A.J. Allmendinger needs a win in these final five regular season races to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. So while he’d rather earn a victory without controversy this weekend at Watkins Glen, he’ll take one any way he can get it.
When asked about what he’d do to win if he were running second on the final lap in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355, Allmendinger said he’d do “whatever it takes” while noting that “you race people how they race you.”
“That sets the idea of how you are going to race that person throughout the course of a race,” he said today at the Glen before running fourth in the first Sprint Cup practice session of the weekend.
“When it comes down to the end having a shot to win this race – I’ve been doing this for a while and it’s a tough sport. Unless you are Jimmie Johnson or somebody like that you don’t get that many opportunities to win a race.
“Whatever I have to do to win it, but I will be the first one to say I don’t want to win it in controversy either. I want to go out right and say ‘I earned that win and I won it the right way.’ If I have to stray a little bit, I will.”
He then elaborated on what “a little bit” meant: “I won’t come barreling in the corner and out right just crash the guy on purpose and just say I won the race because of that. But if he’s got to be moved out of the way or whatever, I’m going to do it.”
‘Dinger can’t afford to hold back right now, as he sits 113 points behind the 16th-place cutoff in the Chase standings. Only a victory will be able to get him a post-season berth, which would be a feather in the cap of his single-car JTG Daugherty Racing team.
JTG was among several squads that recently tested at the Glen, and Allmendinger believes it was time well spent.
“The main thing for our test was to really just make the box a lot smaller, so when we got here, we didn’t have to throw big things at it and hope to make a big difference,” he said.
“I felt like we really shortened the box in our race car to what we need to try just little stuff throughout the weekend to keep up with the race track. For that reason, I thought it was a successful test.”
But will that extra work pay off the way he hopes it will? Allmendinger said he didn’t want to make the weekend “all or nothing” but knows that he and his team are capable of something big.
“I feel like if we do the right things, we can be in contention to win the race,” he said.