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Behind the Wheel: Allmendinger thanks fans for support

June 14, 2012, AJ Allmendinger, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

AJ Allmendinger is sent spinning after getting hit by Landon Cassill at Pocono. (Getty Images)

Allmendinger grateful for words of encouragement; 'Dinger Dogs' on tap at MIS

The hit I took in last Sunday's crash at Pocono (watch) was really hard -- one of the hardest hits I've had in my career. Physically, I'm OK, was just a little sore after. Mentally, I'm fine. I'm over it and already focusing on this weekend's race at Michigan, where it's going to be fast ... faster than ever.

One thing really struck me earlier this week. I couldn't believe how many tweets, emails and notes I got from all of you out there checking on me and wishing me well. It got me thinking about the fans here in NASCAR and how you guys have probably played more of a role in my time here than you realize.

AJ on Twitter


Allmendinger likes hearing from the fans and regularly checks his Twitter account ... follow him at @AJDinger

I mean, the loyalty and passion of our sport's fans always amazes me. We all know we haven't had the finishes we want here this season, but no matter what happens my fans are there. After a race, when I on turn that Sprint phone and check my Twitter, you guys are there ... giving me pep talks, pointing out the positive, staying behind me; and when the chips are down you ALWAYS get my back.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the race and outcome and lose sight of the forest for the trees, I guess. Sure, I have a great support team around me, but to hear such great things from you guys that I haven't even met and when you don't owe me anything ... well, it means a lot. You are taking time out of your day or night to think about how I am doing. I think that will always blow me away.

It's easy to be a driver's fan when they are winning and be fair-weather fans, but speaking to my fans, well, you guys have been through A LOT of ups and downs with me! I should also probably give a shout-out to those open-wheel fans right now, too. So many of you followed me as I made the challenging move to NASCAR and have been here from Day 1.

So this is a huge "thank you" to all of you .... and even to those of you who have another favorite driver, because you guys are what make this sport great. When I am out for driver intros or during the national anthem, I just look at all of you that have spent your hard-earned dollars to come and watch us race and I am really grateful.

When I was released by the doctors from the care center last week, I faced all the media gathered outside. I didn't sugarcoat anything. Of course, they asked me about the crash and if I was OK. But they also asked about the mind-blowing amount of bad luck we've had this season. I told them that in my worst nightmare, there's no way I could think it could go this bad. Nobody on our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team deserves this because we all work so hard. We're not quitters and we'll never quit. We'll just work harder and harder at getting it all turned around.

The race fans are smart and they know what the real deal is. The support we've gotten since Sunday has been such great reinforcement for what I told the media at Pocono: We're determined to get our season turned around. We're as committed to doing that as we can be and I know we will try our hardest we to give the fans a lot to cheer about before this year is through.

Basically, I want you guys to know how grateful I am to have all of you supporting me. If you ever feel like what you tweet or send to our offices doesn't get read by me and make a difference, you are wrong. It matters especially when the chips seem to be down. Knowing you are there and hearing that (and also knowing you are not just friends of my dad's -- LOL) ... well, I can't show you my thanks enough. That's how I, and my "paid ladies" run Walldinger. If you catch me and I'm running short on time, I will do my best to come back or if you need something signed, you can always send to us. We will make sure I sign it.

So this weekend at Michigan, just as most every weekend, we're doing the souvenir signing. If you're coming to the race, please stop by the Shell-Pennzoil souvenir rig behind the main grandstands on Sunday morning at 9:15. I'll be there signing autographs and chatting with all the fans. Even though we think we have a bunch of neat stuff for sale, you don't have to buy anything to go through the line and get an autograph. It's always been that way for me and always will be.

And while you're there at Michigan International Speedway, you might as well enjoy a "Dinger Dog" at the concession stands. It's a new item on the menu this time around. We can thank MIS president Roger Curtis for making my dream come true! HaHa. Some of the guys on our 22 team are talking about having a "Dinger Dog" hotdog-eating contest there this weekend. I don't think I'll be part of that because I don't think driving the car after that would be good for any of us!

Safety crews and emergency personnel tend to AJ Allmendinger after crashing out at Pocono. (Getty Images)

It's true that we can't ever thank the fans enough, but I try as hard as I can. That's why I'm using my blog this month to give a BIG SHOUT-OUT to you ... THE FANS!

Behind the Wheel with AJ Allmendinger runs once a month on NASCAR.COM as he shares his experiences throughout the season, both at and away from the track. The opinions expressed are solely those of Allmendinger.