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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: SPRINT SHOWDOWN


May 19, 2012


A.J. Allmendinger

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Bobby Labonte


CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA

KERRY THARP:テつ Let's roll into our post race for the Sprint Showdown.テつ Transferring over to the Sprint All‑Star Race, thanks to his second‑place finish, AJ Allmendinger.
A.J., what a comeback.テつ Pit road with a flat tire.テつ How did you make your way up through the field after that?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER:テつ Fast racecar.テつ I couldn't believe we had a flat tire coming up the green.テつ Guys did a good job to the left sides and get me back out there before I got lapped.
From there, the car was so fast.テつ I could see that I was pulling away from Dale when he was behind me.テつ At that point I knew at least we had a shot at it.
We needed to get that 20 laps and do everything we could.テつ After that, I think I was one of the few cars that had four tires.
Car was just fast.テつ 20 laps is a short amount of time to get there.テつ I gave it everything I had.テつ If I didn't make it, I didn't want it to be for lack of trying.
Everybody in this organization, especially on the 22 car, they're used to winning, used to being in this race.テつ I wasn't going to let them down.テつ I was going to do everything I could to get in there.テつ I was going to wreck trying.
KERRY THARP:テつ Questions for A.J.

Q.テつ When you realized you had the flat tire, you have to go and pit before the race starts, how are you not ready to kill yourself, say, This is over?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER:テつ 10 races of bad luck, getting used to it.
No, I mean, at that point, it is what it is.テつ You can't do anything.テつ Actually, I didn't even‑‑ I was shaking the car around trying to warm the tires up.テつ Gordon was on it, he saw it from the pit box, saw I had a tire low coming with one to go.テつ I really started shaking the car around at that point and really could feel it was flat.
The first five or six laps of the green‑flag run made me feel good.テつ I was driving away from Dale.テつ Whether we had time to get there on a restart or not, I just knew we had a fast car, and that's all you could ask for at that point.
It was getting aggressive at that point.テつ I didn't care if I wrecked.テつ I was going to do everything I could to get there.
Jamie, he's one of the best around this place.テつ We were a little bit free on the first run, so we tightened it up.テつ It was a little bit tight anyway.テつ I was really aero tight.テつ He was good.テつ I could roll a ton of speed on him in the corner.テつ Coming into one, missed the bottom a little bit.テつ At that point it was my only shot.テつ I held it wide open.テつ I didn't care if I bounced off of him, we both wrecked, I didn't care.テつ I figured we practiced last week wrecking together, so I wasn't scared to do it again.
KERRY THARP:テつ A.J., congratulations.テつ Good luck in the next race.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER:テつ Thank you.
KERRY THARP:テつ Another transfer into tonight's Sprint All‑Star Race, courtesy of the fan vote, is Bobby Labonte.
Bobby, congratulations on getting that fan vote and getting an opportunity to race in the All‑Star event.テつ Your thoughts?
BOBBY LABONTE:テつ Yeah, well, I obviously got to thank Sprint and all the fans.テつ That's awesome.テつ That's probably the only word I can really use that sums it up.
To have that happen is obviously great.テつ Just hoping that we can excel in the big race.
Everybody on our team's really done a good job this weekend to get our car here.テつ Actually, the story is two weeks ago we weren't even going to show up here because this is not in our budget to run this race.テつ Guys stepped up, so we got this far.テつ Hopefully we can just keep going.
Again, just thank the fans for doing that.テつ That's really a great deal.
KERRY THARP:テつ Questions now for Bobby.

Q.テつ Are you surprised at all that you were the fan selection?
BOBBY LABONTE:テつ I mean, yeah, obviously.テつ You just don't know.テつ You wait till the end.テつ You obviously find out.テつ You always want to be.テつ You'd like to be.
There's a lot of great racecar drivers in this race that could get this same type of vote.テつ Again, thank the fans for doing that.テつ That is a great honor obviously.
Been doing this a long time.テつ So always try to do the right thing.テつ Hopefully that pays off sometimes at the end.

Q.テつ How would you characterize this season?テつ You knew it was going to be a building year going to your own shop?
BOBBY LABONTE:テつ Exactly.テつ That's what we're doing.テつ A couple weeks ago, we had a test at New Hampshire.テつ Self‑inflicted wound.テつ Wiped out a racecar while we were there.テつ I'm not trying to make a sob story, that's where we're at.テつ We're building as we go.
I can always see improvements.テつ Everybody is doing a great job.テつ Todd is doing it.テつ We're making headway, it seems like, every weekend.テつ We've still got some battles to challenge.
As a single‑car team, really proud of all the guys.テつ We bought Michael Waltrip racecars from last year, year‑before‑type of cars, that we've made work.テつ We're hoping to build some new cars here shortly.
That's what hopefully will key on getting us a little bit better.
KERRY THARP:テつ Bobby, congratulations in the All‑Star Race in a little bit.
BOBBY LABONTE:テつ Thank you.
KERRY THARP:テつ Dale Earnhardt, Jr., winner of the Sprint Showdown.テつ He advances into the Sprint All‑Star Race.
Dale, just yesterday you said that's the way you wanted to get in the All‑Star Race.テつ Talk about it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:テつ Yeah, we had a really good car in practice, felt like if we could get our nose out front, we'd be hard to beat.
I just worked really hard on the restart to get ahead of Martin, try to get clean air, make it tougher for the rest of those guys behind us.
I got to give most of the credit of our performance to the team.テつ They put a great car out on the line today that was fast right out of the gate.テつ This race, you set cars up, you take cars to racetracks every weekend.テつ You're either good on a short run or a long run, but you just worry about how the car can do over a 60‑or‑so‑lap period.
Today you just have to go.テつ You don't have time to work on the car, work your way throughout a tire run.テつ You got to go right out of the gate.テつ That really comes down to the team, Steve and the guys getting together, really putting the best package they can under the car.
All the credit really goes to them and the boys at the shop that put the car together.テつ We didn't bring the best car last year.テつ We really didn't put a lot of emphasis on this race last year.テつ We were trying to get used to each other, learn to be a better team.テつ We feel like we're there now to where we can start concentrating on events like this.
We brought a car that we felt would be competitive.テつ It seems to be doing really good.
KERRY THARP:テつ Questions for Dale.

Q.テつ Junior, you said yesterday that last year Letarte said you're bringing a much better car, and last year you didn't put as much emphasis on this.テつ Can you expand on that?テつ Did he not tell you that until after last year's race?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:テつ I don't inquire about the cars leading up to the race.テつ I just assume we're taking what he believes to be the best car for that event.
He just admitted to me sometime in the past year, I can't recall whether it was a week ago or 12 months ago, that we didn't bring a good car here last year.テつ We didn't bring our best bullet to the fight.テつ He told me this year they were going to put a little more emphasis on this event.
I think last year, like I said, I mean, in defense of Steve and his decision, we were a young team.テつ This was early for us in our relationship.テつ He was concentrating really more on the 600, trying to make the Chase.テつ We had a lot of pressure on us to do well.テつ We were still sort of coming out of the box.テつ This was pretty early in the season last year.
In defense of his decision there, I don't have a problem with it at this point.テつ Obviously now, after winning tonight, getting into the All‑Star Race, it's easy to look back and say it's not a big deal.テつ But it was a challenging time for us, and our priorities were quite a bit different then.

Q.テつ Dale, you might be starting in the rear of the field, but do you have an advantage having been out on the track tonight?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:テつ I think it's a slight advantage, I suppose.テつ You know, these are great race teams that we're going to be racing with in the All‑Star Race.テつ They have their cars tuned to what they believe is the perfect settings to go out there and hit the track and be the fastest one out there.
I don't feel like I got a real leg up on everybody.テつ It's going to be difficult starting in the back with the dirty air.テつ With the short runs, we're going to have either of two things:テつ hope we have a fast enough car to drive our way around everybody, which is going to be difficult, or make some calls on pit road, do some things strategy‑wise that get us ahead of a few guys.
You know, the guy who's in the clean air is the guy who is going to have the best advantage, just like we had in the shootout here.
I feel real fortunate to have drove my way into the All‑Star Race.テつ My fans have worked really hard to vote.テつ I never assume that I'm going to win the vote.テつ The fan support to me is a gift and I never take it for granted.
We just feel real lucky to have an opportunity to race.テつ We're going to enjoy being a part of the All‑Star Race, having earned our way in this year.テつ I feel like our fans can appreciate that, as well.
KERRY THARP:テつ Congratulations, Dale.テつ Good luck in the All‑Star Race.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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