Marcos Ambrose and A.J. Allmendinger both know that the road course at Watkins Glen offers them one of their best chances at securing a spot in the 16 member Chase for the Sprint Cup. When asked questions about making the field both have differing thought processes. One will speak about their team in the field, the other says he doesn’t necessarily think about it because he’s not in it yet.
On the same day that it was announced that Kimberly- Clarke was going to stay on board with Allmendinger and the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty for three more years, Allmendinger let us know that the his car owners are still looking for sponsorships. “Tad (Geschickter),” Allmendinger said, “is out there continually trying to work on finding sponsorship and really help build the race team. It doesn’t hurt. The more money you find the more it’s going to help with resources at the race team. He is working hard on that. I know this whole week he has been out there trying to help sell and find more money for the race team. I think we just have to continually grow. Being a one car race team you are always going to be behind. I think it’s just as we add more resources and Tad continually goes out there and tries to find more money for us and Brad (Daugherty) does the same thing. That is going to help, but I think just trying to keep updating our cars.”
Allmendinger was pretty honest with the gathered media saying that he doesn’t think that his team is necessarily up to the task of being a championship team. “When it comes to the Chase side of it,” he said, “It would be great to be in the Chase because it meant we won. That is the only way we are going to get in. When it comes to making the Chase to win a championship with our race team right now I am not sure that we are quite in that realm of saying if we make the Chase we can go win the championship. Anything can happen, but I think to come here and if we were to win to get into the Chase would just be great for all of our sponsors and this race team and to help keep building the race team and promoting it. That is the way I look at it. I don’t look to make the Chase to make the championship, but when it comes to this weekend I feel like after our test here a couple of weeks ago we had a really good test. I feel like if we do the right things we can be in contention to win the race. I don’t want to make it all or nothing. If we don’t win and we have a great top-five, top-three run, but we don’t win I don’t want that to be a disappointing weekend. But like I said, I think if we do the right things, kind of like at Sonoma we had a good shot to win that race, we will have good speed in the race car I believe. We will see what happens.”
For Ambrose, it’s a bit different situation. He has won here at both the Nationwide and Cup level. He said, “I get talked about more and people want to know what I am doing (here). That is a good thing. I don’t have a problem with that. When someone asked him that and started with, “If you made the Chase…” Ambrose was quick to respond, “I hate to be rude but I am not in the chase yet. I just haven’t thought about it. It is pretty straight forward. RPM would love to have both cars in the Chase and that is what we will try to do this weekend.”
Ambrose admitted that the last couple years have been a struggle for him. His 2015 plans are announced and there’s rumors of him exiting NASCAR and heading back home to Australia. “It has been a struggle,” he said. Our first two years before this new body we had really good speed every week and it was a lot of fun. The last couple years have been a challenge. It’s been a grind, no doubt. We are looking for that next step for our team. It is a big step for us to make the Chase with Aric (Almirola). I am driving for the King and driving for Ford and it is great to be part of the series. Just because it is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t great.”
Look for Watkins Glen’s race on both days to be some of the most entertaining to date. There are more than a handful of drivers who can win the race when they have nothing to lose (previous winners) and must win to make the chase. The weather is predicted to be beautiful all weekend, something that is relatively rare in upstate New York. Expect both Allmendinger and Ambrose to be a factor.