Moments that changed the course of the 27th race of the 2014 season
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!
Moments that changed the course of the 25th race of the 2014 season
Moments that changed the course of the 26th race of the 2014 season
NASCAR Digital Media also enhancing coverage options for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field was officially set following Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway ® . Now, until 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 14, sports fans can log on to NASCAR.com/Grid to predict how they think the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will transpire by filling out the PERFECT CHASE GRID CHALLENGE . Entrants can achieve the "perfect grid" -- and a chance to win $100,000 -- by accurately selecting each driver who will advance through the different stages of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. They will also need to accurately predict the four drivers who will compete in the Championship Round TM at Homestead-Miami Speedway SM , including who will be crowned the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion™ and the finishing positions of the three runner ups . NASCAR.com's other prediction game, CHASE GRID TM BATTLE, is also now live at NASCAR.com/Grid . In the CHASE GRID BATTLE, fans will still predict which drivers they think will advance through the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but one round at a time. Points will be accumulated based on the number of correct picks and the correct ranking amongst advancing drivers. Prizes will be awarded to four individual round winners, as well as the top three overall. In addition to the Chase Grid games, NASCAR Digital Media will also offer enhanced race coverage and additional updates across the digital platform during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. New Live Leaderboards NASCAR.com has launched brand new interactive live leaderboards just in time for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. New live leaderboard capabilities include: · New Design – Easy-to-follow layout for a more enjoyable race day, second screen experience · Customized Leaderboard – Fans may select and pin their drivers to the top or create their very own leaderboard with the just the drivers they want to follow · New Data Feed from Race Control – Raw data feeds from practice, qualifying and the race let fans experience the live events from the Officials’ points of view · Full National Series Coverage – Coverage includes events across all three NASCAR national series LIVE STREAMING NASCAR.com will provide fans with live streaming options for several events throughout the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, including: · A live chat with Miss Sprint Cup and all 16 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers from Chase Media Day in Chicago from 2 to 5 p.m. ET this Thursday · Live stream of Chase Grid Live, a live show featuring all 16 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, on Thursday following Chase Media Day from 6 to 7:30 p.m. ET · Live stream of Contender Media Day taking place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame the week heading into the Contender Round · Live stream of Eliminator Media Day taking place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame the week heading in to the Eliminator Round · Live stream of Championship Media Day on Wednesday, Nov. 12 from Trump National Doral Miami · Live post-race show from Homestead-Miami Speedway after the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion is crowned NASCAR MOBILE And NASCAR RACEVIEW ® MOBILE Apps Premium content for both official NASCAR apps is now available to fans at a deep discount during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup: NASCAR MOBILE: · $5.99 Chase Pass for the remainder of the 2014 season · New "Chase Standings" section, which includes the new Chase Grid that highlights each driver as they attempt to advance through each round of the 2014 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup · Updated live leaderboard will feature additional Chase indicators and highlights for each eligible Chase driver · All new 2014 Manufacturer Standings NASCAR RACEVIEW MOBILE: · $9.99 Chase Pass for the remainder of the season · All new Chase Grid will feature each round for the 2014 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup · Updated 3D versions of the Chase cars on-track each week · Chase indicators will be incorporated throughout the app and live leaderboard Download or update to the newest version of both NASCAR apps in order to receive these new features. Sprint customers on an unlimited data plan will receive access to all Live Premium features at no additional cost. The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins this weekend with the MyAFibStory.com 400 from Chicagoland Speedway ® on Sunday, September 14 at 2 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN, WatchESPN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, with additional coverage on NASCAR.com. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Moments that changed the course of the 23rd race of the 2014 season
Moments that changed the course of the 22nd race of the 2014 season
Moments that changed the course of the 24th race of the 2014 season