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April 3, 2016

A.J. Allmendinger

Kyle Larson

Ridgeway, Virginia

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our runner‑up finisher in today's STP 500 AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No.47 Kroger Coffee‑Mate Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. This is his second runner‑up finish at Martinsville. First one was in April of 2012. AJ, great job out there. Just talk a little bit about your race today.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, just a really solid weekend as a whole. We had a good qualifying, a great happy hour, and early in the race we weren't quite where we wanted to be, and we got our car really, really good on the long runs. That's kind of where I thought we shined. We didn't have great short‑run speed, but after about 30, 40 laps we could really get rolling there. I was kind of hoping we'd stay green the last 120 laps. I figured that wasn't going to happen, but I was praying we had a shot at that because I felt like if that happened we had a great chance to win the race.
Overall, just solid. You know, Randall Burnett, first‑year crew chief, Ernie Cope coming aboard, they've made a huge difference. My crew chief last year, Brian Burns, kind of going down back to his engineering role and Tony Palmer, that was the engineer last year, being kind of the second race engineer, everybody has just embraced their roles. It's made this team a lot of fun to be around, Tad and Jodi Geschickter, they've really put that extra effort into the race team this year to get the personnel. Anybody that saw our car, obviously get the sponsors, as well, and pit crew really stepped up. The last two weeks they've been awesome. Just a solid race.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our third‑place finisher, Kyle Larson, driver of the No.42 Target Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing. This is his best finish at Martinsville, first top 10 here. So Kyle, just talk us through your race today.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it was a solid weekend for myself, also. I was able to do double duty this week, and I think that definitely helped me get my rhythm early in the weekend and better myself each time I was on the track.
Our car was way better than it has been here in the past. I felt like I learned a lot throughout that race. I was able to run behind great drivers here, AJ, Jimmie, Kevin, Kurt, Keselowski, there was a lot of people that I could learn off of. You know, this was‑‑ in the past it's been my worst racetrack on the schedule, so to get a top‑three finish here feels great, feels like a win to be honest, and hopefully this is a good momentum shift that we need. We've been struggling all year long so far and been working hard, but it hasn't paid off.
It's nice to, like I said, be on the podium here and go on to Texas, a track where I've ran good in the past at and hopefully get a solid finish there, also.

Q. Kyle, having run yesterday and run today and having a good finish, how much were you able to take away from the truck race yesterday knowing sometimes that's not the case but also knowing that Goodyear brings the same tire for both divisions for here at Martinsville?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, well, normally a truck does not drive anything like a Cup car, and this is the only racetrack probably where it does. I think, like I said, just getting more laps on this racetrack is the most important part for myself. In the past I've always struggled with just hitting my marks lap after lap, and I think getting almost twice the amount of laps here this weekend as I normally would here just helped me become smoother and more patient and maybe get an idea of what I need to feel like going around the racetrack. Yeah, I definitely think it paid off.
Hopefully the next Martinsville I can run both again. I think it helped a lot, and hopefully it's something I can do from here on out for a while until I feel like I'm good enough where I don't need to run it.

Q. AJ, first off, did you want that late caution, or did you feel like you had the momentum going into it before it came out?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: The one with 35 to go?

Q. Yeah.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I was kind of hoping that we'd stay green because our long‑run car was really good. I had gotten a little bit more aggressive early in the run to try to stay closer to everybody, and I could see Kyle. I think I had come off 4, and I could see Kyle, I think, going into Turn 1 in a lot of traffic. At that time I was hoping we'd stay green, but I figured we wouldn't. And at that point, our short‑run car wasn't great, so Randall Burnett made a great adjustment there to try to be a little bit better on the short run, and it was pretty good on those restarts.

Q. You've had many races where you've run well maybe the first two thirds of the race and something will happen. What does it mean to put together a complete race, especially at Martinsville, a complete 500 laps?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I think that's something that really starting at the West Coast swing and coming through here, I feel like we've been at our best at the end of the races. We've maximized‑‑ that's the biggest thing we said, if we just maximize our finishes, whether they're top 5 or you're running 20th and you can get 18th out of it, that's what you have to do. In Atlanta we had some problems. I've really felt like the last four races we've been able to put together whole races. Fontana and here we had really fast race cars.
We're getting there. There's ups and downs. This is a long season. The biggest thing, especially with a team like ours, is when you have a good race car, you've got to capitalize on it. Fortunately today we were able to do that.

Q. AJ, you alluded to it a little bit there, but how has Randall and Ernie really helped strengthen this team?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, Brian Burns and Tony Palmer, my crew chief and race engineer last year, they were just at a bit of a disadvantage. We didn't have the personnel to have the cars where we needed them when they left the race shop exactly where they needed to be, getting put into the hauler and getting brought to the racetrack. Ernie is really good. He's had a relationship with RCR working there, and obviously when he worked with Kevin Harvick and they had the truck and Busch teams at the time. So he's been really good about making sure we got what we need for the race cars and built the way they need to be to the specs that he wants them and things like that, and Randall, for a first‑year crew chief, you wouldn't really know it. He's great on the box. He calms me, which shockingly I don't know if you guys know that, I probably need that sometimes.
It doesn't seem like he's only done this for six races. They've brought a lot, but it's not just about those guys. Brian Burns and Tony Palmer, they stepped back into new roles and instead of feeling like they were downsized or demoted they've stepped up and embraced it.
The whole team here at the racetrack, at the shop, they've all stepped up. Pit crews the last two weeks have really stepped up, and there's a good vibe around the team. It's fun to be at the race shop. It's fun to be at the racetrack with the guys. Everybody seems a little bit more energetic. It's a big deal, and Tad is working Jodi is working hard to keep putting stickers on those race cars. That's important when they do that to try to give them in return good runs.

Q. AJ, how do you feel about going to Texas next weekend considering how the last two races have gone?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, Texas hasn't been one of our best racetracks, but I feel like our mile‑and‑a‑half program has definitely improved. That's a racetrack that it's tough, a guy like Kyle, he's really good. He goes and runs the top there, so it's a place that I've had decent runs but I've never really had great runs there, so I'm always kind of searching to find what I need. But race cars are getting better, so I know the guys back at the shop are really pumped up with the Texas car, and we'll unload it and see what kind of speed we had and kind of base the rest of our weekend off?

Q. Kyle, will you consider running the truck race in October to try to keep your rhythm up for the Cup race on Sunday?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I think with the success we had this weekend here, for sure at least we'll try and work it out to do it again. I had there at GMS's XFINITY team, working on the trucks, so I don't think XFINITY runs again that weekend. Later in the year, so hopefully we can do it again. I had a lot of fun racing with them. That's a great group of people over there. Like I said a lot, I feel like it's helped me quite a bit. I'll definitely be trying to talk whoever I need to talk into letting me run it run it.

Q. There's been some people who have said that people who excel in road racing do well here at Martinsville. You're such an excellent road racer. Do you agree with that, and if so, why?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I don't know. I mean, a little bit. I wouldn't say it's‑‑ if you're good at road course racing you're going to come here‑‑ I know the first couple times I came here, I couldn't figure this place out to save my life.
You know, it's just a rhythm racetrack. There's a fine line between needing to be aggressive enough, using the brakes and the things you have to do and be fast, and then overusing them, and that's kind of the way road course driving is. It's always a fine line. You can be aggressive but you've got to know that line to where you overstep it. I would say a place like Richmond, that's more way finesse and things like that.
There's a little bit to it, but it just helps when good race cars are brought to the racetrack. I mean, that makes a big difference. When we're making the right adjustments on them and things like that, I would say that's a bigger difference. But the thing is in the Sprint Cup Series, everybody is good it seems like, no matter where you go. Even at road course races now. Kyle had never seen a road course and about won right away at Sonoma. Everybody is just‑‑ it's the best in the world when it comes to driving race cars, especially these types of race cars.
It's just tough no matter where you go.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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