All­mendinger needs win at The Glen

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

Three years ago AJ All­mendinger didn’t want the sec­ond Sun­day in Au­gust to end, so he lin­gered in vic­tory lane at Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional to soak in the at­mos­phere with his crew.

The vic­tory on the road course stamped All­mendinger as a threat to win ev­ery time NAS­CAR’s Cup se­ries vis­its the two twist­ing lay­outs on the sched­ule.

With the play­offs loom­ing, he’s 27th in points and needs a vic­tory to qual­ify for the post­sea­son as the se­ries stops at The Glen, his best shot left to pro­duce that needed re­sult.

If there’s any added pres­sure, he doesn’t feel it.

“No pres­sure, man. Hon­estly,” said All­mendinger, who drives the No. 47 Chevro­let for JTG Daugh­erty Rac­ing. “I think the out­side world tries to put pres­sure on it. All we can do is go out there and give it our best ef­fort. The race­track will al­ways be spe­cial, ob­vi­ously, be­ing my first win, re­liv­ing those mem­o­ries,” said All­mendinger, an ex­pert road racer from his days in open­wheel rac­ing.

“But when it comes to pres­sure, it’s in ev­ery week. We’ll see how it plays out.”

That vic­tory in 2014 came in All­mendinger’s 213rd Cup start, and he did it by win­ning a 2-lap duel at the end with Mar­cos Am­brose, who had emerged as the driver to beat at Watkins Glen.

Am­brose had been dom­i­nant in NAS­CAR’s top two se­ries at The Glen, win­ning two straight Cup races and four straight events in the sec­ond-tier se­ries.

Sun­day’s I Love New York 355 at The Glen is the sec­ond straight Cup race with a con­densed sched­ule. Teams won’t prac­tice un­til to­day and qual­i­fy­ing is Sun­day, three hours be­fore the race.

“With the con­densed prac­tices, to un­load well (is key),” All­mendinger said. “You don’t have that time to re­ally work on your car. Each prac­tice is 55 min­utes long, and if you don’t un­load very well, it’s one of those things that you kind of get be­hind real quick. The last cou­ple of weeks we haven’t un­loaded great and then it’s hard to try and catch up be­cause the time just goes quick.”

As for that pres­sure Sun­day, NAS­CAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wal­lace fig­ures it’ll be ramped-up for All­mendinger.

“AJ All­mendinger, he’s com­ing up here think­ing, ‘Man, you know what, I can run good ev­ery­where else, but I can win here and I’ve got to get it done here,’ ” Wal­lace said. “‘I’ve got to win this race be­cause it’s the only shot I’ve got to win all year long.’ ”

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