Allmendinger needs win at The Glen
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.’ ”