Allmendinger Claims the Victory at the Charlotte ROVAL; Byron and Larson Advance to Round of Eight

Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger scored the first playoff upset of the season – taking his No. 16 Celsius Camaro ZL1 to the victory in the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

 

·       A four time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Allmendinger has now recorded 14 career road course victories at the NASCAR national level, with three coming in NASCAR’s premier series.  

 

·       Allmendinger delivered Chevrolet its series-leading fourth NASCAR Cup Series victory in the series’ sixth appearance at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

 

·       Chevrolet continues to lead the series with 16 NASCAR Cup Series victories this season, and 849 all-time victories in NASCAR’s premier series.

 

·       Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson advanced to the NASCAR Cup Series Round of Eight. With the playoff standings reset, Byron maintains the top position of the standings, with Larson in the fourth position, heading into the next round.  

 

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 8, 2023) – AJ Allmendinger drove his No. 16 Kaulig Racing Camaro ZL1 to the first playoff upset of the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season – taking the win in the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. The 41-year-old California native put his road course skills on display early in the final stage of the pivotal postseason race – enduring five late-race restarts and leading the final 33 circuits en route to his third career NCS victory. Allmendinger became the seventh different driver from the fifth different Chevrolet team to reach victory lane in NASCAR’s premier series this season – delivering the manufacturer its 16th NCS triumph of 2023.

 

“You don’t know when you’re going to do it again. I love all the men and women at Kaulig Racing so much,” said an emotional Allmendinger. “My mom and dad, all my family and friends – those people see how much anguish and how much I put it on my shoulders when we’re struggling. It just means the world.” 

 

Allmendinger had to hold-off a late race charge by a pair of fellow Team Chevy drivers, including playoff contender William Byron. Already solidifying his spot in the next round with his win at Texas Motor Speedway, Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 team continues to prove to be a championship contender – collecting top-two finishes in all three races in the Round of 12. The 25-year-old North Carolina carries momentum into what is already slated to be his strongest round in the postseason – having a win on his resume at each of the next three tracks. 

 

 

“Just proud of the whole team, said Byron. “The Z by HP Camaro was awesome. We definitely improved a lot as the race went on. Just good momentum. We’ve got to keep it rolling. I’d like to finish one-two-two in the next round, too. That would be ideal, but we just have to keep performing like this and we’ll be where we want to be.”

Entering the ROVAL weekend in a ‘must-win’ situation to advance into the next round, Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch stayed in contention all race long. The 38-year-old Nevada native collected top-10 finishes in both stages before ultimately taking the checkered flag in the third position in his No. 8 Lenovo Camaro ZL1 – bringing Chevrolet to its fifth podium sweep of the season.

 

Despite a challenging weekend, Kyle Larson became the second Team Chevy driver to advance into the Round of Eight. An incident early in Saturday’s practice session forced the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 team to a backup car and a starting position at the rear of the field for the 400-mile race. Scoring a top-five finish in Stage Two, the former series champion ended the race in the 13th position – earning enough points to continue in the championship title battle. With the playoff standings reset, Larson will join Byron in the top-four of the standings as the series enters the next round. 

 

 

“It was a stressful weekend, but the No. 5 team and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports did a great job working hard on this backup car late last night,” said Larson. “I felt like our car was really good today. We were just pretty conservative there at times. I just didn’t want to make a mistake like I did last year and take ourselves completely out of it. It was just stressful there the final stage, but we were able to get in, which was the goal.”

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of Eight will get underway at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the South Point 400 on Sunday, October 15, at 2:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage can be found on the NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

KAULIG RACING POST-RACE WIN PRESS CONFERENCE TRASCRIPT:

 

THE MODERATOR: We’ve now been joined by our Bank of America Roval 400 race-winning team. Quite a treat to have everyone here with us at one time. We’ve been joined by Chris Rice, who’s the president of Kaulig Racing; the race-winning driver, AJ Allmendinger; race-winning crew chief, Matt Swiderski, and at the very end of the table we have team owner Matt Kaulig.

Congratulations to all of you. To kick us off, we’ll start with AJ.

 

You had a great lead there at the end or toward the end, but also a lot of cautions, a lot of restarts. Take us through some of those final restarts and what was going through your mind?

 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, just with the new restart zone, just kind of unique as you kind of throttle up, we’re all going to be kind of bouncing off each other. It’s so narrow through there and everybody is trying to get it.

 

When Ty got me kind of on that initial restart, it showed me what I did wrong, so it helped me a lot on the next couple of restarts of what to do.

 

I thought the 54 might be the best car on longer runs there. I felt like if Kyle was behind me, like we had Kyle cover on the long runs because I had ran around him the whole race, and I knew the 24 had just kind of been lying back there 4th to 6th all day.

 

I was just trying to get the lead and try to get a big enough gap because the only thing that we really struggled with was rear tires at the end of a long run, and that’s kind of what we were fighting.

 

Those restarts may have helped the tire life, but I would always have a good-sized — enough of a lead that I thought I could pace myself and then you’d have to go through the restarts again.

The biggest thing was trying to change it up just enough to time it right, and it’s track position-based, so I knew if I could get in the lead, it was going to make it a difficult challenge for them to get around me, and that was just always the focus on those restarts.

 

Q. Chris and Matt, during the post-race celebration, AJ made it very clear how emotional he was because of all the anguish, the pain, everything he goes through, trying to help you guys grow. From your perspective, how much more impactful is it for you when you do see him have those emotional moments, especially on a track where he’s dominated in the Xfinity Series?

CHRIS RICE: Before Matt talks, I’ll tell you, I’ve never met a race car driver so passionate about what he does, in and outside the race car, and I never met a race car driver that cares about an owner like he does.

 

I’ve met a lot of race car drivers, and I’ve talked to a lot of race car drivers in my life, but I’ve never met somebody like AJ Allmendinger. I think he got run through the ringer so many times and nobody ever dug into his life and how he is and how he acts enough to understand him.

I’ll tell you over the last month, he’s been very key and pivotal to everything we’re doing at Kaulig Racing. He knows everything we’re doing at Kaulig Racing, and he supports 98 percent of it I would say. He shouldn’t support it all because that’s what makes you better.

 

With that being said, when you see the emotion out of me, it’s for everybody at Kaulig Racing, but it’s for him, it’s for Tara, it’s for his new kid, his son Aero, because five years ago, six years ago I called Matt Kaulig and said, let’s give AJ Allmendinger — actually Matt called me and said, let’s go get the best road course racer in the world and try to go win road course races, and we called AJ Allmendinger.

 

He showed up in a Nebraska shirt. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He had no idea. We didn’t have a hotel room for him when he went to Watkins Glen. We got him disqualified two races in a row, and he still came back. He drove home from Daytona when he missed a race and he still came back. That’s the AJ we love, and when he gets emotional and he fires the crowd up, it’s about that.

 

When he fusses us out about winning and not winning and what we’re going to do, how we’re going to get better, he called me when our Xfinity cars were terrible this year, and he said, do you

know how bad you suck? I said, really? Yes, I do.

 

I think I told Claire wherever she’s at, it’s unacceptable, and that’s because of this guy.

For him to win and for him to be upset, we love it because we know how much he loves us.

 

MATT KAULIG: I’d say I’m super proud of AJ Even standing in Victory Lane and looking at AJ celebrating and doing what he does, I’m just super proud of him. It makes me not emotional, but I’m just super proud of this team and what they’ve done. I don’t know if I’d say we — I don’t know what our expectations were actually this year, but I’d say we struggled, and I know these guys feel like they’re way better than we’ve actually performed, but even being able to get into Victory Lane today I think puts — is really big for this team and for AJ and for Matt and for Chris. So it’s really cool. Really proud.

 

That’s how I felt actually just looking at AJ while he was celebrating, while he was doing all the interviews and while he was getting all the pictures taken. This guy has meant the world to me, meant the world to our team, and that’s how I feel.

 

Q. First, over those final five laps, you had your head in your hands a lot watching that. What were the emotions going through you through those final cautions, and how much were you breathing over those final laps?

CHRIS RICE: I wasn’t. I felt like I had let everybody down. I don’t know.

I don’t get upset much. I smile a lot. That’s what it’s about. But I feel like I’ve let everybody down. I done a horrible job when we started the Cup team. Matt Swiderski believed in what we were doing, and I felt like I let everybody down. Everybody in Ohio, I let AJ down, and for AJ to dominate — it wasn’t just he showed up and led the last lap. He dominated the entire race.

The pit crews have worked really hard at stepping up, and I didn’t breathe that much, and honestly, I spent a lot of time by myself.

 

It’s an open mic thing, and I told Squid, and he could just hear me talking, I finally said, I’ll just shut up, and he said, no, keep talking, it helps me.

 

I go to bed every night thinking about how can we make everybody better, and today shows that Matt Kaulig belongs in NASCAR. AJ Allmendinger belongs in a Cup car.

 

Can we win every week? No, absolutely not. But can we contend? Yes, and that’s what I was thinking about, and I wasn’t breathing.

 

Thank goodness for my health. Thank goodness for getting my health together because I think I spent the last 10 laps not breathing.

 

Q. AJ, for those final laps, knowing how this season has been, the frustration that’s gone on with it, how were you keeping yourself mentally staying, okay, I’ve got Ty looking for his first win, William there behind you, Kyle trying to get to the Playoffs, as well. How do you keep yourself pumped up and knowing that, hey, I can win this?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I try to study a lot of — not just the racetrack and things like that, but knowing where everybody is at in the Playoffs and what they’re racing for because you’re still going for a Cup win. Everybody is going to be aggressive, but there’s a different aggressive level and there’s desperation and there’s things like that.

 

I’ve loved racing against Ty over the last, what, four years now, 2020 or whenever he started in the Xfinity Series. I feel like me and him get along great. Us going back and forth was a lot of fun.

But with that said, you know what he’s lacing for, his first Cup win. It’s hard to do this. It’s freaking hard.

 

I know there’s certain teams and certain drivers that get a lot of opportunities to go win Cup races, but there’s also a lot of drivers and teams that don’t. I knew Ty — I thought we raced fairly clean for knowing what we were battling for. I knew Kyle had to win to make the playoffs. I kept looking up at the board to see where he was at points-wise.

 

Obviously I knew William was probably going to the next round. He’s going to be aggressive but maybe not desperate-aggressive. That was kind of what was playing in my head on who I was racing around.

 

At the end of the day, for me, it’s about if I give everything I have, I make no mistakes and William gets around me and beats me, yeah, it sucks, but I go home and I look in the mirror and say, yep, better team, better driver beat me that day.

 

The one thing I did not want to do was be that guy that made a mistake and let him by me, and that’s something that — this is what we all want, to be put in those pressure cooker moments, and if — these guys know. I struggle to believe in myself every day. It’s an ugly place sometimes. I always say I have the best life possible, and that’s why I’m miserable every day because it’s wake up, what the hell are you going to do to be better today.

 

God, it’s ugly sometimes, but it’s the way I am. I won’t ever change. Those are the moments that I dream of, of knowing, hey, you got the best of the best in the world behind you, it’s on you to not let them by.

 

I felt like I made a couple real small mistakes with the 24 behind me, the rear tires were starting to go, but those last seven, eight laps, that’s as perfect as I can drive a race car. Win or lose, but especially win, that’s the stuff that you walk in, you walk around with your chest out just that little bit because it’s very rare that I do that, but just walk around a little bit knowing when it’s time, I can be as perfect as possible.

 

Q. AJ, going into this race, was there anything that you did differently in preparation or just kind of your confidence level with how strong you’ve been on road courses?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, me and squad talked about that if we won we might not make Vegas because we’re going to be hung over the whole week, so we really focused on that and where we were going to go — we’ll be in Vegas. I’m not sure we’ll be at the racetrack. So that was pretty much —

 

CHRIS RICE: We’ve done that before and didn’t make it to the track.

 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: That was our plan was trying to plan out Vegas if we won.

No, you know, we know on the road courses, that’s our best opportunity to win a race. We’ve been good at other racetracks, and you ran inside the top 10 and things like that, but we know these are the races that we can shine.

 

I felt like Squid and I and the engineers and really all the men and women at Kaulig Racing but really us, we focused on — what did we start, three, four weeks ago working on the sim and that’s all we worked on. It’s like, okay, Texas coming up, we don’t care. We’re going to focus on winning the Roval.

 

I feel like that’s kind of what we did, and Squid, he’s got a tough job. He’s got to deal with me on the radio screaming at him constantly, how to be better, things like that. But that’s what I love about him is there’s no animosity after a race. There’s no ups and downs with him. He knows how much I care and how much I want us to be better.

 

I think that’s — we put that effort in the last four weeks, and we unloaded yesterday, and the thing was fast, and we talked about it. We made small adjustments, he made great adjustments during the race, especially — every team has to be, but in our situation, you’ve got to be almost perfect in a race like this to win it. I felt like all of us, we were.

 

Q. Going back to the restarts there, those last two, Kyle specifically, what’s the relationship that you guys have with each other, and obviously you knew what he was racing for. You kind of touched on that a little bit, but especially that penultimate restart he was able to clear Ty to move into second. How did that factor into how you had to defend against him specifically?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, good or bad to say, but I knew the guy I wanted behind me was Kyle because we were quicker than him, and I knew if I could get Kyle to second, I could probably just drive away.

 

Kyle has been fantastic to me my whole career. But when I started driving for these guys, especially when we — in 2020 with the pandemic and not having any practice, Kyle Busch is a guy that I can call whether I’m racing against him in an Xfinity race or Cup race or whatever and I just say, hey, man, I need some advice or how do you drive this place or things like that, and he will call you back and for an hour explain every detail.

 

There’s never a doubt in my mind that he’s telling me the truth. Like you know that he’s just going to do that, and I have that respect, and I have the same respect if he asks me a question about talking to him about it.

 

I knew he was going to race hard. I knew what he was racing for. But I also didn’t think he’d come clean me out or anything on a restart like that.

 

It was just about trying to lead into Turn 1 and not really give an opportunity to let him get to my bumper, and I knew once we could get through a couple of corners I could clear him and start driving away.

 

That was always my focus, but yeah, I definitely was trying everything I could to get Kyle to second on the restart just to know that like that could give me enough of a gap to kind of settle in and drive away.

 

Q. For Matt, yesterday AJ said that he wants to be in — that he’d prefer to be in the Cup Series full-time. We don’t know about his future next year. Obviously you guys are about trophy hunting. Why is it not a clear-cut decision to keep AJ in the Cup Series next year if that’s what you guys are about is winning races?

MATT KAULIG: We do want to win races and we love AJ We haven’t all decided — actually we just haven’t announced yet exactly what we’re doing. I think we’re pretty clear on what we’re doing, we just haven’t announced anything.

 

I actually defer most of these questions to Chris.

 

Q. All right, Chris, will AJ Allmendinger be racing full-time in the Cup Series next year?

CHRIS RICE: Wait for the announcement.

 

MATT KAULIG: I don’t know if he can do it. I don’t know if he can win trophies.

 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Me? We have like, what, 20, 21 banners from me in the shop?

 

CHRIS RICE: So when he wins, we’ve got to work tomorrow. When he won in Xfinity we could party. We don’t get to party with him. He won at Indy, we woke up the next day and he was green because he had been throwing up. We can’t do that now. We’ve got to think about our life and have a little fun. We’ve got to work tomorrow.

 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Sounds like a personal problem.

 

Q. Looking at it from afar, why is it not a clear-cut decision when you have a talented driver who obviously can win at the Cup level?

CHRIS RICE: It is a clear-cut decision, we just haven’t announced it yet.

 

Q. Chandler Smith, is he going to be returning to the Xfinity Series program next year —

AJ ALLMENDINGER: We’re celebrating a win here.

 

CHRIS RICE: I got you. You should talk to his agent.

 

Q. Has he asked for a buyout?

CHRIS RICE: You should talk to his agent.

 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: We also won a Cup race today, so that’s pretty cool.

 

CHRIS RICE: I didn’t know we could win. Talk to his agent.

 

Q. AJ, you just talked about how the intensity level that you carry yourself with and how you’re never going to change. I remember you talking after 2018, 2019 about how there was burnout associated with that, too. So I’m curious, how do you live with that sort of red line, and what is the sweet spot that you have to find to center yourself or whatever it needs to be for you to be at your peak optimal performance?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I’m first married to a unicorn, so Tara —

 

CHRIS RICE: And she looks good.

 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Thanks. She’s gorgeous, yes, that’s part of the unicorn masterpiece of Tara.

 

She supports me and puts up with all the ups and downs, and she’s just always there for whatever, comfort, leave me alone, whatever it may be.

 

A lot of it comes from the whole organization, but these two guys really, and then over the last year and a half — I mean, I guess we call it two years now that we’ve ran, what, six races, seven races in ’21? So it’s things like that that — my goal has always been no matter what team I drive for, whether it’s the owner or crew chief, men and women, pit crew, all that, they understand how much I care. That’s the only thing I’ve ever cared about is for them — if they walk away and say, what do you think of AJ, they can say he’s an A-hole and he bitches too much, but damn, we know he cares. They know I’m going to lay everything I’ve got.

 

I’ve been better — it’s really because of Matt and Chris, they allow me to be like that, and then when they see it kind of maybe going to the dark level of that, we go do something fun and they bring it back and we kind of start over again.

 

But that’s it.

 

This organization over the last five years — and I’ve said this before, but they’ve saved my life. Not just living day-to-day but the happiness of day-to-day because if 2018 would have been it, I did some cool things, but there’s always a, God, I wish I could have done some more.

But because of them, I’ve won on every type of oval in Xfinity, got to kiss the bricks at Indy —

 

CHRIS RICE: Twice.

 

AJ ALLMENDINGER: We’ve just done a lot of really special things, and because of that, they’ve allowed — they’ve saved my happiness.

 

Now if they wake up tomorrow and they’re like, hey, you’re old and you’re done, I can actually just be happy with everything that’s happened now in my career, and without them, I wouldn’t have had that. I would have always had that little bit of misery of not doing as much as I wanted.

 

Q. Then as a follow-up for Chris but really any of you guys can answer. Because Chris has worked and been around so many racers your entire life, have you had to rewrite the rules for how you manage a driver when it comes to AJ because AJ is such a unique character?

CHRIS RICE: A hundred percent. I mean, I have to not only manage him right, I’ve got to calm Squid down on Mondays, and that’s Matt Swiderski, his crew chief.

 

Yeah, so you have to read every person, right. I think I told you this this morning. You’ve got to understand what you’re dealing with. We have five drivers or four drivers, Justin Haley, AJ, Daniel Hemric and Chandler Smith and Derek Kraus is our simulator driver plus he drives some Xfinity for us, and you’ve got to learn how to treat them all.

 

I can’t treat Daniel Hemric and AJ Allmendinger the same. They’re just two totally different people, and they actually probably became best friends over the last couple of years.

I think AJ worries more about Daniel’s career than Daniel does, and I think Daniel worries more about AJ’s career than he does.

 

Yeah, what I’ve learned with AJ is you leave him alone when it’s time to leave him alone, but you also get in his ass when it’s time to get in his ass. He takes it. That’s the way it is.

 

But the key to AJ is he knows we have his back no matter what. If you think about a stat, he’s won a NASCAR race over the last five years. He’s won in NASCAR in either the Xfinity Series or Cup Series, he’s won one race over the last five years. He’s won every single year he’s signed a contract for Kaulig Racing. That’s why we have his back.

 

Q. Your post-race celebration up in the grandstands, I’m looking at a photo here, you were surrounded by every driver, uniform, sweatshirt, tee-shirt, hat possible. They were all loving on you, and then there’s this one guy that has an AJ Allmendinger shirt on, as well, just in case you missed him. But that was a crazy scene. What was it like being out there with those fans, and what made you think to do that?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I actually told Chris that I was going to do it. He said yesterday when I talked to him, said, what time are you getting to the track. I told him. He said, well, I might be going for a run. I said, yeah, the only run I’m planning on running is running into the crowd after we’re done racing.

 

I think you see my emotion, and that’s real. It’s raw. I don’t want to be crying on TV, but it comes down to that’s how much I care.

 

You know, I hope fans respect that. You don’t have to be a fan of mine, but I hope you respect how much I care and how much winning a race — the thing I hate most is watching somebody win a race and it’s because they win too much and they get out of the car, and they’re like, yay, and you’re like — they go, next, like okay, that’s how you know you win too much.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to be like that.

 

Yeah, it’s just raw emotion. You just want to go up there and celebrate.

 

I think maybe part of it was the first couple of races I won with Kaulig Racing I didn’t celebrate with anybody. It was the pandemic. Turned around, I was like, hey, all right. Good job, AJ Hell, Atlanta, they weren’t even allowed in Victory Lane.

 

I was just trying to have fun with it. It’s things — like I said, especially kids. You don’t have to be my fan, but I think we all love this sport. There’s a reason why we’re all in this sport, and it’s because at some point in your life, and a lot of it was when we were kids, you fell in love with it, for whatever reason why.

 

To me to go up there and celebrate, especially when there’s kids up there, that’s memories — maybe it’s a kid that’s never been to a race and didn’t really care. Next thing you know they’re celebrating next to a driver. It’s pretty special.

 

I don’t think about it in the time, but you just want to celebrate with everybody. It was cool — I told everybody coming to the start-finish line after, I said, all the men and women that are here, come celebrate with me on the front straight away, and then you go up there, and it’s just about making memories and having fun. Like I said, you don’t ever know if you’re going to win another Cup race, so you’ve got to celebrate like it’s your last. That’s why I celebrate, because you never know when it’s your last.

 

I spent many years not even come close to winning. You’re never going to see me get out of the car, do the, hey, and walk away. It’s raw emotion.

 

Q. AJ, your emotions are all over the place. You talk about how difficult it is for you and also how much you love it. I guess you guys already know what you’re doing and you’re not going to tell us, but I’m curious, you’re about a month into fatherhood. Let’s say you’re Jimmie Johnson and you can do anything you want and money is not a factor. What do you want to do, AJ?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I just want to keep racing with the Kaulig Racing Chevy. I’m not going anywhere. This will be the cars that whenever I’m done driving — Matt and Chris have given me the option of you keep doing this while you’re having fun and you’re enjoying it, and I’ve given them also the rule, keep me in the car as long as you want, as long as I’m bringing something to the race team. The moment I’m not, then it’s fair. I wouldn’t say we go our separate ways, but we do something different.

 

But yeah, I love what I’m doing. When you see me not having fun, it’s because I want us to be better. More importantly, I want me to be better because that’s what I put on my shoulders is to

be better for all of us, to make us better.

 

That’s why you see so much emotion come out of me.

 

Q. Matt, this is your second full-time season and your first Cup win as a full-time car owner. I know you have won a Cup race before, but is it harder than you thought it was going to be?

MATT KAULIG: Yeah. I mean, I almost talk about it as being almost impossible. That’s actually how Chris and I talk about it. It’s like, these things are impossible to win just because the talent level of — the talent level of everybody on the teams, the drivers, the crew chiefs, the engineers, it’s the highest level of motorsports.

 

It’s a really, really hard almost impossible thing to do.

 

With AJ and with our team, we’ve actually now done it twice.

 

You know, our goal, honestly, when I got into the sport eight years ago, nine years ago, our goal was to maybe try to win an Xfinity race, like one. It was a pretty surreal moment even standing there watching everybody run out to — like AJ said, to the start-finish line and congratulate AJ

I just stood on the pit lane or pit road or whatever and just watched everybody, and it’s a really surreal experience to say what all the men and women and drivers and everybody else at Kaulig Racing have done and experienced.

 

We just won our second Cup race, and just how proud I am of Chris, how proud I am of AJ and of Matt, and again, all the men and women at Kaulig Racing for what they’ve accomplished over the last several years.

 

But it’s just a really surreal experience, and I’m really proud of them.

 

I’m proud of them for them. You know, as the laps were winding down when it was 15 to go and 10 to go and you were seeing everything play out today, I was just standing behind the pit box just thinking that and watching that. I’ve got my name all over it, there’s Kaulig Racing, there’s Kaulig companies everywhere, and there’s Leaf Filter, my company that I started in 2005 that’s all over the cars, and seeing all of our sponsors and seeing all the employees that have worked for us now for literally years, just really proud of them and proud for them of what they’re accomplishing.

 

Really, really grateful.

 

Q. AJ, this race seemed like there was a lot more action throughout the field, more natural cautions in the last two. Is that a result of racetrack, being an elimination race, desperation? What were your thoughts on that?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I think obviously the stage breaks, they kind of bunch the field back up, and you’ve got the saying cautions breed cautions. But I think some of it’s the racetrack, as well.

 

Especially in the infield, it’s easy to make a mistake and slap the fence, and it’s easy to get into somebody, and with where we’re at in the year, drivers, we’re all racing for something, whether it’s a championship, it’s trying to make it to the next round. It’s the best position possible in points, or you’re searching for a ride, everybody is kind of probably on edge. It’s a long season.

 

I think that’s a lot of the reason you see so much aggression level, and then especially at the end of the race with all those cautions, it’s just going to — everybody is going to start taking and no gives.

 

I think that’s probably a big reason of why.

 

Q. Probably two of the most challenging road courses that you run on are here and at Indy, and you’ve won both. In a lot of ways, if it’s a tough race course, I guess you’re the guy that’s ready for the challenge. How do you describe being able to master both of those?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, it takes a great race car for sure. It takes everything kind of working out the right way. I’ve grown up road course racing. Part of what I love about it is I feel like I can — a driver can make a little bit of a different. It still takes an amazing race car to go out there and do it. I thought last year here we had a real shot to win the race, and it just didn’t play out the way we wanted it to, but a lot of it — a lot of the credit goes to Squid just because he works so hard at the shop kind of in the leadership role of overseeing the Cup program and kind of trying to figure out which direction we need to go.

 

Obviously Chris has got — overseeing everything, but with Squid, we’ve had some road courses this year early in the year especially where we probably struggled a lot. Chicago was a race that we completely missed it and just struggled.

 

But I feel like over the last few, we’ve had a lot of speed. Indy we missed it early in the weekend and put us behind, and the race just didn’t play out the way we wanted it to.

 

Watkins Glen I thought maybe we had one of the cars to beat, just couldn’t get up front.

So yeah, when we have a good race car and we do the things that we know we’re capable of doing, we know we can at least be up front at any type of racetrack, but as I said, we can go out there and win the race.

 

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys, for spending some time with us. Congratulations again.

 

GM PR

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