A.J. Allmendinger didn’t win last Sunday’s Daytona 500, but he sure felt like he did. Allmendinger, drove his No. 47 Chevrolet to a third place finish in the season opening race, as that finish alone made him feel like he won the race. Now, he’s hoping to continue that momentum through the race in Atlanta this weekend.
Dating back to the end of last year, Allmendinger has five top 10 finishes in his last six starts. Factor that with his recent improvement on 1.5-mile tracks like Atlanta, and you can see why the usual bubbly personality of Allmendinger is even more perkier than normal.
“We definitely made our 1.5-mile program a lot better,” Allmendinger said ahead of this weekend’s race at Atlanta. “The last couple of years, that was by far the biggest weakness. We weren’t even close on the 1.5-mile tracks. Last year, I felt like early in the year we were pretty good. Then we struggled mid-summer, but at the end of the year we really pushed forward and worked on getting downforce. That is what is tough about the 1.5-miles, is the fact that a lot of it is car based. All the speed comes from the shop, building the race cars, getting all those edges fine-tuned just trying to get max downforce into the cars. I felt like last year at the end of the year we really hit on something that made our cars better and we worked on those areas going into Charlotte Motor Speedway, going into Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway to make it better.”
Allmendinger’s crew chief Randall Burnett agrees saying he hopes their momentum picks up where it’s left off at Daytona as well as their 1.5-mile program from last year too.
“We’re trying to make it better and pick up where we left off,” Burnett said. “We had some pretty good momentum on our 1.5-mile program. I’m looking forward to getting down there and seeing how the new rules are going to play out for us and getting to do some normal racing. This will be the last race on the old surface at Atlanta. It will be a new challenge next year. We’re going to work really hard this year on our 1.5-mile program since that’s the majority of the races obviously. I’m ready to get there. We had a fast car there last year and had a couple things knock us out of contention, but overall AJ really enjoys Atlanta.”
The JTG-Daughtery team finished seventh at Atlanta two years ago and followed that up with a sixth at Las Vegas the very next week. Last year, Allmendinger struggled a bit at Atlanta, Vegas and Phoenix but did nab an eighth place effort at Fontana and second place finish at Martinsville.
Now, if he can combined all those good results together this weekend and beyond, he may position himself nicely to make the Playoffs come September even if he doesn’t win a race.