JOLIET, Ill. – From a handicapping standpoint, AJ Allmendinger is realistic enough to know he won’t have the same odds of winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title as six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, but he took lighthearted umbrage at being considered an afterthought for the Chase.
“We’re contenders ‘cause we’re here, and we’ve got a shot at it, but I’m also not blind to the fact that, if you set myself against Jimmie, he’s more favored,” Allmendinger said. “I understand that.
“Vegas—I was laughing at it—they made odds for 14 drivers, and me and (Aric) Almirola were just ‘The Field’ for the championship. There were 14 names with odds and then ‘The Field’ at 500 to 1.”
According to VegasInsider.com, the odds for the Allmendinger/Almirola combination are now 250 to 1 as a field bet.
“I understand it,” Allmendinger said. “It’s a part of it. I relish it, honestly. I like being the underdog team. (Team owners) Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) started this (JTG/Daugherty Racing) team in a barn in ’94, so they’ve always been an underdog.
“I don’t take offense to it. I just kind of smile and say, ‘I like being under the radar.’ Hopefully, we can go make some noise and make some guys mad by knocking them out of the Chase.”
In order to escape the first elimination round of the Chase, however, Allmendinger knows what his team has to do at the tracks involved—Chicagoland, New Hampshire and Dover.
“We’ve just got to be perfect,” he said. “We’ve just got to be at our best. I look at a race like Dover, depending on how the first two have run… if we have to win it to stay in it, then you start taking some chances.
“But we’ve just got to be as close to perfect as possible.”