AJ Allmendinger Wins Pole for Sprint Showdown

May 18, 2012

CONCORD, N.C. (May 18, 2012) – AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing, will start Saturday’s Sprint Showdown from the pole position after turning in a fast lap of 28.057 seconds (192.465 mph).  Dinger’s run here at Charlotte Motor Speedway in this afternoon’s qualifying session was more than two-tenths of a second faster than second-place Martin Truex Jr.’s lap (28.265 seconds/191.049 mph).

“It was kind of an interesting day,” Allmendinger offered after posting the fastest lap.  “Our Dodge had speed in it, but I never really felt comfortable with it.  Just trying to figure out what areas we needed to work on.  That was the problem; we kind of fought every area at one point.  Todd Gordon and the guys, they went to work and we tried to come together and put all the notes we had from the practice session.  The car was perfect in qualifying.  Forty hard laps tomorrow and we’ll see what we have.”

Allmendinger knows what it’s like in winning the Showdown and advancing to the All-Star Race, accomplishing that in 2008.  He is quick to recognize the stiff competition he faces here tomorrow night in his effort to repeat that feat.

“Of course,” said AJ.  “You know there’s still fast guys in there.  You look at (Martin) Truex and (Dale Earnhardt) Jr.  You can argue that’s two of the best guys in the Sprint Cup Series and they’re in the Showdown.  To go win the thing, it’s always nice to get a victory even if it’s not against everybody but more importantly, to win the thing you have a chance to go win the important one.  I got the win in ’08 and it’s an amazing feeling.  Everybody on this race car, everybody with this organization, my pit crew, my road crew, everybody back at the shop, they deserve to have this car in the All-Star race so I’m going to do everything I can.  Hopefully, we have a chance at the end of 40 laps to get in the show and if we do that, then we’ll have a fun night.”

Earnhardt Jr. (lap of 28.272 seconds/191.012 mph) will start third, with Jeff Burton (28.467/189.693) fourth and Aric Almirola (28.609/188.752) fifth.  Landon Cassill, Juan Pablo Montoya, Bobby Labonte, Travis Kvapil and David Stremme round out Saturday night’s top-10 starters.

Saturday’s Sprint Showdown (20 laps/20 laps – 40 total laps) here at Charlotte Motor Speedway begins at 7:30 p.m., with the top-two finishers and winner of the special Sprint “fan vote” advancing to the All-Star Race.  The Sprint All-Star Race will begin at approximately 9:00 p.m.  This year’s exciting battle consists of four 20-lap segments, concluding with a 10-lap sprint and a $1 million payout to the race winner. This year's format will place a higher premium for drivers who win one of the four segments, however, as the winners of the first four segments will move to the front of the field and line up 1-4 prior to the field coming to pit road for the final mandatory pit stop.  Live coverage will be provided by SPEED-TV and MRN Radio.