CHEVY MENCS AT CHARLOTTE ROVAL: AJ Allmendinger Post Qualifying Press Conf. Transcript

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
BANK OF AMERICAN ROVAL 400
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROVAL
TEAM CHEVY POST QUALIFYING DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 28, 2018

AJ ALLMENDINGER GIVES CAMARO ZL1 FRONT ROW START AT CHARLOTTE

EIGHT TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS QUALIFY IN TOP 12 FOR THE ROVAL 400

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CONCORD, NC (September 28, 2018) – AJ Allmendinger was second quick in road-racing-style qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race, Round 29 on the 2018 tour. Allmendinger posted a lap speed of 106.811mph in his No. 47 Kroger Clicklist Camaro ZL1, and will start on the outside front row at the new 17-turn, 2.28-mile road course, which includes a portion of the existing oval. The run marks Allmendinger’s second top five and third top-10 start thus far this year.

“I can nit-pick and say I lost a little bit (of speed) in every corner, but I could have tried to find that little bit and been in the fence, as well,” said Allmendinger. “This race is going to be all about minimizing mistakes like we’ve seen in practice. One little mistake and you’re going to tear up your race car. Yeah, it was close but in practice I was terrible. But, Trent (Owens, crew chief) the boys went to work on this Kroger ClickList Chevy. Starting on the front row is going to be a big deal here.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman, aboard the No. 88 Axalta Camaro ZL1 was third quick, Chase Elliott was fourth fast in his No. 9 SunEnergy1 Camaro ZL1, and Jimmie Johnson qualified sixth in the No. 48 Lowe’s For Pros Camaro ZL1.

Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Kyle Larson, in the No. 42 Clover/First Data Camaro ZL1, and Jamie McMurray, in his No. 1 DC Solar Camaro ZL1 qualified sixth and eighth, respectively.

Chris Buescher was the 10th fastest qualifier in his No. 37 Maple Cheerios Camaro ZL1 for JTG Daugherty Racing.

Daniel Hemric, aboard the No. 8 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Camaro ZL1 for Richard Childress Racing, qualified 11th in his second career MENCS race, to give Team Chevy eight of the top 12 starters in Sunday’s field.

The Pole winner was Kurt Busch (Ford).

The Bank of America ROVAL 400 is scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 30 at 2:00 pm, ET. Live coverage can be found on NBC, PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT:

AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KROGER CLICKLIST CAMARO ZL1 – Qualified 2nd

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT:
“Yeah, I mean it’s a crazy race track for sure. To me, it’s like my Champ Car days it’s a street course in the infield there. Walls are on both sides of you, you make a small mistake and as we have seen you are going to pay the price for it. To me, it makes it a lot of fun because you’ve got to be on point. You’ve got to be aggressive, but you can’t be over aggressive. I could nitpick both my laps and say there is a lot more out there, but easily try to get that and you find yourself in the wall. More than anything, I’m really happy from where we were in practice. We were struggling. The car wasn’t very good and Trent Owens (crew chief) and all the boy’s kind of went to work and talked about it and came up with a good plan for qualifying. Hopefully, that leads us in a better direction for our race set-up tomorrow.”

TO YOU WHICH PART OF THE TRACK STANDS OUT AS THE MOST DIFFICULT?
“As soon as you pull out of the garage area and get on the race track, (laughs) pretty much right there it all begins. I mean to me it’s all of it. There is not one place that stands out because all around the race track you can really get yourself in a lot of trouble, really, the only place is kind of (turns) 15, 16 and 17. You can easily over shoot there and I think it’s a drive through if you do that. But that is the only place where there is not a lot of stuff to hit. Everywhere else you can make a mistake. You know, the bus stop on the back straightaway there is pretty gnarly. I think in race conditions it is going to be really gnarly because whether it’s turbulent air or if you find yourself side-by-side going in there and who gives. So, that is going to be a difficult challenge and I think it’s going to be a challenge for NASCAR to make the right call if somebody gets shoved and has to short cut it. But, to me it’s all challenging. You can get in trouble any part of the race track. To me, that is what makes it fun. You’ve got to go out there and be on your A-game kind of every corner because you can pay a big price for it.”

HOW DIFFERENT ARE QUALIFYING AND RACE SET-UP’S FOR A COURSE LIKE THIS?
“To me it’s not a lot. We kind of went into qualifying making changes with the mindset of race conditions as well. So, in qualifying on an oval makes it tough because you tape up and there is a lot of stuff that you do with nose weight and wedge and stuff like that, but here it’s pretty similar. Obviously, you tape up the nose and all the brake ducts and everything, so you get a little more downforce which is where the speed comes from, but I think set-up wise it’s pretty similar.”

YOU TALKED ABOUT THIS BEING LIKE YOUR CHAMP CAR DAYS. DOES ANY OF THAT EXPERIENCE GIVE YOU AN EDGE THIS WEEKEND?
“I don’t think it gives me an edge. Everybody in the top level here they are here for a reason. They are the best in the world. It’s no secret you see Kurt Busch he runs up front on every road course, every oval that we go to. But you know I think the one thing that to be it stands out, like I said, I could nitpick the lap, I feel like I could have found a half second out there, but it’s that small mistake that you make that if you do that you are probably going to hit something and I think we see a lot of it in practice. It will be interesting to see if in the race it all kind of backs up a little bit, but just knowing that there is a fine limit of pushing your car and getting the most out of it. If you over step that boundary, like I said, you pay a big penalty. In Champ Car you learn that. You had to run on the ragged edge, but it’s a big penalty. Hopefully, I can have that mindset in the race and be smart. I think we are going to see two races I think. You are either going to see everybody get so cautious because of all the accidents in practice and people that are on the cutoff line for the Playoffs or we are race car drivers and we are not very smart and we just go out there and we get crazy and we tear up a lot of stuff. Either one could happen. I think it will probably be the second probably.”

DID YOU CIRCLE THIS WEEKEND AS A PLACE WHERE YOU GUYS COULD COME AND REALLY RIGHT THE SHIP AND END THE YEAR ON A HIGH NOTE?
“Yeah, road courses are my background. I think it evens the playing field a little bit, but Kyle (Busch) didn’t have a great qualifying session, but I mean he’s been one of the fastest three guys all year and there is no shock that he will probably be one of the fastest three guys during the race. It evens they playing field a little bit, but as a race team we have been behind. That is why where we are in points. I can close the gap a little bit with my background and just enjoying road course racing, but it’s still going to be tough to win and we just have to go out there and do our jobs. For me, if I do my best that is all I can do. Whatever that result is whether we are in Victory Lane on Sunday or not, that is all I can do.”

ALL THIS HAPPENS ON THE DAY YOUR TEAM ANNOUNCES YOUR REPLACEMENT FOR NEXT YEAR. IS IT BITTERSWEET? DO YOU HAVE ANY PROSPECTS FOR NEXT YEAR?
“It’s not bittersweet. I have been very fortunate in my life. They gave me an opportunity to get back into the sport full-time. Yeah, of course you would like it to end on a better note. We didn’t have the success that we wanted to, but no matter what there is a banner that hangs in that shop, it’s the only one that they have that says NASCAR Cup Series winner and that can never be taken away. We have had a lot of great times, made the Playoffs, and you know people change, organizations change and it is part of the sport. It’s a business. Change can be scary sometimes, but it’s not always a bad thing and I think it can be a good thing on both ends. So, it is what it is. You know what, we go out there and win Sunday, we are still going in enjoy it as much as whether I had a full-time job with them or not. That is all I can do is go out there and do my best.

“I have prospects next year. No, I mean I’m just taking some time right now just to figure it all out. Figure out what I want to do. It’s been a tough couple of years, so take my time and figure it out and you know if there is a plan that God has for me to be in the sport next year, I will be here and if not, I will figure something else out.”

IF THIS IS SUCCESSFUL COULD THIS BE A BLUEPRINT FOR TAKING NASCAR TO A STREET COURSE IN THE FUTURE?
“Well, I mean maybe to a certain degree. To me what makes street courses fun is all about the venue. You go to a place like Long Beach, you go to a place like Toronto, Australia, when I was in Champ Car was amazing because the people that maybe don’t know about the sport can be up-close and personal in whatever downtown city that we are in. So, I think it has to be done right because these cars are obviously big race cars. If you take one of these to Long Beach, I don’t think we would make the hairpin, so you’ve got to find the right place, but it can be. To me, what I think makes this a lot of fun is that it’s different. It’s just different. I think in our sport we kind of sometimes bet on the monotony of going to the same places and this is different. I think we see it with the crowd, I think Charlotte and the city of Charlotte, Charlotte Motor Speedway has done a fantastic job of promoting it. I mean there is more promotion for this race than I have seen in one of the races around here in a long time. So, yeah, if it’s successful, I think we can take it to a lot of places and bring it to new areas that don’t have a NASCAR track.”

DO YOU LAY BACK IN THIS RACE? LET EVERYONE ELSE CRASH AND STAY OUT OF TROUBLE AND GET A TOP-10 OR TOP-15, WOULD THAT WORK FOR A PLAYOFF GUY WHO NEEDS A GOOD FINISH? OR IS THAT STUPID?
“To finish top-15. I’m sure that would work. It’s going to be talked about on TV a lot, there are guys that are maybe in that situation that need a decent, solid finish to make it to the next round. But there are guys that are going to be desperate as well. You’ve just got go with your strategy. My strategy is to go out there and try to win it. I’ve got no job, it doesn’t matter. I’m going out to win. Laying back, you are not going to win the race. Track position is going to be critical. Strategy is going to be critical to stay up front. It’s going to be hard to pass. For certain people, teams and drivers, that is probably the right decision. But for me, I’ve got nothing to lose.”

JUSTIN MARKS ANNOUNCED THIS IS HIS LAST WEEKEND. IS IT EMOTIONAL THAT HE IS LEAVING THE SPORT?
“I wouldn’t say its emotional. I’m not tearing up over it. But it’s just about life. If he is happy doing that, and it’s the right decision, that is what he should do. He is one of the nicest people you are ever going to meet. He is going to talk to you about anything. Sports or whatever. He is so enjoyable and such a nice person to be around. He is such a great driver. I have always respected him a lot because he has always worked hard on his craft. At first, he wanted to do this full time, then he wanted to not do it at all…he has other business ventures so he wanted to come back part time. More than anything he has worked on his craft to be as good as he is. In the end if he is happy with the decision, that is all that matters.”

INAUDIBLE:
” No, there are plenty of young guys out them. It is about marketing those guys right and letting people know who they are. I’m not leaving. You make it sound like I am dying up here. I just don’t have a job right now. I hope not…I’m not going to die as soon as I step off this stage…at least I hope not. That’s not my plan. I’m not leaving. You make it sound like I’m 65 or dead.”

IS THIS A GOOD ROAD COURSE?
“We have to see how the race plays out. If it is follow-the-leader, then maybe it’s not what we want. We’ve gone to Watkins Glen and Sonoma for what 20-30 years? Before that it was just Riverside. It is just something different, and its unique. That is what this sport needs. It is going to put on an interesting race. Is there going to be side-by-side battling. I don’t know. We will see tomorrow in the Xfinity race. It’s different. I’m enjoying it. It is a different challenge. As a pure race car driver that is what you want – different challenges. I think it can be a great race track.”

WERE YOU EMOTIONAL ABOUT THE DECISION TO BRING IN NEW DRIVER?
“Nobody likes being without a job. The more time I sit and think about it and talk about it with my family, it has literally been a year and a half I’ve not been happy. We’ve struggled. It hasn’t been fun. It’s hard on everybody. This year I’ve probably been a different person at the race track and at home. The possibility of not having a paycheck coming can be scary, but change can also be a very good thing. ”

IS STRATEGY GOING TO BE BIG?
“It’s going to be huge. We are basically on a street course like in open wheel racing. It is tough to pass. We have to see how long the tires last and how long fuel. But strategy about do you pit before the end of the stage? How do you make sure you have track position before the next stage? So, do you take the stage points and sacrifice track position? Strategy is going to be huge on Sunday.”

DO YOU NEED TO RUN WELL HERE THIS WEEKEND TO BUILD YOUR RESUME IN ORDER TO GET A FUTURE JOB SOMEWHERE ELSE?
“I mean I always want to be at my best for whatever team I’m driving for, for me personally, for the sponsors, for my fans, I just give everything I have. I think anybody that talks to me you see it. I wear my emotions on my sleeve whether it’s good or bad because I care. That is what I’ve always wanted people that have ever worked with me just to know that I care. I care about how hard they work, I appreciate the effort that is put into it. So, no it’s not an audition for the next team, I mean it’s all about going out there and being at my best for myself, for the team, for my guys that work so hard, just to show I appreciate it. So, the next six races it’s no different than everyone I’ve done my whole life.”

MANY YEARS AGO, YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO DRIVE FOR FERRARI. WELL, TODAY, WITH THE TEAM WITH MANY MILLIONS OF DOLLARS LESS TO SPEND, YOU OUT CLASSED THEM. THEY WERE FIFTH AND SIXTH IN SOCHI. HOW DO YOU FEEL DRIVING FOR A SMALL TEAM AND GETTING SUCH A GOOD RESULT?
“It’s no different than winning Watkins Glen and any time you run up front. The big teams are the big teams they are always going to be the big teams. It’s our goal to go out there and beat them, so I don’t take any more pride in beating certain guys. There are 39 other drivers out there, so at a place like this I feel like I can make a difference and get the car further up front and maybe that gets us a chance to win on Sunday. But, that is all I can do. It’s no different than what we fought for a long time. But, everybody can say that. Just go out there and do our best.”

 

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