Ride along with Marcos Ambrose and A.J . Allmendinger as they battle it out for the win and a chance at a Chase spot.
See which drivers will run at the Sprint Cup Series' second stop at Loudon RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 1 Jamie McMurray Felix Sabates Keith Rodden 14 Chevrolet Belkin/WEMO 2 2 Brad Keselowski Roger Penske Paul Wolfe 14 Ford Miller Lite 3 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Gil Martin 14 Chevrolet Cheerios 4 4 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Rodney Childers 14 Chevrolet Budweiser Designate a Driver 5 5 Kasey Kahne Linda Hendrick Kenny Francis 14 Chevrolet Time Warner Cable 6 7 Michael Annett Tommy Baldwin Kevin Manion 14 Chevrolet Feed the Children Chevrolet 7 9 Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Drew Blickensderfer 14 Ford STANLEY 8 10 Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Tony Gibson 14 Chevrolet GoDaddy 9 11 Denny Hamlin J D Gibbs Darian Grubb 14 Toyota FedEx Ground 10 13 Casey Mears Bob Germain Bootie Barker III 14 Chevrolet No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 11 14 Tony Stewart Margaret Haas Chad Johnston 14 Chevrolet Code 3 Associates / Mobil 1 12 15 Clint Bowyer Rob Kauffman Brian Pattie 14 Toyota 5-Hour Energy 13 16 Greg Biffle Jack Roush Matt Puccia 14 Ford Ortho 14 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr John Henry Michael Kelley 14 Ford EcoPower Oil 15 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Dave Rogers 14 Toyota M&M's 16 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Jason Ratcliff 14 Toyota Dollar General 17 22 Joey Logano Walter Czarnecki Todd Gordon 14 Ford Shell Pennzoil 18 23 Alex Bowman Ron Devine Dave Winston 14 Toyota Dr. Pepper Toyota 19 24 Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick Alan Gustafson 14 Chevrolet Drive To End Hunger 20 26 Cole Whitt Anthony Marlowe Randy Cox 14 Toyota Rinnai 21 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Slugger Labbe 14 Chevrolet Sylvania / Menards 22 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Luke Lambert 14 Chevrolet Quicken Loans 23 32 Timmy Hill Frank Stoddard Jr Ben Leslie 14 Ford US Chrome 24 33 David Stremme Joe Falk Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet Little Joe's Autos 25 34 David Ragan Bob Jenkins Jay Guy 14 Ford TACO BELL 26 36 Reed Sorenson Allan Heinke Todd Parrott 14 Chevrolet American Muscle Driving Experience Chevrolet 27 38 David Gilliland Brad Jenkins Frank Kerr 14 Ford CLEAN HARBORS 28 40 Landon Cassill(i) Michael Hillman Mark Hillman 14 Chevrolet Snap Fitness 29 41 Kurt Busch Gene Haas Daniel Knost 14 Chevrolet Haas Automation 30 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Chris Heroy 14 Chevrolet Target 31 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Trent Owens 14 Ford Smithfield 32 47 A J Allmendinger Tad Geschickter Brian Burns 14 Chevrolet Bush's Beans 33 48 Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon Chad Knaus 14 Chevrolet Lowe's 34 51 Justin Allgaier Harry Scott Jr Steve Addington 14 Chevrolet PlanBSales.com 35 55 Brian Vickers Michael Waltrip Billy Scott 14 Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 36 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Jay Robinson Scott Eggleston 14 Toyota Land Castle Title 37 77 Corey Lajoie(i) Randy Humphrey Steve Lane 14 Ford Fochler Veterans Law 38 78 Martin Truex Jr Barney Visser Todd Berrier 14 Chevrolet Furniture Row 39 83 Ryan Truex Ron Devine Joe Williams 14 Toyota Burger King Toyota 40 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Rick Hendrick Steve Letarte 14 Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew 41 93 Travis Kvapil Wayne Press Doug Richert 14 Toyota Iowa City Capital Partners Toyota 42 98 Josh Wise Mike Curb Gene Nead 14 Chevrolet Phil Parsons Racing 43 99 Carl Edwards Jack Roush James Fennig 14 Ford Aflac MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Driver talks past, future in interview RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated AJ Allmendinger has seen his share of adversity during nearly a decade in NASCAR. Two years ago, he hit the lowest point in his career after a failed drug test led him out of Team Penske and into NASCAR's Road to Recovery program. Chastened, the 32-year-old driver kick-started the second chapter of his career by winning two Nationwide races last year for Roger Penske. Allmendinger is now back in the Cup Series trying to push JTG Daugherty's program and his career to the next level. We caught up with Allmendinger a day after the No. 47 was swept up in an early wreck at Daytona. Just two weeks earlier, he'd led a race-high 34 laps at Sonoma before contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr . derailed his shot at for a first Cup victory and the Chase berth that would've come with it. NI: You're known as a strong road racer but what are your thoughts on plate racing? Allmendinger : Out of all the racing we do, it's my least favorite. There's just so much that goes into it. A lot of it's luck, being in the right place at the right time and missing the "big one." The racing can be exciting at times for sure. As a driver, you definitely have to be at full concentration the whole time you're out there when you're in the pack just because one 2-inch mistake can be a big, big crash. Especially if you're the one making that mistake, you feel bad because you wrecked yourself and you've got a lot of competitors that you feel bad about because they're probably pissed off at you. NI: You had a car that could have won at Sonoma before you were taken out. Does it take long to get over that? Allmendinger : I don't know if you ever fully get over it. To a certain degree, in this sport, you gotta be ready to go the next weekend. You can't let a bad weekend carry over into the next weekend. It's tough because I thought we had a shot to win. We were up front, top two cars every practice session and qualifying, led the most laps, played the strategy to what ours was and we just got into an incident. It is what it is. You can't fix it. NI: If you can get that first win, you're all but in the Chase. No added pressure there? Allmendinger : Honestly, I look at it two different ways. The Chase would be great for the fact that our sponsors and this race team being such a small team, to be able to promote that we won a race and are in the Chase, that would be fantastic. But when it comes to, "Do we have to make the Chase for it to be a successful season?" No. We're not a championship-winning team right now. There's no doubt about it. We're a small team, we're trying to grow to that at some point and it's going to be a long process to get there and a lot of hard work. I think with the right effort we can actually get there. NI: It might sound like a strange question but are you almost glad things played out the way they did back in 2012? Allmendinger : Except for the mere fact of having to put Roger Penske through that. Other than that, I'm way happier now than I have ever been when it comes to a lot of things. I still put a lot of pressure on myself racing, so I still have those ups and downs, but it's a different kind of pressure now. The ownership just makes this team such a family. I want to take this team to a new level. That's the pressure I put on myself, to put this team on my back and take it to another level. I feel like they deserve it down from ownership and the team because they work so hard. NI: How has your perspective changed in the past couple of years? Allmendinger : It's a different perspective now. It's not the only thing in the world, you know? There are other things that are important and in the grand scheme probably a lot more important than racing. But obviously when you make your life and you put your heart and soul into it, it feels like the most important thing. I wouldn't change anything that I've had to go through for anything except for disappointing Roger Penske. Hopefully, last year, winning the Nationwide races and having a shot to win Indy made up for it. NI: It's our tailgate issue, so I have to ask about your abilities on the grill. Can we call you a grilling master? Allmendinger : No (laughs). We can lie to everybody and tell them I can grill anything up. Only problem is hopefully I won't get called out on it. I really enjoy grilling because it is so healthy to be able to do that and I'm real health conscious when it comes to what I eat. The sponsors we have on our team are great when it comes to all that. So it makes it a lot easier because we’re stocked with a lot of great things to eat. I live in an apartment right now so it's hard to grill in the corner without a balcony. My girlfriend is really good at grilling so she's shown me some stuff. Hopefully, in the near future, I can have a house and practice up but right now it'd be a stretch to say grilling master. I'd like to be. Let's put it that way. NI: It's hard to believe you've been in NASCAR for almost a decade now. What's been your personal highlight so far? Allmendinger : The Nationwide wins were something I'll never forget, especially with what led to those. I remember making my first race at Bristol -- it took me four tries to finally make a race -- back in 2007 when there were 50 or 60 cars trying to qualify each weekend. Making our first Daytona 500 in 2009 and almost winning the thing. ( Allmendinger finished third in the No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge.) But I think the highlight is still being here really. This sport is tough. It will bring some guys in, especially with the open-wheel side of it, and spit them back out pretty quick. So to have the commitment level and just the do-or-die work ethic trying to stay in when things were bad and things got better and things got bad again, and keep coming back, I feel very fortunate that people believe in me. Whether it's the "King" or the "Captain" or Tad (Geschickter) to give me another shot to jump in this race car and feel like I can get the job done now. More than anything, just being able to still be a part of it through thick and thin is something that's probably the most special. SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Allmendinger talks about the highlights of 2011 and his goals on making the Chase next year.
CONCORD, N.C. -- Best Buy Co., and Richard Petty Motorsports on Tuesday announced their continued partnership for the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season that extends the consumer electronics retailer's status as primary sponsor of the No. 43 driven by A.J . Allmendinger . "Best Buy is proud to renew our relationship with Richard Petty Motorsports and driver A.J . Allmendinger for the 2011 season," said Drew Panayiotou, senior vice president, marketing, Best Buy. "Richard Petty is a motorsports icon and is well respected within the sport of NASCAR. Being a part of a team with his leadership is a privilege. We will be doing some innovative work with Richard Petty Motorsports surrounding our sponsorship, creating new and fun ways to engage the fans. We look forward to continuing our support of A.J . and the No. 43 team as they strive to make their way to Victory Lane." Best Buy will be the primary sponsor for 24 Sprint Cup Series events in 2011 and will be featured as the primary sponsor for two non-points events, the Duel and the Sprint All-Star Race. In addition, Best Buy will serve as an associate sponsor for the No. 9 driven by Marcos Ambrose. The deal marks the company's second year with Allmendinger and its seventh year in NASCAR. "It's great to have Best Buy back on board our No. 43 Ford," Allmendinger said. "They have been a great partner and I'm really excited about the opportunity to work with an organization that is as passionate about its racing program as I am. I think this is going to be a great year for this Richard Petty Motorsports team and I can't wait to get the Best Buy Ford into Victory Lane." Allmendinger is coming off a season in which he compiled two top-five finishes and eight top-10s. In addition, he scored his first career pole at Phoenix. Allmendinger finished season 19th in points, a career best.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Fully committed to earning the best possible result in the team's eighth consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona outing, Michael Shank Racing will stage the strongest campaign in team history with three Daytona Prototype entries for the 49th running of the endurance classic on Jan. 29-30. On Friday, team owner Mike Shank announced the driver lineup for the third entry, with the No. 6 Ford-Dallara being driven Sprint Cup Series drivers A.J . Allmendinger and Michael McDowell and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson. The 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona will mark Allmendinger's sixth attempt in the Rolex 24. He has led every race that he has started, with a best result of second, which he shared with Wilson in 2006. Wilson has three starts in the event, and will look to improve his own personal best, having twice run to the checkered flag in the overall runner-up position. "I've been telling Mike that I am not going to stop trying to win this race until we get to the top, and hopefully we can do that this year," Allmendinger said. "Mike Shank runs a great team, and this race is what his entire organization is all about. I can't even describe how much I want to win this race. Getting so close the first time out, and having led it as much as we have only makes me want it that much more." McDowell has Grand-Am experience stretching back to 2004, as the Phoenix native broke through for his first Daytona Prototype victory one year later in Mexico City. While his motorsports career has seen him show speed in everything from open wheel machines to the Cup Series, his participation in the Rolex 24 has remained constant, with three top-10 finishes in four starts. "Starting the year with the Rolex 24 is a great way to kick the season off," McDowell said. "I've been fortunate to run the 24 with some strong driver lineups, but I feel like this is the best effort that I've been a part of. Mike Shank's cars are always very fast at Daytona and the team does an excellent job preparing the cars."
A.J . Allmendinger suffered a flat tire before the green flag, but battled back to finish second and transfer into the All-Star Race.
A.J . Allmendinger saves the fuel needed to capture back-to-back Nationwide roadcourse wins.
A.J . Allmendinger spins off Turn 4 and ends up tearing the front end off the No. 51.
Allmendinger plans to lay low for a Chase shock factor