AJ Allmendinger behind the wheel of No.47 Toyota Camry on Michigan 400

AJ Allmendinger welcomes opportunity to drive for JTG Daugherty Racing at Michigan International Speedway (MIS)

AJ Allmendinger has 10 starts at Michigan International Speedway. His best finish is 11th-place (twice, 6/13/10 and 8/21/11) and has led one lap. His average start is 25.100 and his average finish is 21.000.


AJ Allmendinger welcomes opportunity to drive for JTG Daugherty Racing at Michigan International Speedway (MIS): "Between Tad Geschickter, Bobby Hutchens, Brad Daugherty and myself, we sat down and talked about where the team was at and what their interest was in me and if I had any interest in driving their race car," AJ Allmendinger said.

A.J. Allmendinger, Team Penske Chevrolet
A.J. Allmendinger, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

"From there it was small talks and text messages about what they wanted to do and it worked into me driving for them at Michigan International Speedway. We're doing a total of five races together just for another opinion to help their team. It is spread amongst the next several months of the season.

It's also a great opportunity for me to get in a different car as I continue to see how I feel with the Gen-6 car. More than anything, I hope I can help JTG Daugherty Racing to give them some ideas as a whole and hopefully they become better from it. It's going to be good for me, I love driving these cars."

Glad to be back at MIS: "The biggest thing for me about Michigan International Speedway is that they did a really good job with the repave last year," AJ Allmendinger said. "This is a really good opportunity for me to be with a new team and a team that's wanting to do the right things to get better.

I'm not saying jumping in will make it better, but I'm hoping to provide some additional feedback that helps. I really like the effort of the team. Also, it's cool to see where I'm at with this new car and it is a different perspective in a way. This team is trying to really improve and at the same time I can see where I'm at as well. I have a good outlook on it."

Pleased to help JTG Daugherty Racing: “I have raced for Phoenix Racing some this year and feel confident I'll be able to provide JTG Daugherty Racing with a good comparison," AJ Allmendinger said. "I’m thankful for this opportunity to work with the team and Bobby (Labonte).”

Allmendinger: "There are a couple things I really like about AJ Allmendinger" JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "He is going to qualify your car if you give him a car that's capable. He will go out and push the button and qualify the car no doubt about it. If the car is off, you are going to know it. Another thing I like is sticking him in at Watkins Glen International.

I'm a huge road racing fan and AJ is a tremendous road-racer. I think it will give us an opportunity for a good finish having him behind the wheel. He's very hungry and passionate. I like where he's at. He's got a lot to prove. He's made some mistakes and everybody is watching him. He's contrite. I spent some time with him the other day and this young man realizes he messed up and his opportunities are hanging by a thread to continue his career.

This gives us a chance to have a driver that's capable and fast to come in to give us his opinion. We will take the information and apply it. It's not unseating Bobby Labonte. We want to help Bobby, but we feel like we can't help him if he's in the car every week and we are beating on this thing and trying to figure it out and we are getting the same results no matter what we do. I feel like this can be applicable as far as helping us perform better. This a great opportunity for us."

Chemistry: "We have good people, smart people and if we don't run in the top-20 I'm disappointed," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "We do run the risk of upsetting the chemistry, but we owe it to our employees at JTG Daugherty Racing to give them the best shot to help our team evolve.

Our guys love Bobby Labonte and respect what he brings to the race team, but we also want to see if there is a different direction we need to go with our race cars. We think the information from AJ Allmendinger will be important to us moving forward."

Gut-check: "This change is a gut-check situation for us," co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "Being a former professional athlete, when I go to the track, I want to compete, I want to be competitive, I want to be in the hunt and I want to be in the conversation in a positive way. I try to be realistic. I know the parameters that are set around our race team, but I also believe there are days when we can really outperform our expectations.

I'm not seeing that enough out of our race team right now. It's a reality check for our racing organization. We need to see what we are made of and test ourselves against ourselves. We know the competition, what they bring, what they have and what we are up against. We need to see what's going on inside our four walls to see what will make us better or if this is as good as we can be. This is an opportunity to find out who we are and what we are made of."

Benchmarking: "It's truly a benchmarking opportunity and not an unseating of Bobby Labonte," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "It's just simply that we are going to utilize AJ Allmendinger's abilities and talents and much thanks to Roger Penske, who has given him this opportunity to come over and help us.

We thought he would be a good fit because his style is very aggressive. We need a little more information on these cars. We have the ability to work with AJ and utilize the information and feedback he will provide us with. With our Dell equipment in place at JTG Daugherty Racing that will allow us to process AJ's feedback at a fast level and digest the information so it can be best implemented within the team."

Conversations with Labonte: "It was a very difficult conversation to have with Bobby (Labonte) about AJ (Allmendinger) driving five races for us," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "I would have been disappointed in Bobby if he wasn't disappointed about all this. I'm a huge Bobby Labonte fan on and off the track. He has tremendous character, he's a professional and a champion of our sport.

Bobby is one of the true class acts throughout the sport and has been for the last 25 years. He wasn't excited about getting out of the race car because he's working hard to do the best that he can. He understands the fulfillment of data for us and what we need to do in order to grow. At the end of the day, he's been trying to help us for the past three seasons. As we look at it, we are starting to get progressively worse.

With this new race car, we just don't have enough information to take a step in a different direction. Bobby was disappointed, but at the end of the day we have a lot of a respect for him as a race car driver, as a champion, but most of all as a person. We are looking at Bobby Labonte being a part of our organization long-term no matter what we do. I want to see him be successful. Hopefully, this will help him gain some success, gain some information, gain some knowledge that he can apply when he's in the race car and make us better overall.

We want to be there to race and be competitive. We've got 50 to 60 people in our organization that we owe this too because they work really hard to get us prepared to go to the track each week. We feel like it's time to take advantage of the opportunity. After we get through the tough times, the results will be positive. Again, it was a tough conversation to have with him no doubt about it. I hope he gets in that No. 51 car and has a strong run on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway."

Defying the odds as a single-car team: "You cannot do this as a single-car entity and have a huge amount of success," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "We want to be successful. We want to be competitive. I had a long talk with Ray Evernham and he was getting on me a little bit because he said, 'You guys do a decent job for a single-car team. You are getting aggravated with yourselves, but look at what you are fighting against.'

I understand that, but being competitive is crucial. Tad and Jodi Geschickter and myself, want to punch above our weight every weekend if we can. This gives us a great opportunity to see where we are at and what we need to fix because we are going to fix some stuff. We want to race hard and we want to be in the mix each weekend. We are realistic. We know where we are capable of finishing. Right now, we just don't feel like we are finishing where we are capable."

Our partners: “At the end of the day, the name of the game is to provide value to our sponsors,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. “We are realistic about our position in the garage as a single-car operation. However, we have always been able to punch above our weight to deliver a great value to our partners on and off the track. We have not been doing that with the new car and this move is an additional step in determining what areas we need to work on to improve our performance."

Labonte returns at Sonoma: "We look forward to having Bobby Labonte back in the car at Sonoma Raceway," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "Hopefully, we will be able to utilize the information we learn each week between these two guys even though AJ (Allmendinger) is going to be in there a limited time to help build our program."

JTG Daugherty Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , A.J. Allmendinger , Ray Evernham , Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske , JTG Daugherty Racing , Phoenix Racing
Article type Preview
Tags allmendinger, jtg daugherty racing, michigan 400, nascar-cup