AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion, qualified fourth for tomorrow night’s Bank of America 500. Allmendinger, who currently stands 14th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, spoke about tomorrow night’s race and his goals for the rest of the year.
AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion – YOU MUST FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOW THE WEEKEND HAS STARTED. “So far. Yesterday was just all about qualifying. That’s all we focused on, so with all of these race tracks, especially this one because it’s so fast and so hard to pass, and that’s what we found in the 600 was wherever you pretty much fell on the restart is where you stayed the whole run. So it’s good to start up front. We’ll find out more about how the car is gonna be today, but, overall, I felt like the car was really solid. The guys did a good job. We started off in qualifying trim and the place is so fast that we were a little off, but we kept making it better. We had a chance at the pole, but got a little bit tight in three and four, but with as close as all the lap times were and be right there was a good thing.”
WHAT GOALS DO YOU HAVE NOW? “I think we can stay in the top 15 in points. That would be really good. I feel like at a lot of race tracks we’re pretty solid. We’ve got some good ones coming up and hopefully tomorrow night is a good one for us. Talladega is kind of a crapshoot, but after that we’ve got some decent tracks. Texas will be hit or miss. These higher banked mile-and-a-halves we’ve been better at than the flatter ones, but Phoenix and Martinsville we should be really good and then Homestead will be kind of interesting. I think we still have a chance to get to 13th. Clint is obviously really quick and he’s gonna be up front a lot, but we’re only 20 points back and all of the points are really close. I just want to be consistent. Our biggest problem is that the race tracks we’ve been bad at we’ve been really bad at and Kansas showed that last week. Out of the last three or four races we haven’t been great. We were good at Dover, but, other than that, we’ve kind of struggled. I just think we need to get more consistent overall. If we can finish these six races strong and go into the off-season and figure out where we need to work on – the flatter race tracks, the mile-and-a-halves, Kentucky, Chicago, Kansas, California – if we can get better at those tracks, I think we can be a legitimate top 10 team and then from there it’s just about slowly getting better after that.”
WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO TOMORROW NIGHT AS FAR AS HOW YOU RACE THE CHASE GUYS? “To me, I look at it as they have a lot more to lose than I do, especially the guys that are battling for the championship. If they want to try and take a chance or really get aggressive with you, they know the rights that they have and they know that if something comes back they can lose a lot more. You race people how they race you. You know the mindset about the guys that you can be more aggressive with and that you owe a couple, but, at the same time, we’ve got goals that we’re going out there to achieve and the ultimate goal is to try and finish as high as possible and you can’t do that by wrecking.”
IS IT AN ADVANTAGE TO NOT BE IN THE CHASE AS FAR AS AGGRESSIVENESS LATE IN A RACE IF A WIN IS RIGHT THERE? “It ultimately comes back to the fact that there are still goals. It’s not so much that you have nothing to lose. I don’t want to take a chance and wreck and finish 40th and fall back to 18th in points or something like that. But if there’s a chance to be taken by not pitting or fuel or two tires – something like that – to go out there for a win, you’re more likely to take it. Honestly, that’s how all these races are now. To be quick you have to take chances. Track position is so key. I don’t think it matters whether you’re in the Chase or not, you’ve got to do everything you can to stay up front and that doesn’t change no matter what race you’re in.”