Painful, But Productive, Day
Certain his shoulders would ache in five hours, AJ Allmendinger rested with his feet up in the No. 84 hauler, eyes and ears tuned to NFL action on the flat screen.
“Not just ache,” he said, “but pain. It just hurts. This is such a tough race.”
Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway delivered everything AJ expected on his way to a 16th-place finish — a flurry of yellow flags, pit strategy, the car’s tight condition and a body sure to hurt Monday morning.
AJ was running fourth just before the halfway point, but the No. 84 grew progessively tighter in the second half, prompting AJ to relay by radio that "turning is non-existent."
The team later discovered that a broken track bar mount probably didn’t help the handling.
“I think it broke right before our pit strategy put us in the top five because the last two runs, we were just way too tight,” AJ said. “It wasn’t a top-five car, but I thought we could maybe get right there around 12th or 13th and see what happened, and that’s kind of where we were running. After that, it was just tighter than it had been all day.”
AJ’s sixth top-20 finish in the past 10 races moved the No. 84 up two spots to 34th in the car owner standings.
Teammate Brian Vickers battled grip issues all afternoon. Hardly ever could he carry speed through the corners or run the bottom. No series of adjustments seemed to help the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, and when they did near the lap-350 mark, it was too late.
Brian finished 31st and dropped one spot in points to 17th.
“If we still want that 13th spot — which we do — we need to get our stuff together,” he said. “I don’t know what was wrong, but we had no grip all day. I was running as fast as the car was going to let me through the corners.”