AJ ALLMENDINGER TO DRIVE THE NO. 00 CHAMPION MORTGAGE TOYOTA FOR MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY CORNELIUS, N.C. (October 6, 2008) -- Today Michael Waltrip Racing is proud to announce that AJ Allmendinger will attempt to qualify...
AJ ALLMENDINGER TO DRIVE THE NO. 00 CHAMPION MORTGAGE TOYOTA FOR MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY
CORNELIUS, N.C. (October 6, 2008) -- Today Michael Waltrip Racing is proud to announce that AJ Allmendinger will attempt to qualify the No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota Camry at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 Saturday night.
"I look forward to it and I think this is a great opportunity," Allmendinger said. "Over the past couple of months the organization has really picked up with how everyone has been running. Hopefully, I can go out there and do a good job and get the No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota team back inside the top 35."
This past weekend Kenny Wallace recorded the team's best finish of the season by crossing the finish line in 12th-place at Talladega Superspeedway. Now, it is Allmendinger's turn to strap into the No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota for the first time on Thursday for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice and then qualifying.
Allmendinger knows the team is only 39 points shy of 35th-place in the owner points. The coveted position is currently occupied by Robby Gordon, who finished eighth on Sunday. Allmendinger's crew chief, Peter Sospenzo, feels good about their chances of reclaiming a top 35 spot.
"Finishing 12th with Kenny was the strongest finish we have had and that was nice, but at the same time Robby Gordon had a little better finish than we did so we didn't gain any points on him," said Sospenzo. "Obviously we are looking forward to going to Lowe's Motor Speedway because we had a productive test there. We were good in qualifying and race trim. We feel confident about going back. AJ's a good driver and we know he can get everything out of the car."
This season, Allmendinger has qualified inside the top five two times and six times in the top 10 in 21 starts. His career-best finish is ninth-place recently at Kansas Speedway driving the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry entry.
During the May race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Allmendinger started 27th and finished 20th.
"We didn't do as well as we liked, but we were pretty fast," Allmendinger said. "I feel comfortable around Lowe's Motor Speedway because it is a track that I have been able to race around a lot in my career. I feel like missing the test doesn't make a big difference."
Michael Waltrip Racing's decided to make a driver change with the No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota Camry after the team failed to qualify with Michael McDowell for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway. The objective remains the same and that is to qualify on time and return the Michael Waltrip Racing team to the top 35 before the checkered flag waves at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"Our singular focus with the #00 team is to reposition the team in the top 35 in owner's points and be there in end," Waltrip said. "The decision for us to continue to make changes is about our organization. Kenny Wallace did a tremendous job for us at Talladega and recorded the team's best finish of the season. I know AJ will do a great job for us too in our Toyota Camrys.
"We're still closely evaluating the remaining Cup races," Waltrip continued. "We're moving in the direction of having multiple drivers based on their experiences at particular tracks."