A.J. Allmendinger goes in search of Indianapolis glory with JTG

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A.J. Allmendinger has raced at Indy in both open-wheel and stock cars.

Learning the true meaning of Indy: “At one point, I lost a little bit of what Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) was all about, but later I realized what it truly meant and how lucky I am to be able to race there,” Allmendinger said. “It was kind of full circle for me last year.  I went to the Brickyard for the first time in 2007 when I was trying to make the race with Red Bull. I was like I get what everybody talks about Indy and what it is all about. I had been there for a qualifying day during an Indy 500 experience. I had been there for an F1 race when they did the Red Bull shootout. To me, I know Indy is a big deal, but at the time it was still not that big of a deal to me to a certain degree because I grew up at the time of the split. But, when I pulled out into Gasoline Alley in a Cup car for the first time, I was like, ‘Okay, I think I understand now and I get what it’s all about.

“I didn’t make the Cup race the first time, but the next year walking out into the crowd and being introduced I was like, ‘Okay this is what Indy is all about,’" continued Allmendinger. "Then I went back there with Roger Penske last year to race the Indy 500 and I was like, ‘Oh this is what Indy is all about.’ It was just an unreal experience. To run the Indy 500 was such a dream come true. The experience alone to do it with Roger Penske with leading laps and having a legitimate shot to win the race showed me what being at Indy was all about. It made me appreciate it more when I went back there for the Cup race last year when I was running for the No. 51 team. It was like, ‘I know what that place is all about now.’ It kind of came full circle and I realized what it truly meant to be at Indy. Now, I'm looking forward to going back with JTG Daugherty Racing and racing the No. 47 Kingsford Chevrolet SS with a deep appreciation for the place."

Balance and rhythm: “Indy will be a tough place to get our Kingsford Chevrolet SS to turn and not over rotate,” Allmendinger said. “Turn 1, you are just going so fast and that corner comes up quick and invites you to drive in too deep. It’s about flow. Turn 2 is loose in, but critical to get back to power. Turn 3 is the most wide open corner with a lot of grip and the most speed in. Turn 4, when you get off the corner, it gets loose on exit. Indy is a rhythm place. Being up front is critical because in traffic handling is worse. When you are up front, it makes the race easier to call and drive. It’s just so tough when you are in traffic.” 
 
New car: “We will have a new No. 47 Kingsford Chevrolet SS to race this weekend,” Allmendinger said. “Hopefully, we can work through the weekend and have a smooth one. We are focused on getting back to maximizing the weekend and getting everything you can out of qualifying and the race and then take it as it comes. We are looking to get the best finish we can get at Indy.”

Prestige: “Indy is a place where you always want to run better because there is so much prestige,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “Everyone makes an extra effort and everybody brings their good stuff to showcase. We’re doing the same thing and are focused on having a good showing and end result. We had an off weekend, which was nice and we are all relaxed and recharged. We have got a second breath for the second-half of the season and we have high hopes.”

Homecoming: “Indy is special for me because I spent a lot of my earlier years there and I have lots of friends and family there,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “It will be a nice visit with them because I haven’t seen them in a while. I used to live right by the speedway. I spent a lot of time there. It means a lot to be on the other side of the grandstands and have a job in racing. I know what being on the outside feels like and what it feels like to be on the inside at a place that has as much prestige. I lived there for a few years because I went to college at IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis).”

JTG Daugherty Racing's first Cup start was Indy: “I remember that day vividly and the week before trying to go and make that race,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. “We went to the Brickyard knowing we had to race our way in. We were all on pins and needles. It was a big effort to be a part of the crown jewels. Tad (Geschickter) and I sat there on the frontstretch watching Marcos Ambrose tooling around for his first qualifying lap and then second lap. And, we looked at each other and thought we were good. At the time, we were inside the top 20 (started 24th) and we knew we had made the race. It was a big day for us being a single-car team and we went on to finish 22nd.  We have come full circle. We haven’t run well there in the past and we have really struggled. It’s a track the big boys bring their best stuff. You will figure out who will be in the hunt for the championship this weekend because it takes the best aero, engines and cars. We knew we couldn’t compete over the years, but the cars we brought were decent. This year is a different story and we are re-energized with the help from RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and what they bring power wise. With their power and our driver AJ Allmendinger, we are looking for a special weekend. We know the Hendrick guys and Penske are on their game and we are looking to find our place. It’s a treat for us to be there and we are looking forward to running well.”

Testing Watkins Glen: “We tested at Watkins Glen International last year and it really helped and we are looking forward to testing again on Monday and Tuesday,” Allmendinger said. “We tested at Sonoma Raceway and it showed it helped. So, we’re doing the same for Watkins Glen. We will run through a plan and have a good baseline. We know the track will not be the same when we go back, but we are looking to find a good balance to make sure when we get there, we have some good ideas to work through practice. It’s pretty basic. Testing Watkins Glen is all about getting a good balance and good ideas for the car when we go back in a few weeks.”

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Drivers A.J. Allmendinger
Article type Previews