Rain forced the cancellation of Saturday qualifying at Dover International Speedway, meaning that combined practice times determine the starting order for Sunday’s race. AJ Allmendinger was second fastest in the practice sessions and starts on the outside of row one next to pole setter Jimmie Johnson. Allmendinger and Johnson met with the media as part of the top-three qualifiers press conference.
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE WILL USE THE PRACTICE SPEEDS TO DETERMINE QUALIFYING, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT? “I don’t understand how it matters to Jimmie, the system is the same for you. You are either fastest, or they used to do it on points so you would always start on pole. Not really sure how that is any different for you. For me, I used to be down in the 20’s in points so this actually worked out well. It was good. I feel like we came here and did the Goodyear tire test and this is my favorite track and the one I am best at. We unloaded good yesterday and worked on it a little bit. You really have to figure out when the right time to do a Q run is. We went out there and felt like we put up a really good lap. We were right there with Jimmie and unfortunately he had to cheat and do one extra run to beat my lap. I would like to have gotten qualifying in, but I think with the new system all we want is to control our own destiny instead of having something determined by stuff that was in the past like points. As long as you can control your own destiny you can’t complain. Starting second I am happy with. I feel like the Best Buy Ford is really good in race trim. Hopefully Jimmie and I will duel it out again.”
YOU TWO RACED EACH OTHER PRETTY HARD AT DARLINGTON. WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY HERE? “So Jimmie just gave the political answer huh? My theory is that Jimmie leads more laps than I do, in life, so I don’t start up front a lot and if I can lead a lap or one or two or three it looks good on my stats. So are you going to just let me have the start or what?”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A TOP-FIVE OR WINNING CAR? “Doing the tire test here I felt really good leaving the test. I was really happy with what we did at the test and Mike Shiplett and I sat down and went over a lot of stuff. I felt like we built something good coming here. Honestly, we started out a lot tighter than I expected. Our first run on the race track we were really tight. That was something at the test we didn’t fight a lot. It took us a few runs to get to where we wanted to and both practices, as Jimmie talked about, you have to switch back and forth from qualifying to race trim and do all that stuff. I felt like our car in qualifying trim right away was quick but it took us both practices to get the car to where I felt it was really fast. The whole time I felt like we were good but at that point Jimmie was really quick on race runs and we weren’t quite there. I felt like we kept building on it and got it close. Obviously with all the rain and how it will wash rubber off the track it will be a little different. I feel like at the end of the second practice was the best the car had been in race runs. I guess that is what you want, to end at your best. I don’t know if it is a race winning car because I have never won a race, so I don’t know what a race winning car is right now. I think it is fast. It is a potential race winning car, I just don’t know exactly what that is. We will keep working on it. Jimmie, you have like what, 197 wins or something? What is a race winning car?”