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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: KOBALT 400


March 8, 2015


A. J. Allmendinger

Martin Truex, Jr.


LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

KERRY THARP:  We're joined by AJ Allmendinger, and AJ came in sixth today.  That's his second back‑to‑back top 10 finish, and congratulations, AJ.  You were running strong all day.  You drive the No.47 Clorox Chevrolet, and certainly a great couple races for you, and just talk about coming out on this West Coast swing and obviously getting off to a good start.
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  Yeah, it's important.  Vegas has never been a great racetrack for me, especially if you look at my stats.  It's always been a tough racetrack.  I haven't had a lot of fond memories about it.
To come out here, we got to do the test, the Goodyear tire test in January, I thought that helped us out a little bit, but ultimately I was really happy as the weekend progressed.  We kept on getting a little bit better and better, weren't as good as we wanted to be kind of over the course of the weekend, but I think the RCR Alliance really helped.  Obviously the 31 and the 78 cars were really fast, and we kind of ‑‑ second practice yesterday switched over to more their setup, and that really kind of woke the car up and got us in a good place.  So having that alliance, and you see our power and everything we get with Chevy really, really helped this Clorox Chevy throughout the course of the day.
And honestly, probably Watkins Glen is what it is, but I really look at this race as one of the best races I feel like we've run as a race team, just over the year now that we've been together.  Car was consistent all day.  We kept kind of chipping away at it.  Right at the end there, I thought we really had a fast race car, was kind of catching the guys and a few more laps might have been able to get a couple more guys.
Overall really pleased.  You know, everybody on this 47 team, my crew chief Brian Burns, he's just working hard.  My engineer, Tony Palmer and everybody on the team, all of our sponsors, Clorox and Kingsford, Busch's Beans, what else we got on there, Hungry Jack potatoes, Shore Lunch, Better Than Bouillon?  What else we got on there?  Scott products, thank you.  They're all right here.  Everything else, there's a lot of‑‑ everybody, you've got it, right here.
So there's a lot of good sponsors on our car, and I'm pretty excited about that.

Q.  I read or saw something, were you not feeling well?  Did you need to be treated today?
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  Not today.  Let's put it this way, I definitely wasn't 100 percent today, but yesterday I was awful.  Never hit me that‑‑ I'm usually, knock on wood, I'm not sick a lot, and just over the course of this week, kind of started feeling not great.  Friday night I wasn't feeling really well.  I thought I was just tired, and yesterday it turned bad.  I was okay in the morning, and then all of a sudden everything on my body ached.  I went to the infield care center, so I've got to thank them a lot because they gave me some stuff and some recommendations to make me a whole lot better because if we had to race last night, I don't know if I could have raced.  I was in bed from 2:00 in the afternoon until I went to sleep, barely just able to move.
It hit me pretty quick, and they gave me the right recommendation and stuff to‑‑ antibiotics to feel better.  I wasn't great 100 percent today, but way better than yesterday.

Q.  You made the Chase last year with a win.  What do you guys want to do as an organization this year?  I assume you want to be in contention and solidly in contention in points and not have to use‑‑
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  Yeah, it was awesome to make the Chase, and with this format, you win one and obviously you get in right away, and that helps.  But if you look at overall points, we were a 22nd place team through the course of the year, and we ran better in the Chase and had a shot at a top ten in points, but I felt like we were a 20th place car, 22nd place car most of the year.  It's just the stuff we are doing right now.  That's what I want to do is just keep consistently having top‑15 runs, and when we nail it like we did today, get inside the top 10 and get close to the front.  We'll have certain races that we know we can be a car that can go out there and win a race, but just the stuff we're doing right now, just getting better each weekend.  I love what the guys are doing back at the shop.  The race cars that we're putting out are so nice.  They're really pumped up about them.
Just keep getting better each weekend, and hopefully‑‑ we look at the results, you look at the RCR Alliance, most of the cars, it's kind of led by Martin and the 31 this weekend, but the cars are fast, Austin winning yesterday in the XFINITY race, so as an organization and as a group, I think we're all getting better, and that's what we all need.
KERRY THARP:  Let's hear from Martin Truex Jr.  He drives the No.78 Furniture Row Chevrolet.  Martin comes in after today's race fourth in points, off to the best start in the history of that organization, and Martin certainly continuing to excel.  You led some laps and ran up front.  Talk about the continued progress that this race team is making?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.:  Yeah, honestly just another solid weekend really in general, just had a good day on Friday, practiced well yesterday, felt good about the car going into today, and just had another solid day, no mistakes, no bad luck, fast race car.  And the biggest thing, I guess, I was proud of today or took away from it was we were off a little bit at the beginning of the race and worked on it all day long, continued to get better, and at the end of the day we were the best we've been all day.
That's what you like to see out of your team, you like to finish strong, and all in all just really proud of the guys for giving me a fast race car all weekend long, giving me a fast race car each weekend this year really.  Got a lot of momentum on our side right now, and hopefully we can keep building on that, build some more momentum, and hopefully be able to catch that 4 car in a couple of weeks.

Q.  Pumpkin, sorry you're not feeling well.  You said intermediate tracks were your problem last year.  You're in this alliance with RCR and it really seems to be paying dividends for both organizations right now.
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  Yeah, I think as a group, as the RCR Alliance were, we're just better as a whole, if you see the way the cars have been running at the beginning of the year.  And for us, it's something we kind of hit on at the end of last year, and with the rules package change, we didn't know if‑‑ how much of a difference it would be, and kind of this weekend we went back to some of the stuff we ran right at the end of the year, and I think as a whole, the team is just putting out better race cars.  Last year we were just always behind trying to build a race car.  We did the alliance so late.  More than anything, we're just so much more prepared and ahead of where we were last year of building race cars and getting the bodies right and getting all those little details to go from that 20th place car to start breaking in the top 10.  For us I think that's kind of where we're ahead right now.
KERRY THARP:  Martin, talk about the single car team and how the alliance is working out.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.:  It works out great for us.  To AJ's point, just having a year under our belts, all working together.  I think that AJ and I were both new coming into that system last year, and just getting in there, and those guys getting confidence in us, our teams working together better.  Cole really came up and our engineer Jazzy, they really came up through that RCR program, so they're really tight with the group there and really bought into their engineering program, really buying into the way they're building their cars, and really trying to stay on the same page and not say, well, we're going to go down this road and do our own thing.  We're going to use some of what we can get from you and use some of our own stuff.  Really bought into the system and building stuff like the 31 does, and I think AJ's stuff is along the same lines.
Just getting more experience together, getting more confidence in each other, and really just having a better game plan going into the season is a big part of the reason why the cars are running better, and all the teams seem to be running closer together.

Q.  Martin, you talked a little bit about kind of the turnaround and some different things.  Is there any chance that this new car and the way it's a little bit more like the XFINITY series, is that maybe playing into your driving style a little better and that's where some of the success is coming if?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.:  Maybe a little bit, but at the end of the day, I don't think so.  You know, I think last year if they would have cut two inches of spoiler off everyone and took away horsepower and everything else, we still would have ran like we did.  We had fundamental issues last year that we needed to correct in the wintertime.  Obviously out of the box it's been a lot better, and you know, I don't attribute our success to the rules changes, I attribute it to knowing what we were doing wrong last year and fixing it over the wintertime and coming out of the box kind of understanding what we're doing.

Q.  Martin, were you aware that Harvick kind of thought he might be having issues there in the last 10 laps or so, and were you ready to pounce if that happened?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.:  I noticed he was getting a lot bigger, and I asked why in the world is Harvick so slow right now?  They gave me my lap time and his and I'm like what's going on.  I really thought he was just playing with us, taking it easy because he knew he had a big gap.  They never said anything to me about him thinking he had any issues or anything else.

Q.  You mentioned a few minutes ago about correcting fundamental issues from last year.  Can you kind of go into that a little deeper?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.:  No, not really.  (Laughter.)  It was fundamentally screwed up.  Now it's not.

Q.  AJ, you talked about how well the car was.  You talked about how you physically feel better today than you did yesterday and everything.  But what about the pit stops, because you never seemed to lose anything during each of the pit stops, so your pit crew must be a lot better, as well.
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  Yeah, I mean, last year‑‑ that was tough because when we'd run well, we'd struggle in pit stops.  I have to give most of the credit to our jack man, which is our pit crew coach, Michael Klein.  Anybody that's seen him, he's a beast.  He's just one big muscle walking around.  He's been at the 47 team for, gosh, almost since it started really.  He bleeds for all of us, for Tad and Jody and Brad, and he took it to heart last year.  He was upset about it, and he worked hard.  We didn't make a lot of changes.  There was a couple or a few changes we made on the pit crew, but still, I would say it's at least half the same people we had as last year, but they've worked hard, the whole pit crew has.  They're so much better this year.  Honestly, I'm probably the weakest link for them right now.  I'm trying to make sure I figure out how they want to get in the pit box and stuff like that.
They're doing a great job.  But that's what you have to do.  When you run up front, that pit stop becomes a lot more critical than when you're running 20th.  As a group we've all got to get better together, but Michael Klein, he's put it on these guys.  They've worked hard, and it's showing.

Q.  Martin, you talked about the struggles of last year on the track and with all the stuff that you and Sherry have gone through.  What does it feel like, at least at the beginning of the season, what does it do for your psyche to be able to walk away from the racetrack on a weekend being competitive?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.:  Well, at the end of the day, it's just fun.  As a competitor, that's what you want.  Last year was‑‑ there was days where it was just really hard to even think about racing because it was so miserable.  But I think at the end of the day, I'm proud of our guys for sticking behind me.  I think that there was never a time where I quit on them.  I never gave up on them.  We worked hard all year long, and we definitely started to see some light at the end of the tunnel at the end of the season, and that was a good thing.  That really is what spurred on the‑‑ you know, the performance that we have now, because we started to understand things.  Things started to make sense, and we had a plan at the end of the season of how we were going to go about doing this, trying to get this team turned around.
So it was good that everybody fought hard last year and never gave up, and we've got a great owner.  Barney Visser has been behind us 100 percent since I've been there, and just real thankful for that and thankful for all the guys on the team and the job they've done.

Q.  Along those same lines of everything you went through with your girlfriend, could you talk a little bit about how that changed your perspective on life and your outlook on racing?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.:  Well, it changed a lot.  It puts a lot of things into perspective without a doubt.  I think those bad days are not near as bad at the racetrack as you thought they were.  When you get a glimpse of something that could possibly change your life like that in a bad way, it makes you look at things a lot differently.
Suddenly those bad days at the racetrack weren't so bad.  Suddenly they were okay, and I knew that if we just kept working hard, we could get through it all, and certainly I feel like we have now.  But we're going to continue to work hard and try to get to that next level.  We want to win races.  We have got a great team.  We have got good equipment right now, and it's important when you're in those positions to try to take advantage of that.
We're going to keep pushing and try to get better and hopefully get in victory lane a few times.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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