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Allmendinger Earns Pole At Kansas

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 21 2012

A.J. Allmendinger was in the spotlight Saturday at Kansas. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A.J. Allmendinger, driving a Penske Racing Dodge, won the pole on Saturday afternoon for Sunday’s STP 400 Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway. Harvick’s pole lap was at 175.993 mph.

The pole was the first at Kansas in a Cup car for Almendinger, who moved to Penske from Richard Petty Motorsports for the 2012 season. It was the second pole of his career.

“I didn’t think that the lap was amazing,” Allmendinger said. “It was OK. When Todd told me the lap time, I was shocked by it.”

Second fastest in qualifying at the 1.5-mile Kansas tri-oval was Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing. His lap was at 175.724 mph.

Third was Joey Logano in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. His fast lap was at 175.724 mph.

Logano’s teammate, Denny Hamlin was fourth and Mark Martin of Michael Waltrip Racing was fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Sam Hornish Jr.

Allmendinger got off to a rough start in his first year taking over for Kurt Busch at Penske. Through the first five races, his best finish was 15th, which he got at Auto Club Speedway.

But two races ago, he finished second at Martinsville and then 15th again last weekend at Texas.

“Yeah, we’re getting closer,” Allmendinger said when asked if the team was improving. “We just need to get faster throughout a whole race. We’re still working together and I think that’s what people don’t really understand. It’s tough to be a brand new crew chief in the Cup Series along with a driver coming to a race team for the first time. To figure out what we need together and things like that.

“The good thing is that the Penske organization builds fast racecars. Dodge is a huge supporter or ours. We know when we do figure it out, we have the potential to win a lot of races. It’s just tough getting to that point. I put all the pressure on my shoulders to be there now. The great thing is that Mr. (Roger) Penske and everybody in the organization is patient. They’re like, ‘It takes time.’ It’s just because these guys deserve it. They’re use to running up front. We’ll get there. It’s a lot of work. We’re not quite there yet. But when we do get there, we’ll have the chance to win a lot of races.”

The move to Penske was a move to the big time. It’s a move to a team that is well funded and, best of all for Allmendinger, stable.

“It’s the stability of the race team around me,” Allmendinger said. “I know it’s there. Because of that, I put more pressure on myself, because I know the equipment is there. Brad (Keselowski) and Paul Wolfe show it every weekend. It’s a constant battle working on patience for me. I’m definitely not very good at that. It really helps to have Mr. Penske and everybody be so patient and not expect (it) right away.

“They know it takes time. And for me, it gives me more confidence going into a race weekend just because I know the organization that I’m around, the equipment that I’m around and I know the sponsors that we have and everything that goes into it. For me, I’m just trying to work on patience. I want (it) now. These guys deserve to win races. They’re use to it. I want to win races for the whole organizations. I think it’s a constant battle that I’m trying to work on.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 21 2012
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