NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 26, 2014
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 HUNGRY JACK / ACME CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed moving to the next round of the Chase, racing at Dover, racing at Kansas, the new 2015 rules package and other topics. Full transcript:
TALK ABOUT BEING 10TH IN POINTS, AND WHAT IT WILL TAKE HERE AT DOVER TO MOVE ON TO THE NEXT ROUND OF THE CHASE:
“For us, and for me, it isn’t a different outlook. No one really expected us to be here anyway, and to have a shot at making it to the next round. So, I’m just going to go out there and give it everything I have. For us, we just have to run better. Last week was a decent run, but more than anything we just have to go out there this weekend and try to make sure we maximize every lap we are on the race track, and get our car good for Sunday. Whatever happens in the race happens. I’m not going to worry about who is around me in points or anything like that. I just want to go out there and give everything I have, and if at the end of the day if it is enough to make it to the next round, then great. If not, that is all we can do.”
DOVER HAS BEEN A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU. HOW WAS YOUR CAR IN JUNE, AND WHAT IS YOUR ANTICIPATION OF SUNDAY?
“In the past it was a pretty good race track for me. In the last couple of years, when I have been here, I haven’t been too good. I felt like the first race, we had a decent car. We were running 13th or 14th and we pitted under green, and the caution came out and we got caught two laps down the rest of the race. From there we couldn’t get our laps back. I thought the car was okay, but at the same time, a lot has changed since then, so, I feel like over the last few weeks we have learned a lot when it comes to what our race car needs. What I need to be faster around these race tracks. We will just see how the weekend plays out. I think the toughest thing is when the track goes from Saturday to Sunday, it changes a lot. We will just keep that in mind. I feel like if we get the car right, we will have a good shot at it.”
WHAT KIND OF A CHALLENGE HAS KANSAS SPEEDWAY BEEN FOR YOU?
“Kansas is a lot like the other mile-and-a-half in general. Really the repaves…you get there, and on Friday and Saturday the track has a ton of speed in it and it is really fast. You aren’t out of the throttle a lot. It makes it tough because you set your car up for those conditions, and then Sunday whether it is cooler out, or whatever. The Nationwide rubber, the Truck rubber, whatever has been racing before us on Saturday, it just seems like when they drop the green on Sunday the track really gets slickened up, and the repaves (tracks with new surface) have really been bad with that. I think it makes it tough because Friday and Saturday it is all about speed, and you aren’t out of the throttle a lot. Sunday, no matter what the conditions are, especially if it is sunny out and the track has sat there all morning in the sun, you drop the green, it is just way different. It happened at Chicago as well. Even though it was still cool like it had been all weekend, it is just the way the repaves are in general. It makes it tough to setup for, but it is a fun race track.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW RULES PACKAGE?
“I haven’t really looked that deep into them. I’ve been kind of focused on this weekend. And the next eight races that are ahead of us. Just looking at them a little bit, taking away downforce is good. I’m not sure if I’m happy about taking away horsepower. I think that remains to be seen if it will make the racing better. But I think anything we can do just to soften the tires up a little bit, and take downforce away so the cars move around a little bit more. You are out of the throttle more. I think the thing I wonder about with the horsepower down is will it make us be out of the throttle anymore, or will it be like a Nationwide car to where you almost wide open around the rest. I think that is my question. The track-bar stuff is pretty cool, if we get it right to where you can adjust it in the car. I think that will help racing a lot. So stuff like that. I think there are some good things. The best thing is that NASCAR knows we are trying to make the racing better. They have listened to us. We’ll see. It will be interesting to see how much we get to test actually since there is no testing. But, we will worry about that next year.”
HOW IS YOUR NEW APPROACH TO THINGS HELPING WITH THE CHASE STRUCTURE?
“The way I look at it now, I think more than ever, with this race team whether it is because it is a single-car team. We work so hard. We have a lot of great partners. We are a small team. We don’t have the biggest budget in the world. Tad and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty, but especially Tad and Jodi, this is their lives when it comes to it. When it comes to putting pressure on myself from what you guys (media) think, I could care less honestly. Most of you have written bad stuff about me, and most of you have written good stuff about me. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. When it comes to the race team, I care more than I ever have because I feel like it is my team. I see on a daily basis what Tad and Jodi go through to make sure, not just me, but all of us on this race team, have what we need to go out there and be at our best. Because of that, I take everything to heart, whether we run well, or run bad. I take it personally. I think when it comes to pressure, there’s still more than ever that I put on my shoulders because I want to be at my best. But it is for so many different reasons now. I just care about this team so much, and what Tad and Jodi have done for me on a personal side, just the relationship I’ve built with them, and to be part of their family…that is what I take to heart, and I want to go out there and run as good as I can. If we could make it to the next round, what that would do for this race team energy-wise; for our sponsors; all that comes with it. I put a lot of pressure on myself for that. But when it comes to the outside world, it has no effect on my life.”
HOW HAS THE SWITCH TO RCR EQUIPMENT HELPED YOUR TEAM?
“Especially this year with the new ride-height rule, and the rules package that we had this year, I think it was a big deal just because the setups change so much. Without that alliance, like last year, the team was trying to do it on their own merit and no notes from anyone else, and you learn as you go. We would be so far behind this year. So to have that RCR alliance…the ECR engine shop side of it just from Daytona to now has gotten so much better, and they keep working hard to find more horsepower, and where we need that horsepower. Just to have that relationship with Chevy has been a big deal to us. I think for us, the biggest deal is to maximize the relationship. And that’s as us as a race team, has really been the biggest struggle because we don’t have the capability in a certain way with enough people to maximize all the info we are consistently are getting from each weekend, or throughout the week to get ready for the race. That is something we are getting better at. I feel like the last couple of weeks my crew chief, Brian Burns and my engineer Tony Palmer they have come to the race track more prepared than I have ever seen them. We’re getting better at it, but without that relationship, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
GIVEN YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF TEAM PENSKE, ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THE SUCCESS BY BRAD (KESELOWSKI) AND JOEY (LOGANO) ARE HAVING?
“No…over the last couple of years, obviously with Brad winning the championship in 2012, I think the new car maybe threw them a little bit at the beginning of last year. That is where a little bit of struggle was, but at the end of the year, even though Brad didn’t make the Chase, he was still one of the best guys in the Chase. And Joey has a chance at it if he didn’t blow up at Chicago. So coming into this year, it doesn’t surprise me at all how good they are. Brad and Joey are great drivers and they are surrounded by a great organization. It gives us something to reach for, and we are all trying to beat them.”