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But first, these notes of interest:
--SPECIAL NOTE…Please see below (above quote of the week) for AJ Allmendinger’s special media hits scheduled for this weekend…
--AJ Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be racing their “PRS-642” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this week’s action at Daytona. Thursday’s qualifying race will mark its first time in racing competition. Dinger qualified the car 18th fastest (lap of 46.603-seconds/193.121 mph) last Sunday and will start ninth in the second 150-mile qualifying race on Thursday. “AJ and I were talking before qualifying and I told him I thought we’d run a (46.) 59 and wind up about 15th or so,” said crew chief Gordon. “Of course, he expected to run faster and I appreciated that. Overall, things went pretty much like we expected.” The “PRS-626” chassis will serve as the team’s backup Dodge Charger this weekend. “This is a car that was part of the No. 2 team’s fleet last season,” Gordon said. “Brad and the Miller Lite Team had it on their transporter as a backup, but they never raced it.”
--AJ Allmendinger is certainly confident in the strength of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Chargers his Penske Racing crew is preparing for him. “The cars are really strong and the engines have been powerful,” Dinger said. “What’s been so impressive is how consistent both Penske Dodges have been. We’ve been running neck and neck in all the practices and we were 18th and 19th in qualifying. We won’t have the opportunity to run together in Thursday’s qualifying races because Brad’s in the first and we’re in the second. But you can expect to see the Penske cars running together in practice and definitely in Sunday’s Daytona 500.”
--In the last Daytona 500 that AJ Allmendinger was behind the wheel of a Dodge – the 2009 edition of the Great American Race -- he finished third. It’s his best career finish at Daytona to date. AJ had failed to make the starting field for the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour’s biggest race for two straight years (2007 & 2008) while driving for Red Bull Racing. It was Dinger’s sheer determination that prevailed and got him through those rough times. “We closed out the 2008 season with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports and had them up in the top 35 in points,” AJ said. “But that team transitioned into Richard Petty Motorsports during the off-season. We thought we were locked into the Daytona 500 and we didn’t find out that we had to qualify for the race again until we rolled into the track.” Dinger started 19th in his qualifying race and drove to a solid 10th-place finish. In the 500, he started 20th and ran toward the front all day. He finished third after the race was called because of rain with 152 laps complete. AJ had entered the season with only eight races guaranteed on his schedule. The outstanding performance in the 500 led to the team picking up the additional sponsorship it needed to compete in all 36 races during the 2009 season. “It was pretty emotional just to make that race,” Dinger recalled. “Like I said back then, it comes down to two options -- you can quit or stick it out and I’m not a quitter. This sport is tough. You’ve got to always expect the worst and hope for the best.”
--The record book shows that Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger’s best career finish to date at Daytona was the third he scored in the 2009 Daytona 500. But Dinger contends that it wasn’t the strongest car he has raced at Daytona: “While the third in the 2009 Daytona 500 might be the best finish for us in the record book, it wasn’t the strongest car we’ve had in the race,” Dinger said. “We had a rocket ship there for the 500 in 2010. We changed engines and had to start at the rear of the field, but were able to blast up through the pack to lead. I think we had the car to beat until they had problems with the track and the pothole got us, the front end planted and I got loose. I was trying to save it, but I was pinned up against Jeff Gordon and I didn't want to take us all out so I just spun it to the inside. Unfortunately, when I stopped I couldn't get it refired and get going again. They made me get out of the car and go to the medical center even though we hadn't hit anything. So that was very frustrating because we lost a lot of laps. We lost like 12 laps, but got back in the car and finished the race. I’m convinced that we had a car strong enough to win the race there in the 2010 Daytona 500.”
--In five career Gatorade Duel 150’s AJ Allmendinger’s best results to date are the seventh-place finishes he has posted the last two consecutive years. His performance during the five-year span coincides with the overall progress he has made during that time. He finished 29th in 2007, 13th in 2008 and 10th in 2009.
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger has started only seven total Cup races to date at Daytona, with three starts in the Daytona 500 and four in the July Coke Zero 400. He has recorded one top-five finish and two top-10s. His third-place finish in the 2009 Daytona 500 rates his best result entering this weekend. Dinger started 15th and finished 11th in last year’s Daytona 500. He started ninth and finished 10th in last July’s 400-miler.
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger announced last week his motorsports company, Walldinger Racing, had established a new karting scholarship program. A deserving young karter will receive a scholarship to race in the 2012 World Karting Association championship starting March 23-25 at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina. The scholarship winner will also be set to compete in the Rotax Grand Nationals in August and SKUSA SuperNationals in November. “I was very lucky so many different times through my career to get the support that I needed to keep racing and keep moving up,” said Allmendinger. “So I feel very fortunate to be in a position to try to help someone else who is trying to do the same thing. I’ve had really great partners through my career and I think you can expect some exciting announcements as we go forward with this program. I am really looking forward to this being the start of something good for some young racer out there.” Serious applicants ages 13-16 are asked to send their CV, racing credentials, photo, and short summary of their racing goals to: Karting@ajallmendinger.com. Deadline for entry is March 10, 2012. For additional information, please visit www.ajallmendinger.com.
--Expect Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger to be “talking up” his sponsor’s move to continue their successful “WINsdays” program during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. “That’s pretty cool that they have that level of faith in me to continue the program this season, but we can’t officially talk about it till Thursday,” Dinger said with a chuckle. “We have a radio media tour scheduled then that is supposed to coincide with the official announcement. All I can say is that I am flattered and we’ll be going after all wins we can get for our great sponsors and for all the fans out there.” (Shhh…keep it under the hat till then, but Dinger will be announcing the continuation of Shell’s “WINsdays” program where Shell Saver Card holders will receive a savings of 22 cents per gallon on the Wednesdays following every points race victory by the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge.)
--Make sure you catch Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger in his weekly contribution to ESPN’s “NASCAR Now.” The regular segment titled “The Daily Dinger” features AJ conducting off-beat interviews with drivers, crew chiefs and fans about each weekend’s race. Sunday’s edition of the hour-long “NASCAR Now” is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. ET and airs on ESPN2.
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger is writing a monthly blog for NASCAR.com and his first contribution is set to be posted on Thursday. This is a “no rules & no limitations” opportunity for Dinger, so expect to see content here that you will see nowhere else.
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger continues to contribute a weekly video blog that is featured on FOXSports.com. It is a “free-form documentation” of Dinger’s exciting life as one of the most promising & personable young drivers in Sprint Cup racing. FOXSports.com’s Senior NASCAR editor Jorge Mondaca oversees the project and actually made a cameo appearance in Dinger’s latest video. To view all the fun, please log on to this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtyGuu77GJg
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger continues his weekly call-ins to SiriusXM Speedway with Dave Moody & Angie Skinner on Fridays on NASCAR Channel 90. Dinger’s calls are regularly in the 5:00 p.m. ET block, schedule permitting.
--Make sure you check out Shell’s new activation on Facebook which will feature all the latest news on all facets of their motorsports involvement. Please log on here to get started: http://www.facebook.com/ShellMotorsport
--Follow Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AJDinger. You can also follow AJ Allmendinger as well as all the Penske Racing drivers on Facebook and Twitter by simply logging on to www.penskeracing.com and click on the respective links. Follow the Dodge drivers on Twitter at http://twitter.com/teamdodge . Follow TR on Twitter at http://twitter.com/22carPR
--The full 2012 AJ Allmendinger No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil racing media guide is available online this season. Log on to www.shell.us/racing to find all the information you need in one convenient location. You can follow the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ShellRacingUS
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger’s media availability time for Daytona International Speedway is set for Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. in the Daytona International Speedway Infield Media Center. Dinger will always attempt to visit media center whenever possible.
-Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger will be signing autographs at his merchandising trailer on the grounds of Daytona International Speedway this weekend. The 30-minute block of time is set for Saturday from 1:30 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. and will be posted at the trailer first thing on Friday morning. You must have a ticket to be in the line and Shelly & Jerry will be handing them out on Saturday well before the signing.
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger is set to be a special guest on PRN’s “Up to Speed from Daytona Beach” on Thursday during the 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET block. The live show will again originate from the center court of the Volusia Mall. Follow the PRN crew on Twitter (@PRNlive). To find an affiliate station near you, please visit the PRN site at: http://www.goprn.com/
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger is a special guest on this Saturday’s edition of “Trackside” on SPEED-TV. Dinger joins hosts Krista Voda, Rutledge Wood and Kyle Petty for the second segment. Saturday’s show airs live beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET on SPEED. For additional information, please log on here: http://www.speedtv.com/programs/nascar-trackside/
--Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger will be a featured guest on Sunday’s edition of “FOX and Friends” on the FOX News Channel. The program starts at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning, with Dinger scheduled to join hosts Alisyn Camerota, Dave Briggs, and Clayton Morris at 8:30 a.m. For additional information on the show, check them out on Twitter (@ffweekend) or log on to their site at: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-friends-weekend/index.html
--“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” -Walter Elliott
ALLMENDINGER GETTING PRIMED FOR ACTION IN DAYTONA 500 WEEKEND
Lap completion percentage: 158/160 = 98.750%
|2/17/11||Gatorade Duel 150 #1||Ford||12||7||62/62||$26,213||Running|
|2/11/10||Gatorade Duel 150 #1||Ford||12||7||60/60||23,470||Running|
|2/12/09||Gatorade Duel 150 #2||Dodge||19||10||60/60||21,638||Running|
|2/14/08||Gatorade Duel 150 #1||Toyota||7||13||60/60||22,345||Running|
|2/15/07||Gatorade Duel 150 #1||Toyota||19||29||23/63||19,050||Accident|
Lap completion percentage: 265/305 = 86.885%
|7/2/11||Coke Zero 400||Ford||9||10||170/170||142,186||Running|
|7/3/10||Coke Zero 400||Ford||21||36||136/166||121,176||Running|
|7/4/09||Coke Zero 400||Dodge||30||17||160/160||98,975||Running|
|7/5/08||Coke Zero 400||Toyota||13||42||100/162||83,355||Running|
|Coke Zero 400||4||0||0||1||0||445,692|
Lap completion percentage: 1,124/1,226 = 91.680%
Average Start: 17.571
Average Finish: 21.571
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2012 Shell Pennzoil Team Roster