Monday, July 28, 2008

Tires and a Top 10

Buried beneath worn out rubber, tire runners soaked in sweat and a downright debacle of an Allstate 400 was the best finish of AJ Allmendinger’s Sprint Cup career.

The No. 84 driver ended up 10th in Sunday’s so-called race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the last of the 22 Sprint Cup tracks that AJ had yet to conquer in qualifying. Somehow, he survived a chaotic, caution-filled event when Goodyear’s Eagle tire failed to last longer than a measly 10-lap run on Indy’s abrasive, grooved surface.

“It was like the first five or six laps were OK and then there was a one-lap drop off that just killed you,” AJ said. “The last two laps of each run were not fun. You were just hanging on, and I was praying that the right rear was not going to blow out.”

Six of the 11 yellow flags were competition cautions that NASCAR waved to force teams to pit and change tires. The longest green-flag run was 12 laps, and strategy went out the window. But AJ’s crew chief, Jimmy Elledge, strategized just enough to keep his driver near the front.

“You knew everybody was going to have to at least pit, whether they were going to take two or four was the question,” AJ said. “We kind of got in the rhythm where we would do two stops in a row with two tires and then we would do four and then do another two stops with just two.”

The first top-10 finish of AJ’s Sprint Cup career kept his Red Bull Toyota 37th in the car owner standings — 63 points out of the top 35. He led four laps, too.

Teammate Brian Vickers wasn’t so lucky.

The No. 83 team opted to back it down, fade to the back and be gentle on the tires. But the engine in the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota — not tires — doomed Brian. He dropped a cylinder, retreated to the garage and returned to the track in 34th with 74 laps to go. The engine eventually expired 20 laps later, and Brian left Indy with a 42nd-place finish.

He slipped to 15th in the race to the Chase and is 132 points out of the top 12.

Listen to Brian and AJ talk about it in our audio section at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats to AJ and Jimmy - you played the strategy game right all day long. This is what was missing from the 84 side. Great job by the whole team. Should be in the top 35 soon!!!

9:01 AM  
Anonymous 83fanatic said...

Kinda hard to understand the #83 running half throttle and the motor still blowing about half-way through the race...Bad job by TRD. Great job 84 team! Top 35 will not be an issue, you guys are running within the top 20!

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bad job by TRD"

Motors blow up. It happens. To say bad job by TRD is nonsense. It's statistics. Indy is always hard on motors. Those lone front straights are a killer.

Good job by AJ to drive a disciplined, controlled race. That was what was needed in that situation.

Pocono will be great. I bet AJ is excited to go back there so soon. I think he could be a force to reckon with....

3:14 PM  
Anonymous 83fanatic said...

"Bad job by TRD" is my opinion. It is based on the amount of their motors that have blown up this year-not just for RBRT. I realize problems happen, but they have had alot more issues than other major motor suppliers.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if you can call it a bad job by TRD or bad luck, but it sure seems odd the 83 has blown an engine in the past two races. Luckily BV at least finished the race on one account. No way will they be in the top 12 if this continues let alone win races.

Great job AJ and the 84 team!!! Saw his interview on NASCAR Now and glad to hear AJ say the same thing BV has been saying about getting good finishes and the points will come.

Good luck to both teams this weekend!!!

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The #83 can win at Pocono, Michigan and California. They need to stay solid. And they have been solid, it's just the damn motors. You would think that TRD would give the #83 the best engine because they are the highest team (that TRD supplies engines to) in points.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several weeks back I believe it was mentioned that Red Bull was planning to test at Road Atlanta in July for prep for Watkins Glen. Did that ever happen?

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think BV and Scott are testing together this week, it may be at Road Atlanta.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job by AJ and Jimmy!! This is what the #84 team has been missing all these months. It is sooo awesome to see it finally coming together for AJ. Maybe he won't have to work so hard now that he has someone who can call the shots. Keep working guys, top 35 will be here in no time!!!

9:21 PM  
Anonymous lovinbv83 said...

Here is a lil funny miss up that I found at today in the hot and not.

Kristen's take: The No. 83 Red Bull's engine blew up with 55 laps to go, ruining a good day after Brian Vickers ran in top 10 much of the race. His 42nd-place finish put a serious damper on his bid to make the title Chase as he is now 132 points out of the final postseason spot. The good news is he runs well at Pocono.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's stupid to put Brian in the NOT side. They blew a freaking engine. His performance is still great.

11:19 AM  

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