News & Media


Allmendinger third in points following PIR top-10

February 28, 2011, Mark Aumann, NASCAR.com

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Driver not surprised with results and has high expections for his team in 2011

After two races in the 2011 season, Kyle Busch leads the Sprint Cup points, followed by Kurt Busch, with Tony Stewart and A.J. Allmendinger tied for third.

Yes, that's not a typo.

"You always want a little bit more and you always think you can get a little bit more. I'm not sure where that puts us in points, but there were a lot of guys ahead of us that had a lot of trouble."

--A.J. ALLMENDINGER

With an 11th-place finish at Daytona and ninth in Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Allmendinger is off to the best start of his five-year Cup career. Two years ago, he finished third in the rain-shortened Daytona 500 only to struggle in each of the next three events.

Given all the turmoil experienced by Richard Petty's organization in 2010, perhaps it's a surprise to some fans to see how well Allmendinger's faring right now. But in all honesty, it's just a continuation of the way he closed out last season.

Starting with his eighth-place run at Richmond, Allmendinger was one of the most consistent drivers during the Chase, scoring three top-10 finishes, including a fifth in the season finale at Homestead. So even though he might have started the season by flying somewhat under the radar, Allmendinger had high expectations for 2011.

"You always want a little bit more and you always think you can get a little bit more," Allmendinger said. "I'm not sure where that puts us in points, but there were a lot of guys ahead of us that had a lot of trouble."

That's not to say that Allmendinger had a trouble-free day. His No. 43 Ford showed the effects of several early-race near-misses, particularly the 13-car accident on Lap 67. Allmendinger said much of that had to do with impatience caused by so many short green-flag runs.

"I don't know why this race kind of works out like that," Allmendinger said. "You always get some yellows early and guys doing two tires and no tires.

"We got in the back and got in that wreck where we got a little bit of damage, but I don't think it really affected the car."

Once the field was thinned out, long periods of green were the order of the day, and Allmendinger said his car responded well to the changes made by crew chief Mike Shiplett.

"I felt like overall we had a pretty good car," Allmendinger said. "We were on a fine line with the long runs. We would either be really good or we'd be a little bit loose and struggle, so I felt like if we could have stayed green a long time, we would have been really good."

In the second half of the race, Allmendinger battled with Mark Martin and Denny Hamlin just outside of the top 10. But following green-flag stops and a final caution for debris for Lap 286, Allmendinger found himself chasing Kurt Busch in the closing laps.

"There at the end it was a good battle with Kurt," Allmendinger said. "I was trying to get him for eighth, but, all in all, to start with an 11th and ninth with as many wrecks that we've been in and not actually gotten wrecked is all right. We'll take it."

It was Allmendinger's first top-10 finish at Phoenix. Now he'd like a similar accomplishment at Las Vegas, where he's finished 33rd and 25th in two starts.

"All in all, Vegas is not the best race track for us, so to have two good finishes going in to that and build something off of it should be good," Allmendinger said.