Daytona 500: AJ Allmendinger race report

Promising Day at Daytona Ends in Disappointment for AJ Allmendinger; Leads early after starting from the back of the field Daytona Beach, FL-14 February 2010-With a legendary new car number, a new manufacturer, and a new sponsor on board, AJ ...

Promising Day at Daytona Ends in Disappointment for AJ Allmendinger; Leads early after starting from the back of the field

Daytona Beach, FL-14 February 2010-With a legendary new car number, a new manufacturer, and a new sponsor on board, AJ Allmendinger was looking to get a fast start to the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season with a strong run in the Daytona 500.

Despite having to move the to the back of the pack owing to a motor change, the No. 43 Best Buy Ford was one of the fastest cars on the track, as he powered his way up to the top 30, into 20th, and then just kept on motoring to take the Best Buy Ford right to the front of the pack by lap 46.

After leading, AJ was in the lead pack through a round of pit stops and then was back in the lead on lap 71 on the outside following a restart. But a pit road set back saw AJ deep in the pack once again as the green flag flew. Fighting a car that was fast on its own, but tight in traffic, AJ kept his head down and just kept working away.

After a nearly two-hour stoppage for track repairs, AJ was on the move once again, popping up from 18th to sixth in short order. Unfortunately, the day suffered a bad break as he came off the second corner in close quarters just a bit sideways, and sailed into the superstretch sideways. The weeks of rain since the Rolex 24 did AJ no favors as the No. 43 was stuck in the wet grass, with the motor not able to refire. The trip back to the garage to get going once again cost AJ some 12 laps.

But he's a never say die kind of guy, and after having to visit the medical center and getting the Best Buy Ford Fusion towed back to the garage, he got strapped back in and went back out in 35th, 12 laps down. He took the checkered flag in 32nd place.

"I am not sure if I hit the pothole or what, but the front end planted and I got loose," said AJ. "I was trying to save it, but I was pinned up against the 24 and I didn't want to take us all out so I just spun it to the inside. Unfortunately, when I stopped I couldn't get it refired and get going again. They made me get out of the car and go to medical even though we hadn't hit anything. So that was very frustrating because we lost a lot of laps.

"The car was so fast today. We struggled a little bit when we were in the traffic, but we were able to move up to the front twice today. It was great to lead those laps, but I just wish we were there fighting at the finish for a better spot. You hate to not make the most of the chance when you have a car as fast as the Best Buy Ford was today. We'll just have to make up for it at California next week."

The result was the second tough outcome for AJ at Daytona in a month after also suffering from a late-race setback in the Rolex 24 in the final hour of the event. With the Daytona 500 getting off to such a flying start, AJ was looking to improve on his career-best of third in the Great American Race, but the California native will have to look to get the year going in earnest with a strong run next week at California Speedway in round two of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

-source: ajallmendinger.com

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup