WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.— AJ Allmendinger is an excellent road-course racer with a chance to win Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen (1 p.m. ET on ESPN).
He’s also a realist.
Allmendinger knows that, even if he wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International and qualifies for the Chase, his No. 47 JTG/Daugherty team isn’t ready to contend for a championship.
“When it comes to the Chase side of it, it would be great to be in the Chase, because it meant we won,” said Allmendinger, who led Friday’s final practice at the 2.45-mile road course. “That’s the only way we’re going to get in. With our race team right now, I’m not sure that we are quite in that realm of saying, if we make the Chase, we can go win the championship.
“Anything can happen, but I think to come here and, if we were to win, to get into the Chase would just be great for all of our sponsors and this race team and to help keep building the race team and promoting it. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t look to make the Chase to make the championship, but… I feel like if we do the right things we can be in contention to win the race.”
By his own admission, Allmendinger isn’t the most patient person when it comes to the performance of his team, but he’s learning restraint from team owner Tad Geschickter.
“I like the direction we’re going,” said Allmendinger, who earned the sixth-place starting position in Saturday’s time trials. “But as Tad keeps reminding, me it’s a process. This isn’t a one year deal. It’s a long term deal.
“As you know me, I’m not a big fan of being patient. I’m working on that. He keeps trying to teach me that every week, whether it’s on the golf course or on the race track.”