MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 31, 2017
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KROGER CLICKLIST CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed the teams early season performance, how potentially not getting practice in today at Martinsville might impact his team, getting his crew chief Randall Burnett back this weekend and many other topics. Full Transcript:
WHAT IS IT ABOUT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY THAT SUITS YOUR DRIVING STYLE?
“I think it’s a race track that when I first started I had no clue how to get around and just over the years trying to learn the techniques. It’s somewhat like a road course in the sense of the way you brake and some of the stuff you can do with the throttle and things like that. A driver can make a bit of a difference here, so more than anything just trying to learn the techniques. You still have to have a great race car. The last couple of years we’ve had a good set-up and been able to use it to have some pretty good runs. It’s just a tough race. It’s one of those races that you can’t really let your guard down mentally for 500 laps. Anything can happen, usually get a late-race restart, so a race track that has been tough, but over the last couple of years has been really good for us and hopefully can have another good run because we definitely need it.”
DO THINK THAT DRIVERS ARE GOING TO FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE MORE LICENSE TO DO SOMETHING HERE THAN THEY NORMALLY WOULD BASED ON THE LACK OF PENALTIES FROM INCIDENTS AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS SEASON?
“I don’t think I have a license to do anything. It’s one of those things I don’t really try to think about. We just focus on trying to get better each weekend. I have never really looked into how they penalize or why the penalize and the differences. I don’t know maybe my last name is not the right name, maybe that is why I got penalized so hard. But in the end, you can’t control it. You just go do your job. For our race team, I thought the West Coast we learned a lot of stuff, although the results maybe didn’t show it. Fontana, we had a better run, but stuff happens. You can only do what you can do and try to get better. That is what we are trying to do right now is focus on that. We know we are in a big hole. The good thing is we don’t have to look at points because we know we are really far down in them, so we’ve just got to go out there and get some good finishes and hopefully get a win.”
HOW DO YOU THINK STAGE RACING IS GOING TO AFFECT THINGS AT THE ROAD COURSES?
“I haven’t even really looked at what the stages look like at Sonoma, so when we get to Sonoma a place like that kind of look at what those stages are and how that is going to play out for tires. Sonoma, especially, is always that argument between a two or three stop race. So, I think that probably takes that away at least because you know when you are going to have a caution at least when it comes to stages. I will worry about that when we get there. Tires at Sonoma are always going to be important. Trying to maintain the rear tires, kind of like here at Martinsville, the same thing. That is not going to really change how you race. You know that you’ve got to save the rear tires and if you can do that you are going to have a pretty good race car, but when it comes to Sonoma when we get there I will kind of worry about that.”
HAVE YOU USED A BIOMETRIC DEVICE?
“That is too much technology for me. No, I know when it’s hot in the race car. I can tell you that. I can tell you my body is real hot. At Phoenix, it was really hot. I haven’t gotten to that type of technology yet.”
IF YOU GUYS DON’T GET ON THE TRACK TODAY DOES THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE? DOES IT MAKE A BIGGER DIFFERENCE AT A PLACE LIKE MARTINSVILLE RATHER THAN A PLACE LIKE TEXAS?
“I’m going to tell you we really are going to need to practice at Texas, just throwing that out there (laughs). No, I’m more wanting to get on the race track to qualify. I don’t want to start 30th on Sunday. That is a bigger deal. I think it really comes down to tomorrow, at least when I looked at it, it looks pretty good. Martinsville is a place, usually, that Friday practice is … yeah you can run laps for race trim, but you are really focused on outright qualifying and this place doesn’t really rubber up until you get some heat in the race track and you get a lot of cars on Saturday. I don’t think if we didn’t practice today is going to mess up kind of race trim practice because you don’t really get a general idea of what your car is going to do until about halfway through Saturday when the rubber finally kind of starts to build up and being a new right-side tire from what I’ve heard you’ve got to really figure out if it is going to rubber up. We have had tires here in the past that really build rubber on the race track. We have had times where the track looks clear and it just kind of powders. I think that is more… Saturday is used for that. For our race team, I want to get on the race track to be able to try to qualify.”
DO YOU THINK GOING TO TWO TEAMS HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE TEAMS PERFORMANCE WOES THIS SEASON?
“You would probably have to ask Tad (Geschickter) and Ernie (Cope, Competition Director) and get a general idea of inside the shop. I don’t think so. I think it’s more this aero package. For a team like ours, every time NASCAR changes the aero package it’s tough because we don’t have any wind tunnel time really. At times, we are going out there and testing and that is kind of what the last three weeks have been is really trying to test and figure out what type of set-up this aero package is. To me, at least for our race team, this package is way different than the last couple of years where they took off some downforce, but it seemed like generally the set-up was still the same. This aero package seems so front heavy on downforce compared to rear even though they have taken off both ends. They have taken a lot off the rear and that is where for our race cars we have really struggled is figuring out that happy medium of still having some rear grip in the race car, but getting it to turn through the middle of the corners. Every car has been brand new. It’s not like we are using older stuff because we brought in a second car. Both sets of teams have brand new race cars. Tad and Jodi have put the effort in. We have great sponsors. I think it’s just this aero package and us not having any wind tunnel time to figure it out. We are having to figure it out on the fly on the race track. As I said, the West Coast swing results wise was not great, but what we learned from basically Atlanta to last week was a big difference in set-up. That is what we are working hard on and trying to figure out. Bu in the end both of our cars have been about the same. Chris (Buescher) and I… it’s been nice for me with struggling to have Chris there to be able to bounce ideas off of him and see what he feels. That has helped a lot for me in general. We both just have to be better. To me I think the field has gotten tougher throughout the middle of the field if you look at it. Adding a Furniture Row car has built another car in there, obviously, Ganassi is a lot faster this year, the Roush car has gotten better, so everybody has just stepped up. We need to do the same and keep fighting and really just keep grinding away. That is what is tough about it you’ve got to keep grinding and just keep getting better.”
FIVE RACES INTO THE SEASON THE EYEBALL TEST OF THE NEW AERO PACKAGE IS NOT LOOKING VERY GOOD. WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE NASCAR MAKE POTENTIALLY LATER IN THE YEAR OR FOR NEXT YEAR?
“I would just like them to stop changing stuff. It’s tough on us. I thought way at the end of last year I think we had six top 10’s in eight races and we had finally kind of gotten a feel of the aero package of what we needed and had some good race cars when it came to set-up and knowing how we wanted to set them up and they keep changing. I think that is what’s tough here. Right away we all jump to conclusions that ‘oh it’s not good enough we’ve got to change again.’ You’ve just got to give teams time. The bigger teams, every time you change an aero package the bigger teams are going to succeed in that because they have the wind tunnel time. You would think it would bring the field closer everybody starting over again, well it just separates the field even more because the bigger teams have the more resources to go wind tunnel test and figure out the aero package a lot quicker than other teams do. It’s five races, we all just need to calm down a little bit and give it a whole year and see if it’s working or not and then make a decision after that, but we don’t need to jump to that conclusion after five races.”
YOU ARE GETTING YOUR CREW CHIEF RANDALL BURNETT BACK AFTER BEING WITHOUT HIM THE LAST THREE RACES. WHAT KIND OF AN IMPACT IS IT WHEN THE CREW CHIEF ISN’T THERE?
“The bigger race teams definitely have more resources and more people inside to fill those places up. Randall being out was a difficult challenge, but Ernie Cope did a fantastic job. Obviously, Ernie has got the experience level to know how to do it. I felt like over those three races our practices went really well. The stuff that we learned was good throughout those three races. So, having Randall back is definitely going to help, but I didn’t feel like we were hindered a lot, like that was the reason that we struggled was the fact that just Randall wasn’t there. We are just struggling because we haven’t figured out the aero package yet. It’s going to be nice to have him back and for sure allow him to get back to the race track. You could kind of see back at the shop he was kind of chomping at the bit. This is a place that he loves. We have had good success here. This race track, just to him personally, means a lot, so I think this is a good race track for him to come back at.”
HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE WAS IT NOT TO BE ABLE TO HAVE THAT FACE-TO-FACE ON-SITE DIALOGUE?
“He definitely kept up with it and I was able to call him after every session and kind of talk to him about it. But you know when Ernie was running it, it was Ernie’s race car. He was setting it up, he was doing what he wanted and Ernie did an amazing job honestly. We have learned a lot in the three races. I know it’s tough to see on the outside and heck sometimes on the inside it’s tough to see when you just look at the result, but what Ernie did and all of the stuff that we were able to try in three races and at least get an idea of which direction to go we accomplished a lot of things that we needed to accomplish to carry us hopefully for the next 15-20 races. It’s nice to have him back, but I will just say that wasn’t our issue of where we were running.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COMING HERE?
“It’s just a fun race track. It’s unique it’s like a track that we don’t go to, so anytime you can go to a race track like that for me is a lot of fun. It’s a challenge. The fan base here is awesome. We get a big crowd here all the time they are passionate about NASCAR racing when we come here. It shows how much they appreciate us being here and hopefully we show how much we appreciate the fans for showing up just for the great racing that we try to put on. It’s just a unique place. I love telling people, friends of mine that have never been to a race or who have only been to a couple and I’m like you have to come here because you don’t really get the just of it on TV until you walk in and see how tiny this is, but how you pack 40 race cars on it, how you pack so many people into it and just the history of it. I didn’t know much about this place when I first started in NASCAR racing and once I learned how to get around it, quickly appreciated it for what this sport has meant to this race track and more importantly what this race track has meant to the sport.”
YOU DROVE FOR RICHARD PETTY HE IS STILL COMING TO THE TRACK. DOES IT SURPRISE YOU AT ALL THAT HE IS STILL COMING TO THE TRACK? WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THAT TEAM TO HAVE HIM AT THE TRACK EACH WEEK?
“I remember asking Richard, I said ‘why do you do this every weekend? Every weekend, why are you here?’ I never really thought of it until he said it was the fact he said what else have I ever done in my life? I mean this is all I’ve ever done since I was born is come to a race track. He was like I have nothing else to do. It was kind of eerie the way he said it, but he was like ‘if I don’t come here what do I do just sit at home and pass away?’ This is the way that he stays alive and I appreciated that and I didn’t really think about it until he said it the way he said it. It means a lot to that race team. When Richard shows up you can see everybody else kind of just… they get a little bit more up and doing their job. Just having ‘The King’ there knowing he has done it all and everything that he probably could be doing other than this and he still shows up to the race track every weekend, him and Dale (Inman) both. It’s cool to always see him here. I think everybody in the garage, whether you’ve worked for him before or you have never worked for him, just seeing ‘The King’ walk through the garage every weekend is pretty special for the sport and we appreciate it.”