AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KINGSFORD CHARCOAL CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed the week following his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, his outlook for the Chase and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEK AS WELL AS COMING INTO MICHIGAN THIS WEEK: “It’s been really good. Luckily I have the best PR person in the world with Jennifer Chapple. It’s been really good. Just to be able to amongst everything throughout the interviews and everything and all the exposure that we have it’s been important to me to see the faces of Tad and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty. To me they are the ones that deserve all the credit and they have worked so hard. Especially with Tad and Jodi starting 20 years ago with their race team in a barn to get to this point and be able to share that all together – Sprint Cup victory and to have it be our first. And all the guys at the shop they work so hard just with our little race team to keep building great race cars and putting the effort in. Throughout the course of the year through the up’s and down’s that we have had that to me is what has been great to be able to share that with everybody on our race team. We truly are just a family that works hard together. Everything that has come with that has just been fantastic.”
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MAKING THE CHASE THIS SEASON AND WHAT THAT MEANS TO YOU: “It’s just big in general for all of our sponsors that support this great race team. To be able to have Tad and Jodi and Brad really be able to say that they have a race team that is in the Chase. Everything that comes along with that is just so big for our race team. It can only help us to keep getting better. We know when it comes to the Chase as a championship contender obviously our names aren’t going to be the first ones that are brought up. We know that. Especially places like here and the 1.5-mile race tracks where we have struggled a little bit so we know we have a lot of work to do as well. These next few weeks hopefully gives us a chance just to keep working hard, maybe trying some things and just see if we can get our race team just a little bit better around these places. So when we get to the Chase hopefully we can make just a little bit of noise in it as well.”
DO YOU THINK YOU ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE BEING A ONE CAR TEAM? “When it comes to disadvantage to just adding an extra car not really because with the RCR alliance that we have technically I have five or six teammates. We get all the data and all the engineering all the notes from them. I don’t look at it as a disadvantage to just having a one car team. But with that said where we are as a team we’ve got 35 people that work on our race team and that is counting the front office, people that answer the phones and the marketing side of it. It’s just getting those resources in and continually trying to build our race team. All the data that we get from Richard Childress and the ECR motors have been so great. The alliance that we have with them and the help from Chevy it’s only helped us. We are far ahead of where we would be without them. “But at the same point we are always trying to keep up with all the resources that they have and to try to make us better. I don’t look at it as needing an extra car. This is part of it making the Chase is going to help us hopefully get a few more resources going into the Chase. That is kind of where we are at right now where our struggled are is just continually trying to build and keep up with the big race teams when it comes to resources and just man power.”
YOUR WIN ON SUNDAY SORT OF SHOWS THAT SOMEONE CAN GO FROM THE ROAD TO RECOVERY PROGRAM AND WIN. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY FROM THERE TO THIS VICTORY AND WHAT IT’S BEEN LIKE: “I mean I knew the mistake I made and I learned from it. NASCAR laid out a plan to get back and I wasn’t going to fight it. More importantly what it did for me is it gave me time away from racing which I’ve never had to just figure out if I even wanted to race anymore and then realize that at that point racing wasn’t making me happy anyway so what was it. What did I have to do to just be happier out of the race car? Because in the end at some point we are not going to have a race car whether it’s next week, a year, 10 years, hopefully it is 10-15 years, but at some point there will be no more race car. For the first time I had to look at that and that is really where I was. The whole time really wasn’t trying to get back to NASCAR I was going to do whatever it took at that point, but everything else was just trying to get myself better. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’m way better off now than I’ve ever been. Honestly without that probably wouldn’t of had to make those changes or at least dealt with it. It’s a lot better.”
THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK AFTER THE WIN THAT THERE MIGHT BE NEW STUFF COMING FROM CHILDRESS, NEW GENERATION CHASSIS AND STUFF LIKE THAT. DO YOU HAVE A BRAND NEW CAR HERE THIS WEEKEND? DOES THE PERFORMANCE THIS WEEKEND GIVE YOU ANY MOMENTUM HEADING INTO THE CHASE SINCE IT’S MADE UP PRIMARILY OF 1.5-MILE TRACKS?“RCR has been so open to allowing us to have all the resources that they need. I think right now when it comes to their chassis they are running something that is their newest, newest end all. They have had it the last couple of weeks. We are kind of one step behind that. Although this chassis that we have was one I ran at the All-Star race that was really good then got wrecked so we just got that thing re-clipped and all done up. So the guys at the shop have done a great job to really massage on this race car and try to make it as best as possible. RC (Richard Childress) has been so good to say ‘we will do whatever it takes when you are in the Chase to go out there and help you do the best that is possible.’ I have said it since day one my goal has been to not just keep taking, taking, taking we want to be able to give something back to them. We want to have them look at our notes and get better from it. Hopefully we are doing that a little bit.
“This weekend, yeah, we would love to go out there and win the race. I mean that is the ultimate goal, but realistically I feel like just this first practice session from the last time we were here we are way better than we were. We will find out in qualifying and then tomorrow in practice and obviously on Sunday in the race where we truly are, but it’s not about the ultimate goal of winning the race. That is what we would love to do, but it’s about just trying to get better. That is the next four weeks and that is the next 10 weeks after that. I have said since day one if we can get to Homestead and run the last lap and say we are far better than when we started the year whether that is a championship, 16th, 10th in points whatever it is that is a successful year. We are not changing anything we are just trying to get better. The only thing I would say is we hadn’t planned on using our last test. We used three of them and now maybe with the win and the more money and everything that comes with that being in the Chase we might use that fourth test before the Chase starts. Probably at a 1.5-mile somewhere, something we’ve got to have a meeting about this week.”
“We don’t want to go to Chicago and suck. We want to use it before the Chase starts.”
SO PROBABLY CHICAGO?
“Yeah, but that was just something we had planned to not even use just to save money, but now we might have the opportunity to go test, but that is a meeting we’ve got to have this week. Last week was all about enjoying it and just taking everything and just really trying to take whether it was an interview or just celebrating back at the shop with the guys, just take it all in and truly enjoy it. Now this weekend we are back to business, Monday we will have those meetings.”
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST THING ABOUT THE WHOLE WEEK POST WIN LEADING UP TO MICHIGAN? “I think it just goes back to being at the shop with the guys. Just enjoying it. Having my parents there was so special to be able to share that with them in Victory Lane. I’ve put so much pressure on myself whether it’s this year or the last few years to go out there and try to be at my best and I felt like at times if I didn’t win it was a negative on me because that is what my life has been all about was winning and doing that. To be able to this year kind of look at it differently, have a different perspective, but to be able to say as a whole as a race team that we are winners in the Sprint Cup Series which is hard to do. That has probably been the most enjoyment thing. Waking up each day knowing that I don’t have to have you guys ask me when I’m going to win again. Or ‘are you going to be the next first time winner.’ I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m good with that now.”
YOUR COMMENTS EARLIER I THINK WERE GOOD FOR ANYBODY ABOUT HAPPINESS. WHAT DID YOU REPLACE IT WITH? HOW MUCH SWEETER IS THE VICTORY? HOW MUCH LESS PAINFUL IS LOSING OR CRASHING OR WHATEVER HAPPENS NEGATIVE? “When it comes to the racing side of it, if we have a bad day I’m still mad about it and frustrated and there have been many of times this year leaving the race track just upset about it and it carrying over for the next day or so. I used to let it just take over my life. It wasn’t okay I’m mad about it at night and in the morning. It would carry over to the next week. The way the sport is you just let it keep carrying over the next week is bad, the week after and so on. It can steam roll to where you are just miserable. I used to do that a lot. I think for me it’s more about I’m still as passionate as ever about racing and wanting to win. Probably more than ever with this race team because I feel like it’s my own race team and I want to strap it to my back and take it to new levels that we haven’t been at. Which that is what we are doing we will be in the Chase. But at the same point getting over it and enjoying what is around you and surrounding yourself with friends and family that make you happy that truly love you whether you are a race car driver or not they don’t care. Things like that, just the daily life of just trying to make things a lot more simply in life and a lot less stressful. Just trying to enjoy when you are out with friends and not whether you finished 43rd or you won it doesn’t matter when you are just having family and friends hanging out. That is basically what I have tried to do.”
HOW LONG DID THE HAT DANCE TAKE WITH ALL YOUR DIFFERENT SPONSORS? “I watched my ESPN interview after. I didn’t mention anything I think I just kept screaming at Jerry Punch that we finally won a Sprint Cup race, I kind of laugh about that. I think I’ve got pretty good at mentioning all of them Scott Products, Kingsford, Clorox, Bush’s Beans, Charter, House Autry, Shore Lunch, Hungry Jack then there are the side sponsors that come with that Viva, Hidden Valley stuff like that. I have gotten pretty good at memorizing them, but yeah the hat dance took forever and I loved it. I wanted to sleep in Victory Lane, but they told me I had to get back to the plane so everybody could fly out. I was willing to sleep right there. I wanted to wake up with confetti stuck to my face. They said that wasn’t allowed.”