Allmendinger Prepares for 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Start at Brickyard Races to century mark as he kicks off race to the Chase Indianapolis, IN 21 July, 2010- AJ Allmendinger will look to make his 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup a special one as he heads...
Allmendinger Prepares for 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Start at Brickyard
Races to century mark as he kicks off race to the Chase
Indianapolis, IN 21 July, 2010- AJ Allmendinger will look to make his 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup a special one as he heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 this weekend with the No. 43 Valvoline Ford Fusion for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Allmendinger aims to continue his strong mid-season form, which has seen him and crew chief Mike Shiplett bring home top-fifteen finishes in seven of the last eight races. The Brickyard could be an ideal track for that run to continue, as AJ led the race and scored a big top ten finish in 2008.
After checking off nearly every accomplishment box set up for him in open-wheel racing, Allmedinger moved into the NASCAR ranks with some exploratory runs in the 2006 Camping World Truck Series before Red Bull moved him to the Sprint Cup Series full time in 2007. At least it was meant to be full time, as the rookie team, partnered with a rookie manufacturer, didn't have the points to guarantee a spot on the grid week in and week out. Adding to the up hill battle was the fact that AJ had arrived for Speedweeks at Daytona in 2007 with less than 50 laps in a stock car to his credit.
But AJ was only focused on success, and his natural talent saw him gain momentum on the track as he learned his way around the NASCAR world. As he moved to a new organization that was also experiencing a change in dynamics, AJ kept his focus inside the cockpit, and also on the radio with (Mike) Shiplett, and the combination continues to grow and develop under the watchful, if always shaded, eyes of The King.
Allmendinger is not one to miss the details, but even he was a little surprised to see he was headed for his first century mark this weekend.
"I was really surprised that we are already at 100, especially considering how much we struggled to make races that first season," said AJ as he prepared to make an appearance at a local Best Buy store. "It shows how much racing you do in NASCAR for us to reach this number so quickly. It's cool that it is happening at the Brickyard."
The early struggles not only helped strengthen Allmendinger's resolve, it also gave him a different perspective on his career.
"I feel as though I'm in the best position that I've been in since starting in NASCAR. We've had this run of strong results, and we've moved to where a bad day is running in the top fifteen, and not getting up to a top ten finish at the end of the day. Before, a bad day really was a bad day and I would end up 32nd. So I'm really excited about where we are, and more so about just keeping this momentum and improving--working to make those eleventh place finishes a seventh, and just closing every race out as strong as we can and having more good days."
While he has a pole, a third place finish in the Daytona 500, and eleven top-10 finishes to his credit, Allmendinger feels as though the best is yet to come.
"I would have like to have accomplished more by this point, but to even get to 100 starts I think is a good thing considering the start we had here and given everything that I've gone through the last few years. I'm excited about the future--we are not there yet, but we are right on the edge of where we need to be."
Allmendinger's enthusiasm is always closely coupled with his competitive outlook, and he's highly optimistic about this weekend.
"This track has meant so much to me ever since I was really young, so to have this 100th start happen at Indy is that much cooler, and Mike has a great car for us this weekend," said AJ. "The FR9 motors continue to be developed and make good power, which will be key this weekend."
The race also sets the stage for a dramatic seven-race run to set the grid for the Chase as Allmendinger looks to move up from 22nd in the points standings ahead of the Brickyard race outing.
-source: walldinger racing