MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
GOBOWLING AT THE GLEN
WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 3, 2018
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KROGER CLICKLIST CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed road course racing as a whole, the recent race at Sonoma, racing in the Xfinity Series this weekend, his expectations at The Glen, and more. Full Transcript:
EVERYBODY IS ANALYZING YOU AND WHAT IT’S GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU TO WIN THIS WEEKEND. DO YOU GET TIRED OF LISTENING TO IT AND JUST CONCENTRATE ON WHAT YOU NEED TO DO YOURSELF?
“In the end, I can just do my best. I’ve come here and put a lot of pressure on myself. We all know what the ultimate goal is when we show up here. I think over the past couple of years it’s gotten a little bit more difficult. I think the field is spread out more. This year, we’ve seen the three fastest guys are usually the three fastest guys every weekend. It doesn’t matter what track we go to, unfortunately they’re good everywhere. I think there’s more of a difference I can make here as a driver, but I don’t see why it’s not going to be those three again that are going to be the fastest cars. As a whole, in the series, we’ve got to catch up to them. So, I just come here and do my best and try to get everything I can out of it. And whatever that holds, I think sometimes people look at it like if we don’t win, it’s a full disappointment of the weekend, but we come here and we run Top 5 all weekend and you get a Top 5 finish, that’s still tough to do and that’s still a good day. So, if there’s a chance to win, we’ll take the chance. And if not, we’ll just get the best that we can and for me, just get everything I can out of the weekend. And if I do that, I can be satisfied with it.”
WHAT EXACTLY DID HAPPEN AT SONOMA AND HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO GET OVER IT?
“I’m not over it yet and it was pretty simple. I missed a shift. That was it. Bad mistake. And something I’ve never really done before. And, yeah, it’s still on my mind, for sure.”
HAVE YOU GUYS CHANGED ANYTHING WITH YOUR SHIFTING MECHANISM TO PREVENT IT?
“No, it was all me. Actually, we have new transmissions this year and the guys at the shop have done a great job. They’re actually the easiest things I’ve ever shifted in my life and it was something where, for the thousandth time I’ve shifted like that, nothing that I’ve ever really thought of, and probably was a little lackadaisical on just second to third, just because it’s so natural. Our other transmissions, because they were tougher to shift, they’d actually reject, most of the time, if it went back into first. It would just pop it into neutral. And that one was smooth and it shoved into first. Like I said, it’s something that I think about still. It’s something that still annoys me. It’s kind of like a bad golf swing, right? You hit 100 great swings and all of a sudden you hosel one and that one starts sticking in your head about how did that happen. So, just make sure it doesn’t happen again. That had nothing to do with the team or anything we did. That was all me.”
WHY ARE YOU STILL EVEN THINKING ABOUT SONOMA? WHY IS THAT JUST NOT IN THE PAST AND JUST MOVE ON?
“Because I’m a perfectionist. And you know, the road course races, I really try to be a perfectionist. Like I said, it’s not going to bother me here, but I am who I am. It’s still in the back of my mind. It still just annoys me. That’s it. I was disappointed for the race team and that I let them down. We didn’t get a good finish. I don’t think we were going to win that race. I don’t think it cost us a Playoff spot there, but I thought we were going to at least have a top three or four finish. It just annoys me.
WHY ARE YOU IN THE XFINITY RACE THIS WEEKEND?
“Because GMS Racing asked me to be in it. And it’s a race; at Watkins Glen. I mean, why not? I haven’t done an Xfinity race since Team Penske at Road America and Mid-Ohio. I felt fortunate. They came to me and asked me if I wanted to do this race with them and I said, for sure. I love this place. Any type of race car that you get to be in around here is an awesome thing. It’s enjoyable. They’ve got a great team. They’ve already got a win this year. For a second year Xfinity team. I think we’ve got a lot of speed in the car and more importantly, I thought it was a competitive car and I could go out there and run up front in. So, it was exciting for me. Any time a race team wants you to drive a race car, especially for me, it means a lot. So, hopefully we can go there and get some practice in today and if not, we’ll start cold turkey tomorrow and get after it. But it’s cool because for them, they’ve got a new sponsor on the car, AfterShokz, that’s never been in the sport. So, let’s call it what it is. Anytime you’re able to bring a new sponsor into the sport, and I feel fortunate that I get to drive them and meet those people for the first time and hopefully have a great experience. And it makes it better for their race team to grow a better and bigger race team.”
“I never sought after it. For the most part, usually the best cars are either taken by the full time drivers, or the Cup guys that are driving for their race team. Like I said, I’ve always wanted to be in a competitive car. I’m not just going to go out there to be out there. But I never sought after it and they came to me and I jumped at it and said, for sure.”
TALK ABOUT WATKINS GLEN AND THE ATMOSPHERE HERE
“For me, it’s one of the best natural road courses that we have in the U.S., I think in North America in general. For that reason, it’s just a fun race track. I wish we ran all of it. I wish we ran the boot and everything. That would make it really exciting. And I think it would separate the field a little bit more. But, it’s a beautiful place to come to in August. More importantly, and I’ve said this over and over again, the crowd that we’ve gotten the last several years, really seems like it’s stood out the last four or five years. It’s a packed house. There’s not an empty seat or an empty campground. And you feel that atmosphere on Sunday. You walk in and start doing your sponsor-stuff. There’s people everywhere. And, for me, it pumps me up to see that big of a crowd show up to a race track. So, for so many reasons it just makes it fun to be here.”
HOW HELPFUL IS RUNNING THE XFINITY RACE GOING TO BE FOR SUNDAY’S CUP RACE?
“I don’t think it makes a huge deal. But there is stuff that we could possibly try on set-up that may help on the Cup side of it. But, it never hurts to run more laps around a race track. It will be the first time I’ve don’t a double-duty race in 10 years, so that’ll be a little bit to get used to running back & forth on Saturday, especially. But, it’s just racing. I just want to race; especially at a road course. So, if there’s an opportunity to do it, whether it’s going to help me a lot or a little of if any, it’s a chance to go out there and run up front and possibly win a race.”
DO YOU THINK THAT IF YOU DO RUN IN THE RAIN THAT IT WILL HELP YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE USED TO HAVING RACED IN THOSE CONDITIONS?
“I’ve only driven a stock car once in the wet, kind of half-wet in practice at Road America. Does it help me a lot? I don’t know. But, as I told the guys, what if it rains, we’ll be fine.”
AT THE ALL-STAR RACE, YOU WERE A REAL FACTOR. WHAT’S YOUR REACTION TO REPORTS THAT NASCAR IS CONSIDERING USING A VARIATION OF THAT PACKAGE IN A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF RACES NEXT YEAR?
“I hadn’t heard that, so I haven’t thought much about it. I do wish there was probably a little bit more horsepower. That would be the thing that stood out. I know there’s a fine line to making sure there is still closer racing. But, I wish there was a little bit more horsepower because it did make the passes tougher to complete. And qualifying is pretty dull, by yourself; but it definitely made the racing a lot more competitive, more than I expected, honestly. Race tracks like that, Charlotte had enough to where the tires went away and where handling was just important enough. And I thought that night, we got our car spot-on. So a little bit more horsepower would help that. But, yeah, I’m all for trying to make the racing closer. And if it’s better for the fans and sponsors and for the sport, that’s great. I do think when you add downforce like that, it closes the gap up between all the teams. And right now, we’ve got us a low aero package. You see Stewart-Haas or Gibbs, when they find, call it 30 counts of downforce, it makes a lot bigger deal when you have a lot less downforce compared to when you add more downforce on these race cars. I think it closes the gap up. By itself, it makes it easier to drive, but in the race people are like oh, it makes it easer to drive but that was as hard as I could drive. And that was tough. Running wide-open around the fence at Charlotte, every lap I held my breath getting in the corner. But I do think it just closes the gap up a little bit to making that the aero gains, I mean Kevin still won, so you can’t say that it fixed everything, but it does just close the gap up. That’s the biggest thing I think it helps with all the race teams is when you add downforce. Those little bits of downforce that the bigger teams find aren’t as big of a deal.”
CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR FINAL ANALYSIS OF THE ROVAL AND WHAT WE MIGHT EXPECT TO SEE? DID NASCAR TALK TO YOU AFTER THE TEST THERE? WERE YOU ABLE TO GET ANY FEEDBACK?
“No, they didn’t talk to me about it. It’s going to be interesting. They only thing I wish they would maybe think about changing is the chicane on the back straightaway. We enter there at 175 or 180 mph and you’re pointed at a tire barrier on the exit. And that’s by ourselves. I tried to clip the blue curb to see if I could give myself more room and I basically ripped the transmission out of the bottom of the car. So, I really do with that they would just slow the entry down to make is a real chicane to where we’d go down a second gear and you slow down. Then you could open the exit up however you want, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no cutting or anything like that; so, make the beginning of the corner a lot more important than the exit. But in general, I think track position is going to be critical. It’s going to be tough to pass. Depending on what tire they bring, I’m not sure that they knew exactly what tire they still wanted to bring. Tires are going to be important as they started to go away pretty quick. But, I think in the infield, passing is going to be tough. You’re going to see kind of that fine line between bouncing off each other in the infield to make a pass and you still need the aero, especially if they leave the chicane as fast as it is on the back straightaway. That’s going to be critical to making sure you’ve still got all the fenders on the car. It’s going to be a fun race. I’m looking forward to it. I’d rather have a race like that and maybe change it up than running the oval for the third time during the year. It’s going to be interesting. I can’t tell you if there’s going to be a ton of crashes or no crashes, but it’s going to be exciting to watch, for sure.”
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