Allmendinger Starting 25th in Sunday's Auto Club 400

March 24, 2012

FONTANA, Calif. (March 23, 2012) – AJ Allmendinger, driver of the Penske Racing AAA Dodge Charger, will start Sunday’s Auto Club 400 here at Auto Club Speedway from the 25th position.  Dinger toured the 2.0-mile speedway with a one-lap time of 39.443 seconds (182.542 mph) on his qualifying lap.

“Our AAA Charger was just a little too tight out there today,” offered crew chief Todd Gordon.  “We probably tried to get back on the gas a little early and scrubbed off some speed on the qualifying lap.”

Allmendinger’s fastest lap of practice was 39.549-second circuit here in the 90-minute session that started at 12:00 noon here today.  The qualifying lap was faster, but the team was looking for a bigger gain.

“Yeah, we picked up from practice, but not enough,” said Gordon “We certainly didn’t pick up speed like the guys ahead of us did, that’s for sure.  We’ll work to maximize our time in practice here tomorrow and see how it goes.  We like our AAA Dodge Charger this weekend; we just need to pick up a bit more speed.”

Denny Hamlin picked up the Coors Light Pole Award here this afternoon with his fast lap of 38.626 seconds (186.403 mph).  Kyle Busch was second (lap of 38.807 seconds/182.611 mph), with Mark Martin third (also 38.807 seconds/185.534 mph), Greg Biffle fourth (38.812 seconds/185.510 mph) and Kasey Kahne fifth (also 38.812 seconds/185.510 mph).  Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson rounded out today’s top-10 qualifiers.

Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski, the circuit’s most-recent winner (in last Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol) clocked in with the 17th-fastest lap (39.121 seconds/184.044 mph).

Dinger was already looking at the big picture situation as today’s qualifying session concluded.

“We gotta get the thing overall driving a little bit better,” he said.  “I didn't do a good job on qualifying. We have a couple things to try tomorrow to make it better. Good thing about this place is if you can get the car running good, qualifying doesn't really matter. We're all gonna work hard tomorrow to get the Auto Club of Southern California No.  22. Dodge running better to bring home a strong finish.”

Saturday’s action here at Auto Club Speedway begins with morning practice from 9:30 a.m. till 10:20 a.m.  The final “happy hour” practice session is scheduled from 12:50 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (200 laps, 400 miles) has a scheduled 12:00 noon PDT starting time (3:00 p.m. EDT).  FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.