AJ Allmendinger Starts 15th in Sunday's Phoenix Battle

March 3, 2012

AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 3, 2012) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger will start Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 from the 15th position, after turning in a lap of 26.810 seconds (134.278 mph) in qualifying here today at Phoenix International Raceway.

“It was okay,” Dinger said of his qualifying effort.  “You know I messed the first lap up pretty bad and at that point the second lap was just survival.  I mean, the track is so slick out there.  We struggled a bit yesterday and only made one ‘Q-run.’  It could have been a lot worse after that first lap.  It’s okay.  We’ve got some work to do.  (It’s the) First real race with the team.  “(We) definitely got some work to do but the guys are doing a good job.  Tomorrow is going to be about survival so we’ll see where we end up and hopefully we get a good run tomorrow.”

Mark Martin claimed the Coors Light Pole Award here today with a fast lap of 26.313 seconds (136.815 mph).  Tony Stewart starts from the outside of the front row after turning in a lap of 26.446 seconds (136.126 mph).  Regan Smith (26.471 seconds/135.998 mph), Jimmie Johnson (26.552 seconds/135.583 mph) and Juan Pablo Montoya (26.559 seconds/135.547 mph) rounded out today’s top-five qualifiers.

Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne completed the top-10, with Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Marcos Ambrose and Dinger closing out the top-15 qualifiers.  Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski will start his Miller Lite Dodge from the 28th position, after clocking in with a lap of 27.127 seconds (132.709 mph).

“We’ve got to have a good race tomorrow,” said Dinger, looking to bounce back from a 34th-place finish at Daytona last Monday night.  “It’s tough to not put the pressure on yourself that if you go out there and have a bad run that you’re done.  We’ve got to have a solid run.  We can’t put ourselves in too big of a hole.”

Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 (500 kilometers/312 laps) has a 1:00 p.m. local (3:00 p.m. ET) start and features live coverage by FOX-TV, MRN Radio and Sirius/XM NASCAR Channel 90.