Though A.J. Allmendinger closed 2016 with four top-10 finishes in the last six races, he is disappointed in the performance at JTG-Daugherty Racing.
His hot run to end the season started at Kansas Speedway, when he qualified 10th, finishing eighth. The next week at Talladega Superspeedway, he had a 10th-place finish and topped off a career-high third consecutive top-10 effort at Martinsville Speedway, finishing 10th after leading five laps early on in the event.
At the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Allmendinger seemed to continue that hot streak, putting forth an eighth-place effort. The No. 47 team qualified 12th, falling back during the race but sneaking back into the top 10 when the late wreck decimated the front of the field.
You would think that type of streak would leave a driver satisfied with his season-ending performance. It didn’t.
“We struggled,” Allmendinger told Frontstretch of his performance at Homestead. “I thought we were pretty good in practice and I was shocked by how bad we were. We could never get the car to turn. This is the tire that we struggled on every time we run it. We kept fighting. We got down two, nearly three laps, kept taking the wave around after getting the yellows at the right time.”
Throughout the majority of the 400 miles, Allmendinger was running in the mid-20s. But after adjusting on the racecar, crew chief Randall Burnett got the car the best it was all day by the end of the race. The 10-car pileup with 10 laps to go left the No. 47 team with an opportunity and they made the most of it.
The top-10 finish was Allmendinger’s third on a 1.5-mile track in 2016, the most since joining JTG-Daugherty Racing in 2013.
“That’s how some of these races are, you’re not always going to be fantastic,” Allmendinger said. “You’ve got to keep fighting to get it and get some luck sometimes. That’s where we’ve got to be better at and we’ll work hard over the winter. I want to keep getting better.”
Allmendinger finished the season with nine top 10s, the second most of his career and his best season with JTG-Daugherty. He finished the season 19th in the championship standings, marking the fourth time in the last seven seasons that he had a top-20 points effort.
It was still short of Allmendinger’s goal: make the Chase, contend for wins and show this team can compete with the sport’s larger programs.
“We’ve got to go to work,” he said. “We know we should be better than this. We got a great finish and had a solid year with some ups and downs, but that’s what keeps building us as a race team.”
Rumors have been swirling around the garage that JTG-Daugherty Racing is looking to expand to a two-car operation in 2017. If so, it would be the first time since 2012 that Allmendinger would have a teammate after having an alliance with Richard Childress Racing each of the past three seasons.
About the author
Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.
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