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Jun 21, 2014 - 05:09 PM
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2014 Sonoma: AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson NASCAR Sprint Cup Post-Qualifying Press Conference
Posted by: ASkyler on Jun 21, 2014 - 05:08 PM
NASCAR News
2014 Sonoma: AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson NASCAR Sprint Cup Post-Qualifying Press Conference



AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KINGSFORD/CLOROX CHEVROLET SS - QUALIFIED 2ND

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS - QUALIFIED 3RD

TALK ABOUT THE QUALIFYING ROUND OUT THERE:

LARSON: "I thought it went pretty smoothly, I didn't see any issues. I'm sure in the beginning, it seemed like a lot of cars out there, so many some people got hung up. But we waited awhile to go just to get a clean lap. I think that was pretty key for the first session to get into the top-12. We obviously have a couple of pretty good cars at Chip Ganassi Racing. I thought I gave up time in a few spots. It would have been nice to get the pole, but Jamie (McMurray) was really fast. Good day. A lot better than I thought I was going to qualify. Not a lot better, I thought we would qualify pretty good, but not this good. Happy about that. Try to learn a lot in the K & N race, and take from that to tomorrow's race."

 

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TALK ABOUT STRONG THE PROGRAM IS AT CHIP GANASSI RACING:

LARSON: "Jamie is always really good here - especially in qualifying. I think he has had a few poles here. Juan (Pablo Montoya) is an extremely good road racer. It would be interesting to see what Juan could have done today in my car because I don't feel like I'm that great on road courses. It is a huge shout out to the guys at the shop, and the engineers and crew chiefs and everybody that put a lot of work into building these race cars. We've been pretty fast...well Jamie has been really good...I've kind of struggles in race trim. I need to work on the tires. When the tires wear out, I seem to...I don't know...not seem to be very good. I'm good when there is lots of grip in the tires. Yes, the car is really fast."

TALK ABOUT THE QUALIFYING TODAY HERE AT SONOMA:

ALLMENDINGER: "I wish we would have stuck to the old way. Everybody made one run, and we were pretty good after that. I'm proud of everybody on this No. 47 race team. Going into qualifying I honestly thought we didn't have a great car for qualifying. I was really happy with it in race trim. I was cautiously optimistic about it. But, I felt like I put in two good laps out there. You can nitpick and say 'ok, I lost a little bit here and there', but Jamie put in a heck of a lap, so congrats to him. Proud of these guys. Kingsford Chevy is good. To have Clorox its home race, and start up front. It will be a long battle tomorrow, but we have a good starting spot. So we will have a clean view, and go have some fun tomorrow."

YOU DON'T HAVE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE ON THIS COURSE OBVIOUSLY. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM PRACTICE SESSIONS THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO APPLY TODAY?

LARSON: "I think I've struggled through the esses a lot so far this weekend. I think as many laps as I have made, I've gotten better through there. I've figured out a couple of things. Just being patient in the early parts of the esses to carry more speed through the rest of it. I think that has carried over from the K & N car to this. I have a lot more to learn, especially when I get a few laps on the tires, I struggle with that. I'm sure I will learn a lot tomorrow throughout the race. I'm just going to stay out of trouble really and try and get a good finish. Anything can happen on these road courses, so we still have a good shot at winning."

IT HAS BEEN SAID YOU DON'T KNOW A LOT ABOUT SHIFTING, AND YOU WERE GIVEN A CAR TO HELP WITH YOUR SHIFTING. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN HOW QUICKLY YOU HAVE PICKED IT UP?

ALLMENDINGER INTERJECTS: "I think it is pretty simple...you are really good. It makes it easy for him. (Laughs)."

LARSON: "I don't know. I know how to shift, I just screw up every once and awhile. So far I haven't yet. I don't know. I haven't seemed to have any issues yet."

WHAT KIND OF A RELIEF IS IT TO QUALIFY WELL AND HAVE A GOOD STARTING POSITIONS FOR THE RACE?

ALLMENDINGER: "For me it's really important for this race. Once you get a couple of rows back, you start getting...especially with the double-file restarts and the start of the race - there are just a lot of ways to get yourself in trouble by something you aren't even doing. Hopefully we get through the first couple of corners cleans, and then you can kind of single file out and really run your own pace. Once you start getting back in the middle of the pack, everybody kind of runs the same speed. It is tough to pass, it is easy to burn your tires off and make mistakes. This race is all about strategy. So I'm sure it will go front to back a couple of times when strategy starts playing out depending on when you get the yellows. But to at least start the race up front, it is a huge relief."

WHAT KIND OF RELIEF IS IT TO QUALIFY WELL AND HAVE A GOOD STARTING POSITION FOR THE RACE?

LARSON: "For me, starting up front - hopefully I can stay up there for a little bit. I'm sure I will fall back some in the beginning, especially when the tires wear out. I just have to stick with it, not get frustrated. Try to give and take as must as I can to maintain track position, let everybody on the box call a great race. Just have to stay out of trouble. Keep all four tires on trace. Hopefully the goal is to get a top-10."

HOW MUCH DID THE TWO DAYS YOU TESTED HERE HELP YOU WITH THIS RUN?

ALLMENDINGER: "It was a big deal for us because honestly when we showed up at the test, we were awful. I feel like if we hadn't of tested here, and shown up the way we planned on showing up, we wouldn't be talking right now. We spent the first day-and-a half just trying to figure the race car. The last half of the day, I felt like we got a lot of speed in it. The things still wasn't perfect. We were testing on the old tire from last year, but I feel like if we didn't get those two days here just to get the car right with these new rules packages - the ride height rule and stuff like that - we would have struggled a lot here."

KYLE, DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE IN THE CHASE LIKE DURING THE WEEK AWAY FROM THE RACE TRACK? DO YOU CALCULATE IN YOUR HEAD WHERE YOU NEED TO BE?

LARSON: "I kind of know where I have to be because each week they let me know based on averages, kind of where you have to finish to make the Chase if you don’t win a race. So, I kind of know that. And that’s my goal, just beating that position every week. And the number keeps getting bigger and bigger so we can relax a little bit, but you’ve still got to finish every race. It would be nice to get a win, but you’ve got to be consistent to be up there in case you don’t win a race. And right now, we’re sitting in a pretty good spot. If it isn’t me winning, I hope somebody that’s already won a race keeps winning to just not take up any extra spots. But the road course is throwing a curve ball. I know AJ is probably really looking forward to it because this is a good opportunity for him to get in the Chase. And I guess it’s a good opportunity for anybody."

THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME IN A SPRINT CAR HERE. THE ELEVATION CHANGES AND ALSO GRIP IS A BIG DEAL WHEN YOU’RE GOING 160 FEET. WHAT ARE YOUR OBSERVATIONS ON THAT AND HOW IT COMPARES TO OTHER CIRCUITS THAT YOU’VE BEEN ON IN THIS TYPE OF CAR?

LARSON: "I was surprised with the elevation. I thought it would be tougher to see over the hill. But, it really hasn’t been that bad. The elevations kind of get me when my tires wear out. It upsets the balance a little bit. But, it’s a really technical track. It’s really slick. It makes it fun and refreshing for me at the same time. You’ve got to just stick with it. Me being home in California is nice. I wish we could race out here more often. But I’m glad to be home when I can."

ARE THE TIRES GOING AWAY A LOT QUICKER HERE THAN AT SOME OF THE OVAL RACE TRACKS?

LARSON: ‘I’ve never raced here before so I don’t really know. Each track is different on the circuit, so I don’t know; at this place it feels even worse because you come to corners like Turn 11 and 7 where you’re almost at a stop and you have to take back off. And it’s hard to get that traction. So it’s kind of hard to compare to an oval where you have a lot more momentum."

THERE ARE A LOT OF TYPICALLY GOOD ROAD COURSE RACERS AND HUNGRY PEOPLE BEHIND YOU IN THE LINE-UP. DOES STARTING UP FRONT PLACE MORE EMPHASIS ON THAT? NONE OF THE HENDRICK CARS ADVANCED TO THE TOP 12

ALLMENDINGER: "Yeah, I think a couple of things. There are some surprises in there. I was surprised Clint (Bowyer) wasn’t in there from his lap yesterday. And obviously Marcos (Ambrose), you always go right to him. But at the same point, I just think it shows how tough this series is no matter what race track you’re on now. You come to the road courses and there’s no such thing as a ‘ringer’ anymore, somebody who can just come in and immediately run in the top 10 or top 5. You look on down the list. It’s tough. Kasey (Kahne) qualifying 30th you know, a previous winner here. It’s a difficult thing, especially in qualifying too when everybody is so close and it’s just so critical to get that one lap in and this place is so tough to make sure you hit every mark for 11 corners. But that’s what makes it fun. This race has got so many different strategies that play out. I’m planning on doing either a one or four-stop strategy. We’re not doing anything in between so we’re just going to work on that (laughter)."

KYLE, YOU ARE POSSIBLY THE ONLY CUP DRIVER THIS WEEKEND WHO HAS NOT DRIVEN THIS COURSE BEFORE. HOW MUCH DO YOU RELY ON YOUR SPOTTERS?

LARSON: "Well, there’s me and the other rookies. A lot of us are running the K&N race today after this session to gain more experience. And then I think all of us just rely on as much information and whoever wants to give it to us. Our spotters are really high so they can see the track better than the rest of us. But I would say I rely more on (Jamie) McMurray. So far this weekend, I sat in the lounge with him for 15 or 20 minutes yesterday and he was kind of just going through every corner of the track and trying to give me as much information as I could get. I definitely think having a teammate like that really helps. He’s obviously really fast and willing to work with me and teach me a lot, which is great."


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