AJ Allmendinger, JTG Daugherty Racing, Bristol Motor Speedway Preview


Track: Bristol Motor Speedway
Race:  Food City 500
Date:  Sunday, April 19th
Time:  1 PM ET


Bristol Motor Speedway: “It’s one of those places you have to prepare yourself for mentally because it is a grind,” Allmendinger said. “There is a lot that can happen that can distract you mentally and that’s the toughest thing. There are certain aspects of the place that I like and some that I don’t like. You just have to be ready mentally to fight for 500 laps and you can’t let your guard down.”

You can run, but you can’t hide: “You have to get into a rhythm during the race,” Allmendinger said. “The track itself is a rhythm track like Martinsville Speedway. Running up top against the fence makes it more difficult. You have to run the top because the bottom is not as good anymore. When you get into a rhythm, it is fun. When you’re not, you can’t hide.”

BUSH’S Beans: “For me and the team, it’s cool that BUSH’S Beans plays a big part at that track and is sponsoring the BUSH’S Beans pole day, but at the same time it adds pressure to perform well,” Allmendinger said.

Don’t jinx it: “Not to jinx ourselves at Bristol, but this year we have really noticed just how good AJ has been to avoid accidents,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “He is focused a lot this year on completing races and getting the best finish out of what we have given him. Bristol is no exception and at that place you have to stay alert and be on top of it. It is probably the most mentally taxing track for a driver. You are constantly nose to tail with cars all around you. If you drop your guard, you end your day.”

Chassis: “We are bringing chassis 386, which is one of our older cars,” Burns said. “We’ve made several modifications and have built this car to be more durable for places like Bristol Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway.”

Learning the crew chief and vice versa: “Last year, I think generally near the end of the year during The Chase, we became more consistent,” Allmendinger said. “The last seven races we hit something that allowed us to be more competitive and kind of work with each other a little better.  I was joking with Brian (Burns) a little this weekend actually. I’m a bit of head case when it comes to just inside my head. I know this is a shocker to the people that know me. The way I look at it, he’s like a girlfriend. It’s taken a long time to try to train him or he’s training me, either one. I’m not sure which one. Maybe, I’m the girlfriend, heck I don’t know. Ultimately, you have to learn each other. He’s a quiet guy. He really is. When you get to talking to him outside the racetrack, he’s fun as he can be and makes me laugh. We have a great time. But in leading a race team, he’s been really quiet about it. I’m on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I’m full tilt. The world is crashing down on us. We have to fix it. So, it has taken time to try to gel together. It makes it a lot of fun. I really enjoy working with him now. He’s told me I’m not allowed to go to another team. I said, ‘Man I’m a head case. It has taken me this long to train you guys, why would I start with a new team now?’ Being on the same page and learning not just the crew chief, but the crew chief learning the driver, it takes a lot. There’ s no secret why a guy like Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson have had so much success together for so long. You have got to build that chemistry and that friendship. When you do that, everything works a lot easier. There are things about me that Brian is learning and I’m trying to always figure out.”

Perfect match: “It’s crucial to learn each other well,” Burns said. “I feel like we complement each other. I calm him down when he is too excited and I need him to pump me up sometimes. When we have tough races, it strengthens our relationship. We are stronger for it after every race we have been through. On a positive note, no matter how good or bad we are during a race, we are comfortable enough to talk to each other openly. Neither one of us will hold back. There’s never any guessing. It’s just like in a marriage. I’m the man and he’s the woman. We have to talk about problems and that’s what makes us stronger.”

Passion runs deep: I’m passionate about this race team,” Allmendinger said. “I’m passionate about racing, but since I joined this race team, it really is because Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) and Brad (Daugherty), the people surrounding this team I care so much about. Maybe that comes out in an animated way or maybe not the best ways all the time. But, it will never be because I’m not caring. I just always want to be upfront. There’s times I get emotional and try to get Brian to be more open about it and give me more information and stuff like that. You don’t learn that in three races or three months or just under a year. It takes a while to learn. So, I think we are generally on the same page now. There are still the ups and downs, but it is racing, it will always be like that. It’s a fun time to be with each other as a race team. It just takes good chemistry, not with just Brian and I, but the whole team. You want it to go so quick, but you can’t substitute time. That’s what it is.”

Special feeling:  “Bristol Motor Speedway is a place similar to Indianapolis Motor Speedway or Daytona International Speedway when it comes to ceremonial activities,” Burns said. “Standing on pit road with everything they have going on and looking up at all the fans, makes you feel like you are a part of something pretty special. It’s probably one of the grassroots racetracks where a win there is pretty significant because of all the history that place holds.”



Career Starts: 234
Wins:            1
Top-fives:     7
Top-10s:      37
Pole Awards: 2
First Start:  3/25/2007  Bristol
First Pole:   4/10/2010  Phoenix
Last Pole:    4/22/2012  Kansas
Best Start:   1 – 4/10/2010 Phoenix
Best Finish:  1 – 8/10/2014  Watkins Glen
Driver DOB:  12/16/1981
Hometown:   San Jose, Calif.
Crew Chief:   Brian Burns


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Each week throughout the NASCAR season Racing-Rewards members are given the opportunity to download exclusive AJ Allmendinger cellphone wallpaper. This week’s design design features AJ and his BUSH’S Beans car.

Click HERE to visit the download page.



Sunday, April 19th

10:15 to 10:29 AM  Bristol Pit Road Party Zone Q&A

10:30 AM JTG Daugherty Racing Sponsor Meet & Greet

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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