paul Tracy and others helped growth: “There’s not just one person that specifically helped me because I learned from a lot of great people growing up,” Allmendinger said. “Paul Tracey took me under his wing when I was in karting. Because of him, I was able to be around and close to a lot of those Indy car guys and learn a lot. I just always tried to pick up from guys at these road courses when I was growing up until even now. I watched guys like Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon because they were always so good – – to get better from.”

Career Starts: 314
Wins: 1
Top-fives: 10
Top-10s: 49
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: Ernie Cope

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