April 21, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Kans. (April 21, 2012) – AAA Dodge Charger driver AJ Allmendinger will start on the pole for Sunday’s STP 400 here at Kansas Speedway after claiming the Coors Light Pole Award in today’s qualifying session.  Allmendinger turned in the day’s fast lap of 30.683 seconds (175.993 mph) around this 1.5-mile tri-oval track.

“Every step we’re getting closer,” Allmendinger said after claiming the second pole position of his career.  “Todd Gordon and I are gelling together as driver-crew chief. The whole team is gelling. More than anything, I just love being a part of this race team. I put a lot of pressure on my shoulders to go out there and win races, win poles for these guys, because they’re so use to it. I put a lot of that on me. To get a pole like this and get in the Shootout and just keep building the momentum, it’s a big deal today. The important day is tomorrow, but today we’re the best. That’s all that matters.”

Kevin Harvick starts on the outside pole here on Sunday after turning in a lap of 30.726 seconds (175.747 mph).  Joey Logano, the first driver to make his run, clocked in with a lap of 30.730 seconds (175.724 mph) to claim the third starting spot.  Denny Hamlin (lap of 30.740 seconds/175.667 mph) will start fourth and Mark Martin (30.772 seconds/175.484 mph) starts fifth.

Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Penske Racing’s Sam Hornish Jr. (laps of 30.842 seconds/175.086 mph) rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.  Penske teammate Brad Keselowski will start 11th after turning in a lap of 30.846 seconds (175.086 mph).

“I definitely think that anytime that you do something together, especially when it’s our first-time thing, it’s really important,” Dinger said of the impact winning the pole can have on his team.  “Like I said, we still have to go out tomorrow. If we go out tomorrow and struggle, it’s not going to mean as much. Ultimately, to get a pole together, we were close at Bristol and to get one here because it was actually a little bit surprising for myself, it’s always a good thing.

“It takes little things to build momentum. It’s not one giant thing. It’s just little things at a time. Hopefully, a top-10 run tomorrow. Hopefully, we get the chance to win the race. Just a solid day tomorrow, just little things to keep building on.  We’re getting closer. We’re definitely not where we all want to be right now, running up front every weekend.

“We’re getting closer,” Dinger said.  “We just need to get faster throughout a whole race. We’re still working together and I think that’s what people don’t really understand. It’s tough to be a brand new crew chief in the Cup Series along with a driver coming to a race team for the first time. To figure out what we need together and things like that. The good thing is that the Penske organization builds fast racecars. Dodge is a huge supporter or ours. We know when we do figure it out, we have the potential to win a lot of races. It’s just tough getting to that point. I put all the pressure on my shoulders to be there now. The great thing is that Mr. (Roger) Penske and everybody in the organization is patient. They’re like, ‘It takes time.’ It’s just because these guys deserve it. They’re use to running up front. We’ll get there. It’s a lot of work. We’re not quite there yet. But when we do get there, we’ll have the chance to win a lot of races.”

Allmendinger will be making his sixth career start here at Kansas Speedway on Sunday.  His best starting spot entering today was 14th (in 2008).  His best finish to date here is ninth (also in 2008).

Sunday’s STP 400 (267 Laps, 400.5 miles) has a scheduled 12:00 noon CDT (1:00 p.m. EDT) starting time and features live coverage by FOX-TV and MRN Radio.