A.J. Allmendinger Gains Ground In Standings With 15th-Place Finish At Texas While Mechanical Issues Spoil Night For Brad Keselowski
FT. WORTH (Saturday, April 14, 2012) – At first glance, A.J. Allmendinger's 15th-place finish in the Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway might not raise many eyebrows. But the respectable outcome for the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger team allowed Allmendinger to move up one position to 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings, another positive step as the team continues to build consistency.
Under ominous Texas skies that created steady winds over 20 mph with gusts up to 60 mph, race conditions were less than ideal for the 900-hp stock cars on the aero-sensitive, 1.5-mile oval.
Speed is a given at TMS where the long sweeping corners make it one of the fastest on the NASCAR schedule. Add long green-flag racing to the equation as the 334-lap affair was slowed only twice, smashing the record for fewest cautions. The previous record, five, was set at last year's spring event. Few cautions mean little time for race-time adjustments, challenging crew chiefs and drivers under delicate driving conditions. The race set records for average speed (160.575 mph), fewest cautions (two) and caution laps (10), all of which had a direct impact on race.
"The car was just way too tight, something that we hadn't fought all weekend," Allmendinger said. "I think we need to work on making small changes before the race, but that's something that Todd (Gordon) and I will learn together."
Allmendinger and Gordon (crew chief) used the first half of the race to dial in their No. 22 Dodge. By lap 190, Allmendinger was racing ninth, but a handling issue was developing. He dropped seven positions to 16th by lap 250.
"The first three changes that we made during the race were good," said Allmendinger. "I thought that we were making good progress and after that, we just lost the race track. We fought tight and tried to free it up. We were running ninth at the 200-lap mark and we just didn't run the last 120, 130 laps like we needed to. The car had big mood swings all night."
Allmendinger is 47 points out of 10th in the season point standings.
For fellow Dodge driver Brad Keselowski, the evening was just downright frustrating. He appeared to have a Dodge Charger capable of running in the top five, but as the race neared the halfway mark, he made an unexpected trip to the garage area. The No. 2 Miller Lite team hastily made repairs for a fuel-pressure issue and Keselowski returned to the track, but had lost eight laps to the leaders.
Not out of the woods, the Blue Deuce would return to the garage a second time for more fuel-related problems. He was credited with a 36th-place finish which dropped him to 15th in the series standings, 36 points out of 10th.
"Not exactly sure what happened with the Miller Lite Dodge," Keselowski said. "I could speculate, but we need to get it back to the shop and check everything over. I've always said that you have to have raw speed before anything else in this sport. So it is encouraging that we are consistently fast no matter where we go. We just need to clean some things up so that the potential of this team can shine."
Greg Biffle won Saturday night's race at TMS, ending a 49-race winless streak. Biffle passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead on lap 304 of the 334-lap and steadily pulled away over the final 31 laps for the win. Seven drivers exchanged the lead 18 times in a race that took 3 hours, seven minutes and 12 seconds to complete.Race Results NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500 Texas Motor Speedway April 14, 2012
|6.||Martin Truex Jr.|
|10.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Point Standings (After 7 of 36 events)
|3.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||-19|
|4.||Martin Truex Jr.||-20|
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