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2018 Daytona 500 Q&A: NASCAR Monster Energy - AJ Allmendinger
Posted by: ASkyler on Feb 15, 2018 - 06:18 AM
NASCAR News
2018 Daytona 500 Q&A: NASCAR Monster Energy - AJ Allmendinger


AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KROGER CLICKLIST CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Daytona 500 media day. Full transcript:

OUTLOOK FOR SEASON WITH CHANGE TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS SUPPORT:
“The new relationship with Hendrick Motorsports has been good. They have been so helpful in trying to develop our stuff. More than anything, just being able to have that technical alliance and for them to come over and make sure we are building the cars the right way and kind of going the same direction has been a lot of help. Chris Buescher tested at Las Vegas and I though the car was a lot fast. He talked highly that between what we have learned from Hendrick and the new Camaro ZL1 body was a lot better. We still have a lot of room to improve, but for sure, it is an organization that is going to help us a lot.

 
IS IT ALL CHASSIS?
“Really, how far to dive into…it is still us building the chassis and doing our body, but their technical alliance makes sure for us to get the numbers, they come over and make sure we are working on the same path that they are. Motors will be next year in 2019, but more than anything it is the sim and all of those tools that they have to really help us.”



IS THE ALLIANCE JUST ENGINEERS TALKING, OR DOES IT MEAN YOU CAN GO TALK TO THE DRIVERS?
“I don’t have a really great answer. I think we will see how it evolves. I will say for sure it is more on the technical side of it of them helping us. Heck, I can go talk to Jimmie at any point I want to and learn some stuff. I think as a race team we still have to go out there---as an organization as a whole, go out there and improve our stuff. But, to have them there kind of by our side if we have questions, and as I said, more than anything their sim and their tools to help us evolve and get better.”



IS THE NEW WAVE OF DRIVERS GOING TO BE KIDS THAT LEARN I-RACING RATHER THAN BEING IN GO-KARTS?

“I think there is a little bit of both. I think….to me, the better way is still through karting or Bandoleros or whatever direction you go to whatever path you want to get to. But, when it comes to I-Racing, or sim in general, those are new tools now. That is a different path to go. As I tell kids, there is no right or wrong path. It is no secret, this sport is expensive. And it is expensive from the start. It’s not just at the highest level. You look at karting teams-families – they spend a couple hundred thousand dollars a year to go kart. So maybe it you don’t have the funds, or the means to go about karting or any form of racing, I-Racing and sim now has gotten close enough you see young kids that do it. They can get into a race car and feel like they have already developed their skills in so many different ways. You still don’t have that sensation under your legs and under your butt to feel what it is like, but it is getting closer and closer. Now if you look at the manufacturers and the tools that they have with their sims and things like that, there are a lot of ways to go about getting in a race car and develop yourself. A kid like William Byron, for sure, to see what he has done in a five-year path is pretty amazing.”





DO YOU THINK YOU WILL HAVE AN ADVANTAGE AT CHARLOTTE IN THE FALL WITH YOUR ROAD RACING BACKGROUND?

“No. We still have to go out there and win and be strong enough to get in the playoffs with points and have that chance. If we do, then great. I like our chances to get there and win on the Roval. But we have 30 races or more before we ever get there. So that is something we really have to focus on and take it one race at a time. Daytona is its own race. Then you go to Atlanta to see where your mile-and-a-half program is then you go through the West Coast swing, and by the time you get done there after Martinsville and Bristol after about seven or eight races, you really know as a race team where you are at. Just take it one race at a time.”



DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR INDYCAR ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE OVER LOOKED? DO YOU FEEL THAT SPENDING TIME IN INDYCAR WAS REALLY HELPFUL IN ANY WAY TO DRIVE THESE CARS?

“To say it gets overlooked, I actually don’t even really think about that. I know what I have done in my past. I know I want to continually want to get achieving and be at my best. I feel fortunate that I’ve had a diverse career that I have raced so many different types of cars. Whether I want to go run at the Rolex 24 and feel like I can be competitive and feel like I have a chance to win there, or back in the IndyCar days. I feel blessed that I have had those opportunities. To say they are overlooked or they aren’t, it doesn’t really matter because in this day and age, it is kind of what have you done for me now.



“It helps me on the road courses for sure. When I first got here I wasn’t an oval guy. I hadn’t really been on a lot of ovals so it took me a while to learn that. I’m very fortunate to have that diverse background to race multiple types of cars and feel like I can be competitive in them.



“The biggest thing I dealt with was the weight of the car. It is hard it is to even put into words how different it really is from and Indy car to a stock car. I think that is why you see that there are not a lot of people that stay around in it…it is a difficult challenge. It took me a couple of years to even feel comfortable in a stock car because we didn’t have a lot of testing. Especially now days that there is really no testing. It is a challenge.””



WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR SOMEONE TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN BOTH?

“A dirt track background is probably a closer feel to a stock car with the car sliding around and riding up against the wall. The way you drive a stock car compared to an Indy car is completely different or even a sports car for that matter. The dirt background…you see all these guys like Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell, it started with guys like Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon, that is probably a closer feel and that is why they are able to come in a be so successful right away. I’m still trying to be successful, so it is a challenge. Being with the right team helps. Being in a competitive car it allows you to learn a lot quicker.”





DANICA PATRICK SAID YOU NEED SUPPORT FROM YOUR TEAM. MONTOYA SAID THAT AT TIMES WHEN THINGS DON’T GO RIGHT, IT IS EASIER TO POINT AT THE PERSON WHO DOESN’T HAVE EXPERIENCE IN A STOCK CAR. DID YOU GET THAT IT? WAS IT HARD TO PROVE YOURSELF?

“My situation is probably way different from theirs. They were able to come in with established team. Me coming in with a brand-new team, that one of the fastest qualifiers in the sport only made about half of the races with Brian Vickers. It was a different challenge for me. Having support of the team definitely helps. You come in, you are a little bit lost trying to figure out what it is like. Good team and good support to say ‘Hey, we’ve got you no matter what’. That helps a lot. You are stepping into a complete unknown trying to fend for yourself.”



SECOND YEAR WITH CHRIS BUESCHER AS YOUR TEAMMATE, IS IT WAY DIFFERENT THAN LAST YEAR?

“We are more prepared. It is probably the most repaired our race team has been. We have added so many people just for wind tunnel testing and K-Rig testing and stuff like that. The team is definitely more prepared. Chris (Buescher) and I have a year under our belt working together and I really enjoy working with him. It makes it a lot of fun and we can kind of bounce ideas off each other. It’s a tough time in the sport right now to be competitive. Between what Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) have done and what Ernie Cope running the team are doing, we are prepared. We will see after these first five, six races where we are at.”



HOW DO YOU THINK DANICA PATRICK HAS CHANGED THE SPORT?
“I think in so many ways she has helped. At the race track you would see a lot of young girls walking around with Danica shirts on. Without her they probably wouldn’t have been here. So, I think she has hopefully helped open more doors for young females to come in and be a part of the sport. But, I think that to me is what stood out is the fact that she just brought new viewership and that is what we need. Whatever it is, whether it’s young drivers like William Byron and Chase Elliott and those types of guys or Danica or young women to come in to get a different diversity and different background to watch the sport. It only helps all of us in the long run.”



HAVE YOU SEEN MORE FEMALE DRIVERS IN THE YOUNGER RANKS COMING UP?
“No, I think that has always been there. But, she has been able to be in the spotlight and maybe put more of a spotlight there saying that you can make it than maybe anybody else has. It’s just like any other things it’s all paved by people like Janet Guthrie. It’s no different than what NASCAR/IndyCar has always done and it starts with the roots and as drivers and as an industry in general we try to make it better and grow for the next group.”

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