NASCAR » 15 September 2006
Press Snoop: Allmendinger truckin'.
NASCAR has confirmed that, based on Allmendinger's previous racing experience, he qualifies to race on any NASCAR track, including Daytona and Talladega, often off-limits to rookies until they have proven themselves.
This weekend at NHIS, the trucks have about two hours of practice on Friday including rookie practice, in which Allmendinger will participate. Saturday, Allmendinger said he will show up, run two laps, including his qualifying lap, and hope that he makes the 36-truck field. Right now, he expects to be very nervous before qualifying.
As Allmendinger is running a fourth BDR truck which has no owner points, he will have to qualify on time, which is a new concept to him. With Champ Car, he qualifies but is always guaranteed a starting position. This weekend, one of the 37 drivers will be going home. Thirty are locked in with their owner points, and seven drivers, including AJ, are competing for the remaining six spots.
Allmendinger's crew will be gathered from various guys on BDR's Cup team, for the pit-stops. AJ is a little nervous about the pit-stops because they will be different from Champ Car. His crew chief will be RICKY VIERS, AKA 'Ricky Bobby'.
What makes Allmendinger the most nervous is visibility. He's getting used to how big is the truck. He's completely strapped in and he can't see much because he is so cocooned in the cockpit. AJ said he can't turn his head sideways and all he can see is what is up front through his windshield. So he will rely heavily on information from his spotter - whom he hasn't met yet. The lack of visibility and knowing where others are worries him more than racing in traffic with the trucks. For that, he will depend on his spotter. Racing side-by-side is great. Not knowing who is beside him is different.
Another concern for Allmendinger will be the drafting at Talladega Speedway, his other selected Truck race. While it is not a restrictor plate race for the Trucks, there still will be drafting. The trucks run smaller engines and they draft better because they punch a bigger hole in the air. Racing in Trucks is a completely different race atmosphere than the open-wheel environment to which he is accustomed.
Allmendinger is looking for a finish this weekend, and in the top 15. He said he is coming in with the right attitude, knowing it won't be easy. He will be competing with some of the best drivers in the world. AJ said he is learning as much as he can.
The two races he is running with BDR, NHIS and Talladega, were selected because they fit in with his Champ Car schedule. Running them doesn't mean that he won't be returning to Champ Cars next season. He is still focused on Champ Cars and he wants to do well in that series. His Forsythe contract is now for the remainder of the season, as he and the team want to see how well they are in everything. At this point, Allmendinger doesn't have a contract with anyone for next year. He is in talks now with team owner, GERRY FORSYTHE, and 'not really talking with any other teams'.
The Loudon track is 1:058-miles long with 12 turns. The track has been described as Martinsville on steroids. The track qualifying record is 128.819mph, set last year by MATT CRAFTON. Last year's race was won by RICK CRAWFORD' s#14 Circle Bar Ford.
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