Allmendinger Starting Outside Pole In AAron's 499

May 5, 2012

TALLADEGA. Ala. (May 5, 2012) – Shell-Pennzoil/AAA Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger will start Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 from the outside pole after clocking in with a lap of 50.107 seconds (191.111` mph) in Saturday’s qualifying session.  Sunday’s starting position will mark Dinger’s third front row start this season.

“The Shell-Pennzoil/AAA Dodge qualifying run was a little surprising,” Allmendinger said after climbing from his Dodge Charger behind pit road.  “I didn’t get to make a full-blown Q (qualifying) run yesterday, so we weren’t really sure what we had.  It had nothing to do with me.  All the guys in the Penske organization back at the engine shop, everybody that design these cars and puts the horsepower under them; it shows them off on a day like this.  It’s really cool to see that we’ve got some speed.  I don’t think that will be pole, but it was a good surprise.  It’s really cool to see the Shell-Pennzoil/AAA Dodge have this much speed.  It shows the effort everybody in the Penske organization puts in these race cars.  It was a good lap for sure.  It shows we have a lot of horsepower and a fast racecar for tomorrow.”

The Todd Gordon-led No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge team got little track time here yesterday as they worked in the garage to remedy a clearance issue in the early practice and played it on the safe side in replacing several electrical components in the final practice.

“Here, there’s no strategy,” Dinger told the media members after qualifying had concluded.  “You just pray that you’re there at the end when it comes down to it.  It’s still early in the season.  For us, we have had fast racecars every weekend.  We’ve had a lot of little mechanical failures.  Last week, we missed on a long-run setup a little bit and that’s what killed us at the end.  More importantly, we’ve got to keep doing the same things we’re doing and keep improving on it.

“Obviously, I’m the first to say I’m not happy where we’re at in points,” Dinger said.  “I put a lot of pressure on myself.  I don’t have a lot of it from the race team because they know, Roger especially knows, all the things that have happened is why we are where we’re at in points.  It’s not indicative of how fast we’ve been and what kind of speed we’ve had this whole year.  We’ve just got to put a whole race together.  It takes time to do that.  Some have been self-induced with mechanical failures.  Last week, we know what happened.  We missed the setup a little bit on long runs.

“The more important thing is that we have speed in our racecars,” AJ added.  “Even when we’re at our worst right now, we’re running 15th or 16th.     And when we’re at our best, we’re inside the top five.  We just have to keep doing those things and put a whole race together.  This weekend, it’s kind of a crapshoot, so whatever happens happens.  Next week at Darlington, that’s the focus – keep doing the things we’re doing and keep improving on them.”

Jeff Gordon used a different line than the others in his qualifying run – running the low line almost throughout his warm-up lap and the two circuits against the clock – and came away with the Coors Light Pole Award here today.  His fast lap was 49.973 seconds (191.623 mph).  Marcos Ambrose (lap of 50.126 seconds/191.039 mph) will start third, with Aric Almirola (50.141/190.981) fourth and Kasey Kahne (50.196/190.772) fifth.  Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip and Matt Kenseth rounded out today’s top-10 qualifiers.

Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski will start the Miller Lite Dodge from the 13th spot after clocking in with a lap of 50.381 seconds (190.072 mph).

“The impound race here levels out a lot of the qualifying stuff teams can do that we try to stay above board on,” crew chief Gordon said.  “I’m proud of the guys.  It’s an improvement over where we were at Daytona and something that we can build on.  We’ve got to manage water temperature with the heat we have here and the restricted radiator opening.  We only had one opportunity to draft yesterday, so it’s a bit of an unknown.  It’s the same package we had at Daytona.  These two tracks (Daytona and Talladega) are very much alike, so I feel we’ll be all right come drafting time.  We just need to take care of our stuff, stay out of trouble and see what we have at the end.”