Allmendinger To Start Second in the Food City 500

March 16, 2012

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2012) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger will start second in Sunday’s Food City 500 here at Bristol Motor Speedway, after turning in a lap of 15.325 seconds (125.207 mph).  Greg Biffle claimed today’s Coors Light Pole Award with a lap of 15.324 seconds (125.215 mph). 

“It’s been a good day overall,” said Allmendinger, who missed winning the pole by one one-thousandth of a second.  “This has never really been a place I was good at, so ultimately to come here and do this well is great.  Todd Gordon and everybody at the Penske Organization gave me a great setup from the start.  We tested this week and learned some things and came here and were able to put ‘em on the race car.   

“Really, we just had a solid day overall from race trim to qualifying,” Dinger added.  “We’ve had a tough start to the season.  Definitely not the way we imagined it when we signed this, but you know it’s still early on and Todd Gordon and I are gelling.  It’s been a lot of bad luck on our side.  Hopefully, this is just a good day to kick us off and really kind of start a stretch of the season where we can kind of get in a rhythm, get in a flow and get some momentum built up.” 

The best qualifying effort prior to today for Dinger was 10th for the August 2010 night race.  He had never qualified any better than 23rd for the spring race here prior to today.  He knows the future is bright for his Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team. 

 “We’ve had such a tough start to the season,” Dinger told the media gathered in the media center for his post-qualifying Q & A session.  “Everybody has been working so hard; the whole Penske organization and Dodge.  You know, we’ve had some fast race cars.  We just haven’t been able to complete ‘em, just stuff that’s been out of our own control.  Fuel pump issues last week they’ve (team) worked hard to fix.  We came here and Todd Gordon (Crew Chief) gave me a good race car.  Man, so close.  I would have loved to have got the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge up front on the pole, but overall it was such a good day.  I’m trying to relax a little bit.  I’m not doing very well at it.  We’ve got a good group of guys here and we’re gelling together.  Hopefully this is the beginning.”   

 Ryan Newman will start third here on Sunday after clocking in with a lap of 15.331 seconds (125.158 mph), with Jeff Gordon (15.340 seconds/125.085 mph) fourth and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski (15.367 seconds/124.865 mph) fifth.  Regan Smith, Aric Almirola, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne rounded out today’s top-10 qualifiers. 

The action here at Bristol Motor Speedway continues on Saturday with scheduled practices from 9:30 a.m. till 10:25 a.m. and from 12:00 noon till 1:00 p.m.  Sunday’s Food City 500 (500 laps, 266.5 miles) has a 1:00 p.m. ET start and features live coverage by FOX-TV, PRN Radio and Sirius/XM NASCAR Channel 90.