Monday, August 11, 2008

The Drive to 35

Life’s pretty good these days for gamer/driver AJ Allmendinger. Madden NFL 09 goes on sale Tuesday at midnight, AJ’s man crush, Brett Favre, graces the game’s cover and then there’s that little career hurdle called the top 35.

AJ’s No. 84 Red Bull Toyota finished 11th in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen, moving up two spots to 35th in the car owner standings and eight points out of the red. It was AJ’s fourth consecutive finish inside the top 20, and finally, for the first time in nearly two seasons, he can have a stress-free qualifying day.

“When we get to Michigan I’ll be a lot happier when we don’t have to qualify on time,” AJ said. “Right now, I’m just a little disappointed because I wanted that top 10 and I wanted to finish off strong, but 11th … I will take it.”

Crew chief Jimmy Elledge’s pit strategy again propelled AJ toward the front. After starting 37th, he was the first car to pit on lap 16. He returned to the track in 43rd, but by the time competitors’ stops cycled through on lap 30 he was 19th. Another pit sequence sent AJ to 12th, and he just missed a top-10 finish on the final lap.

“We’re in the top 35 and that’s been our big deal,” AJ said, “and I know once we get in we’re not going to fall back out. The car was good. Jimmy, like usual, used awesome strategy.”

Teammate Brian Vickers is still within striking distance of the Chase, mostly because the No. 83 team performed major surgery after the car was slow in Saturday practices. The crew changed the transmission, shocks, springs and much more, and an 18th-place finish has Brian 17th in points — 210 out of the top 12 with four races remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire.

Michigan is one of the team’s better tracks. Brian led 44 laps and finished fourth in Red Bull Racing Team’s last visit there in June. He has four top 10s in nine Michigan starts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe this time it will be the win. Go BV!!!

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A win would be great for the 83 team this weekend! Maybe since the hype has die down about getting in the chase BV can go out without pressure and kick some a$$.

Great job AJ and the 84 team! Now that they are in the top 35 the two teams can exchange info and get top 5 finishes this weekend.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Jason from PA said...

All this talk about AJ racing for his job should be qwelled soon, because if he doesn't re-sign with RBRT, someone will swoop in and pick him up. I knew he was for real when Mark Martin said he was the best young driver he has seen in a long time, and that was last year. Don't think these other car owners are ignorent to his abilities. He is hotter prospect than Casey Mears or Chad McCumbee. You think if RCR had to choose from AJ and Mears they would go with Mears??? Mears has had 2 chances to prove himself in "top of the line" equipment, arguably better equipment than RCR. AJ is starting to fly high with RBRT equipment which at this time is B- to B equipment (on the rise though). Idon't think he'd have that hard of a time getting a full time gig.
I bet DEI would let Smith go, if they had a shot at AJ (not Menard because of the sponsorship he brings, or he'd be gone as well)

I'd rather him in the red bull rocket, but I'd follow the driver in fandom should he be released...

10:51 AM  
Anonymous tracy said...

Good luck to both Brian and AJ this weekend. We're getting closer and closer to a points win for Red Bull in Cup, and I can't wait until it happens.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous tracy said...

Whoa, just saw where MWR put Skinner in for McDowell at Michigan. Must have seen what he did for AJ. Wouldn't that be ironic if he were to somehow bump AJ out.

Ah, who am I kidding? Red Bull equipment is looking way better than MWR right now. It should make qualifying interesting though. And only one has to go home. Looks like the 34 might be hanging it up.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Jason from PA said...

I really thought with all the momentum AJ has in the #84 we would've had an announcement of him being signed to an extension early in the week... I guess I was wrong...

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes... I hope TRB gives AJ an extension.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous 84 said...

If AJ isnt inked by the michigan race, then TRB doesnt want him back and are going in a different direction. Hopefully they will have the courtesy of letting him know this very soon. Most teams are pretty much set for the 09' season by now.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The team wants him in 2009, moron. It's up to Red Bull to decide, not RBRT. Stop throwing non-sense into the mix.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous 84 said...

TRB, RBRT, Redbull, Toyota, you know what im talking about. Point is, he isnt signed yet. And thats a problem. So watch your mouth mr annonymous, and use a name if you're gonna run your mouth, idiot.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to be a hypocrite "84". The people running the shop want him back, but it's not up to them, it's up to the owner of Red Bull to decide if he wants AJ back. I'm sure the people at the shop have to talk some sense into having AJ back. The chemistry that AJ and Jimmy have right now don't come so often. A lot of people are saying that the team doesn't want him back and that's not true. They're waiting on the word of the big boss. It's just a matter of time. There's no reason to get rid of AJ, be realistic. He made the top 35, that was the goal for 2008 and it has been accomplished.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Suzie said...

Anonymous is right. All Red Bull athlete decisions are up to he massive marketing department in Austria. Of course they listen to the various teams some, but we saw STR pull Scott Speed out of his car when he had better stats than his teammate.

I think they SHOULD bring A.J. back. I was a harsh critic of him early on, but he has really proven himself to me, and has excelled since being given this new crew chief.

However, I don't know if they WILL get him back. It seems like there's a lot of apprehension within the higher ups at the Red Bull Corporation. Red Bull doesn't want its name attached to under performing teams anymore. They're really trying to push themselves upmarket. When they first started their push in the U.S. market, they'd support anything, but they really want more prestige now.

I know Jayski hasn't reported on this, but one rumor I have heard is that Red Bull may be working on sponsoring another Toyota part time at the end of this year or beginning of next year for Scott Speed. Namely, Joe Gibbs. They're putting together a few rides for Joey Logano in a Gatorade sponsored car, so I don't know if there'd be some sort of joint Pepsi/Red Bull deal or what, but it sounds plausible.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous 84 said...

"anonymous", I know its the redbull high ups that make the decision, sorry i didnt clarify you, seemsl ike you just want to start shit with me, again sorry I didnt clarify you, Hell why dont you do the negotiations between Redbull and AJ, seemsl ike you know everything and have some kind of inside knowledge, if not, you're just talking out of your ass like the rest of us and its all just speculation.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Suzie, I have also heard this rumor of Red Bull putting Scott in another teams car this year to get a little experience before putting him in a RBRT car, but I am almost 100% sure it not be with Joe Gibbs Racing. For one just because Gatorade, Pepsi, Moutain Dew, and AMP are all the same company they will want nothing that connects them back to a driver backed or sponsored by Red Bull. Nothing against Scott but this is just the business side of NASCAR.

If Scott does not drive a 3rd RBRT car this year (which I hope he does) I am willing to bet it will be a 2nd Bill Davis car. Which I hope is not the case because Scott will start his career in horrible equipment and is just a bad idea for a new driver in cup.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that I've heard it on TV that Jay Frye has said that they are able to field a 3rd car this year. If it's only 1 or 2 races for Scott, maybe the car doesn't need a sponsor. Just a thought. And I agree with anonymous (I'd never thought I'd say that) and Suzy about AJ's contract. It's better to look at it with the little facts we do have.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Suzie said...

If Speed isn't in a TRB car, it'll almost definitely be a Bill Davis one.

Which sucks, because Bill Davis sucks.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous theonlynick said...

I don't understand this. Yeah, I know the decision is left up to the big wigs in Austria, but it can't be a decision due to poor performance. BV had what?.. two or three CC changes before he started running good? AJ has had ONE, and they immediately took off. It's not AJ's fault that they waited so long to make the change.

AJ won the Sprint Showdown beating the likes of GEM, Penske, and yes, BV.

Sign the guy already.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it will be settled after Michigan. We'll see. I would rather not worry about AJ's contract because I know he's there to stay. He's shown a lot of commitment and determination. They have to keep him. AJ is capable of winning races and they know that.

I think we should be looking forward to this weekend. AJ can finally relax on Fridays and mainly concentrate on race trim for a change. BV is doing double duty.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous 84 said...

Curt, while AJ can relaz about being guaranteed in a Race, He now has a new problem to worry about.....will he have a ride next year? If he crashes a car will that affect the decision to give him a new contract? Those are things that are going on in his mind right now, and i think those things are making him worry more now than being in the top 35. We Shall see. Just hope he can continue to run good.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that's obvious but AJ knows what he needs to do. We know what he needs to do. With the way they have been running since Jimmy Elledge came on board, I don't know how you can ever doubt them. They could finish the season around 25th in owner points.

I quote AJ: "The way I look at it is, I want to be here at Red Bull next year, because I think what we’ve got, we’re really starting to make some headway, especially the last four weeks. It’s amazing how quickly you can turn things around with just a couple of key additions. I like having Jimmy Elledge as my crew chief. I just want to keep running well, be in the top 10 – not around it, be in it – and if I do that the contract stuff will take care of itself, whether it’s with Red Bull or another team."

Source: Yahoo Sports

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red Bull Scam, search Red Bull

9:28 AM  

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