Allmendinger Starting 17th in Sunday's Sonoma Battle

June 23, 2012

SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2012) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger will start Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 from the 17th position after clocking in with a lap of 76.064 seconds (94.184 mph) in today’s qualifying session at Sonoma Raceway.  Dinger was 11th-fastest in the practice leading up to qualifying and was hoping for more.

“I'm not sure what direction to go or what we're missing,” Allmendinger said.  “What we learned from testing isn't translating as fully as we were expecting. The whole platform of the car just seems unsettled. I could tell from the start of the lap that we were off but I pushed to get as much as we could. Obviously, we expected to be higher up there, but we will go back and reevaluate what we need. I think we need to focus on the front end and if we can get that better I think it will carry through the car.”

Dinger, crew chief Todd Gordon and the No. 22 Penske Racing unit have two practice sessions remaining to get their Dodge Charger dialed in for Sunday’s race.  Saturday’s schedule calls for practice from 9:30 a.m. till 10:15 a.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 10:45 a.m. till 12 noon (live on Speed-TV).

Marcos Ambrose picked up the second Coors Light Pole Award of his career here this afternoon – and his second in-a-row after winning the pole last week at Michigan.  Ambrose clocked in with a 75.203-second (95.262 mph) lap in smashing the old track qualifying record (75.950 seconds).  The top 11 qualifiers broke the old record here today.

Jeff Gordon, fastest in practice and the final driver to make his run, qualified second with a lap of 75.357 seconds (95.067 mph).  Jimmie Johnson was third (lap of 75.574 seconds/94.795 mph), Greg Biffle fourth (75.632/94.722) and Martin Truex Jr. fifth (75.661/94.686).

Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman rounded out today’s top-10 qualifiers.  Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski will start his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge from the 13th spot after clocking in with a lap of 75.995 seconds (94.269 mph)

Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 (110 laps) on the 1.99-mile scenic Sonoma road course is scheduled to get the green just after 12:00 noon PDT. The race will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and PRN Radio.