Allmendinger Starting 11th in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600

May 25, 2012

CONCORD, N.C. (May 24, 2012) – After claiming the pole for last week’s Sprint Showdown here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger returned to the track today looking to win the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.  However, his qualifying lap of 28.372 seconds (190.328 mph) was only fast enough to claim the 11th starting spot and now his Todd Gordon-led team’s full focus is getting their No. 22 Dodge Charger dialed in for the race.

“We’ve just got to keep working on it,” Allmendinger said after the qualifying session had concluded.  “The car is not bad.  It’s got a lot of speed in it, obviously.  You kind of get spoiled last week with our Dodge being so good so we’ve got to keep working on it.  It’s not far off.  There are a lot of good qualities about it but I’m a little bit disappointed to end where we did.  That was a good lap for Aric (pole-winner Aric Almirola), but I really thought that we could have a chance at it.

“We’ve been fighting too loose all day,” Dinger said.  “(I) Fought it in my last qualifying run and my last practice run it was really bad, it was really loose, and it was loose again.  The good qualities about the cars, if we can keep them and get the rear in the racetrack, I think we’ll be just as fast as last week.  We’ve just got to keep working on it.”

Almirola picked up the Coors Light Pole Award here tonight with his fast lap of 27.988 seconds (192.940 mph).  Marcos Ambrose made it an all Richard Petty Motorsports front row by taking the outside-front-row spot with a lap of 28.184 seconds (191.598 mph).  Jimmie Johnson (lap of 28.217 seconds/191.374 mph), Greg Biffle (28.234 seconds/191.259 mph) and Clint Bowyer (28.243 seconds/191.198 mph) rounded out the top-five qualifiers.

Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard and Regan Smith completed the top-10.  Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski starts the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge from the 24th spot (qualifying lap of 28.591 seconds/188.871 mph).

Dinger knows the importance of getting his Dodge dialed in here in Saturday’s practice sessions.

“The way these green flags have run so much that you’ve got to be spot-on from the start of the race,” AJ said.  “Even in a long 600-mile race like this if there’s not a lot of yellow flags you can find yourself a couple of laps down really quick and that makes for a long night.  But I don’t think we’re going to have worry about that.  I think we’ve got enough speed in the car.  We just have to keep fine-tuning it.  The biggest problem is that none of the practice sessions are really relevant for what time we race.  We’ll go back to the drawing board and luckily we’re not far off.  I’m more disappointed about not having a chance at the pole but I think we’re close.  We’ll keep talking and they’ve got a full day to come up with some magic and then we’ll be ready on Saturday.” 

There is no action scheduled here at CMS on Friday.  Saturday’s schedule calls for practice from 10:00 a.m. till 10:55 a.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 1:00 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV).  Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (400 laps, 600 miles) on the 1.5-mile quad-oval track is scheduled to get the green flag just after 6:00 p.m.  The Coca-Cola 600 will feature live coverage by FOX-TV and PRN Radio beginning at 5:00 p.m. EDT.