AJ Goes Racing for Riley at Eldora
Racing for Riley at Eldora as AJ Shows He's Got Something for the Dirt
Rossburg, OH 10 June, 2010- NASCAR Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger took the famed Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 to the dirt track this Wednesday night as he raced in the Prelude to the Dream to help raise money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
This year's Prelude saw the cream of the crop from a huge variety of racing disciplines ("Travis Pastrana, meet Ron Caps..."), and featured a new twist as drivers not only raced for their own overall win, but they were also split into teams to raise the stakes for the charities that were beneficiaries of the huge one-night event.
AJ was part of the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis squad, with other teams looking to help Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Last year marked AJ's debut in the dirt, and it flat out did not go well. AJ's dirt-induction saw him learn some quick lessons as he jumped headfirst into this new discipline. But this year AJ was with Jeff Smith Racing, and he arrived with a much better better idea of exactly what he was getting into.
And that showed. After AJ took 15th on the 28-car grid in qualifying against some guys who had done this all their lives. In the heat races, AJ went even faster as he delivered the highest finish for Team Riley, taking him third at the checkered flag. That saw him lining up in 11th place start for the main.
At the drop of the green (once it came...took three restarts to get the first real green flag lap in!) AJ worked the bottom line to move up to sixth.
That forward progress was eventually stalled, though, as AJ learned another lesson about dirt. Sometimes the hot tires, wet mud, and the heat cycles of a yellow flag can make a tire "gel" (as they call it in the dirt biz). What it means is there just no grip out of the back and after yet another mid-race restart, AJ just couldn't get the ActiVewater/Insignia beast to turn in.
"I have to say I had a lot of fun tonight and we definitely improved over last year's performance!" said AJ, bringing home the second-highest finish for Team Riley in 11th. "It's not the finish we wanted for Team Riley, but hats off to our team captain Clint (Bowyer) for getting the pole and finishing second in the main. It's unfortunate the rest of our team struggled with getting collected in some of the craziness. Thanks to ActiVewater, Best Buy, Insignia, and all the folks at Jeff Smith Racing for letting us come out here and put on a good show and raising some money."
AJ Brought the ActiVewater/Insiginia machine home a little bit dirty, but without a scratch.
Please visit www.RileyChildrensHospital.com to find out how you can help.
After spending some time on Thursday meeting with some of the friendly folks at Ford, AJ will be back in action with the No. 43 Ford Fusion this weekend starting with Friday's practice at Michigan International Speedway for Sunday's race.
-source: aja PR