NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
CHEEZ-IT 355 AT THE GLEN
WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 7, 2015
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KROGER/BUSH’S BEANS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed his victory at The Glen last season, his opportunity this weekend to make the Chase, his assessment of where his team is at this point in the season and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR MEMORIES FROM LAST YEAR AND YOUR GOALS FOR THE WEEKEND:
“It was pretty cool driving in the racetrack yesterday when we got here and just kind of remembering the last time I was driving out of the racetrack. The amount of joy that I had and just all the feelings and emotions that I had gone through. Those are memories that no matter what happens the rest of my life I will always have. Just to experience something that I’ve worked so hard for in eight or nine years in the Sprint Cup Series between Tad and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty and everybody on this team last year to get that win was really special. But with that said we are in a new year here and we are kind of in the same situation. We want to come here and experience it all over again.”
THIS WEEKEND THERE ARE SEVERAL REALLY GOOD ROAD COURSE RACERS THAT REALLY NEED A WIN TO GET INTO THE CHASE. DOES THE COMPETITION RATCHET UP A LITTLE BIT?
“The thing I’ve learned about the Sprint Cup Series is it doesn’t matter whether somebody needs a win or not. If the opportunity is there he or she is going to go out there to do whatever they can to get the win. It’s no different than last year. The only difference is having the confidence that if it comes down to crunch time like that I’m able to go out there and make it happen. All we can do is go out there and put our racecar on the racetrack this weekend. I feel confident. It’s the same car we had last year here. It’s the same car that we ran at Sonoma and qualified on pole with and had a chance to win. We just go out there and see how today goes. See what kind of racecar we have in practice and try to get a good qualifying run in tomorrow and do everything we can on Sunday. That is what we did last year. If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. If not, then it doesn’t happen. That is what makes the series so fun. I kind of laugh because everybody initially said ‘oh Marcos (Ambrose) isn’t here this should be easy for you.’ I’m like ‘I’m not sure if you guys remember Jeff Gordon was leading when he broke.’ There are a lot of great racecar drivers and you can’t just single out one or two of them that are going to be tough. It makes it a lot of fun. I know I have to go out there and be on my A game to have a shot to win this thing.”
IS THERE AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF PRESSURE ON YOU NOW TO WIN ON SUNDAY BECAUSE YOU ARE COMING BACK HERE AS RETURNING CHAMPION?
“No more pressure than I put on myself. In the end I can read the good or bad of what people think and all that, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s just pressure on myself to go out there and perform. Trying to equal that pressure with the fact that all I can do is go out there and do my best and we can do our best as a race team. Like I said, I feel like if we go out there and we perform at our best and we make all the right decisions, we will legitimately have a shot to win again. That is all you can ask for. If you put yourself in that position and it happens then great. If not, then you move on. It’s just a race. We can go out there and try everything that we have. Whether it’s pressure to make the Chase or win the race it is no more pressure than what I add to myself. That is all I care about. I believe in myself, more importantly my team owners and my team believe in me. That is all I need to go out there and feel confident.”
CAN YOU COMPARE WHERE YOUR RACE TEAM WAS LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME TO WHERE THEY ARE NOW? HOW MUCH HAS THE TEAM CHANGED?
“Last year we had tested here. I had confidence in the fact that I thought we had a great test and we were going to unload and have a good car. But at that point we were really kind of on a… we had hit a lull big time. We were struggling. I remember Pocono the weekend before we crashed and it was like everything was coming apart at the seams it felt like. We were struggling. At that point it was kind of on one side I was confident that we were going to have a good car from the test, but on the other side the momentum that we had there was none there. Just trying to equal that out. This year if you look at the points, yeah, we are probably in the same spot. I look at it in a completely different way. We have had our struggles as well over the last couple of months.
“Last week we finally had some good luck on our side and made some good decisions. Brian (Burns, crew chief) did a great job with the call to stay out later to make sure we had more fuel at the end to get a top 10. But I think our equipment is better, our communication and progression as a race team is better. We have had a lot more bad luck just in general. Last year we just weren’t running well. But it really comes down to last year at this time I had never won a Sprint Cup race. To say when it comes down to time and if the opportunity is there what does it feel like? ‘Well I don’t know, I’ve never done it before.’ I know what it feels like now and I know what I have to do to put myself in that position. For that reason I think it’s a lot different from last year.”
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED FOR YOU AND THE TEAM AFTER LAST YEARS WIN?
“I mean I think as a team we are a lot closer. We believe in ourselves even through the downs. It’s one of those things that we know we have to stick together. Talking about last year I felt like our first year fully working together, trying to figure out each other and trying to have that confidence in each other. Especially when it’s down it was a struggle. This year even through our struggles, I think there have been some challenging times. But, we all believe in each other and we all trust in each other as a team to know that we are all trying to go in the right direction. We just got to figure out how to get there. Last year I think we were all kind of trying to figure out even which direction we were going. That win has helped a lot and it’s made us believe in each other and trust each other. Even in the down times so far this year that we have had at times we have stuck together a lot better and we have worked in the right direction. Whether it’s from Tad (Geschickter) all the way on down to everybody in our race shop just that trust factor is way better. Even if the points don’t show it right now we are a lot better of a race team than we were at this time last year.”
DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM HAS THE SAME ATTITUDE AS YOU HAVE ABOUT THIS WEEKEND?
“I look at our race team and I’m the hardest guy on myself. They are always pumping me up because I never want to let them down. When it comes to the approach I really believe that they understand that if they give me a good enough car and we do the right things we are going to have a shot to win. But I put that on my shoulders to go out there and perform to make sure we up our game to have an opportunity to win and experience all the great things that we did last year. Whether it was the win or going through the Chase format and just being associated with all the biggest names in the sport. I think they are actually probably a lot calmer than I am. They just kind of know what the deal is and know if we do the right things that I’m going to go out there and give us a chance to win. They are way more laid back than I am. Or at least they hide it better. Let’s put it that way. I’m sure they are all tense as well, they just hide it better.”
IF YOU GET IN THE CHASE THIS YEAR HAVING GONE THROUGH THAT EXPERIENCE ONCE LEARNING WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS THIS A TEAM YOU THINK COULD ADVANCE THROUGH THE CHASE FORMAT?
“We definitely have to get better. The great thing is the pipeline of racecars that we have through the rest of the year, for the most part, is pretty new cars. Last week was a brand new car. I think next week at Michigan is going to be a brand new car. So, our equipment is going to be a lot better if we have the opportunity to get into the Chase than it was last year. But I really believe looking at what Ryan Newman did last year it gives you a whole different outlook on what you have to do going into the Chase and as the Chase starts. Because I think everybody was kind of unsure like ‘okay how is this going to play out.’ Of course it would be great to go win, but do you have to go win to keep advancing or how is this going to work? Ryan Newman showed all you have to do is be hot at the right time and be consistent enough just to keep advancing. I think we all looked at the No. 31 team it wasn’t the team that you would have chosen to have a shot to win the championship at the start of those 10 races. But they did a great job and Ryan did a great job to never put themselves in a bad position to lose points.
“If we get into the Chase that is kind of how I look at it, you don’t have to be the best team you just have to be good enough each race to advance. Then you just have to be the best team out of those four when you get to Homestead. But that is so far down the line. We’ve got a job to do this weekend. If it happens then we will start looking ahead and if not it still comes down to we try to put our best foot forward for the last 14 or 15 races. There are still how many races left to try to make the Chase and if not you still try to finish as high as you can at the end of the season in points. That is what it comes down to. Can’t look too far ahead.”
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