What started as a promising day for pole-sitter AJ Allmendinger quickly dissolved into disappointment, as a throttle linkage problem waylaid the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge.
Fuel pickup issues have plagued the Penske teams in previous races, but this was different. After leading the first 44 laps, Allmendinger brought his car to pit road and ran out of fuel on the way to his stall. Â Then the problem with the linkage ruined his race.
"I know I'm not the only one here that's frustrated," said Allmendinger, who has yet to win a Cup race. "We all are. We were off to such a great start. We had the pole, the 22 AAA Dodge Charger was so good that first run. Our car was fast out front, and then the gremlins hit us. Not sure how to explain it other than you're on the pole one minute riding around leading laps, and then next thing you know your car isn't right. We ran out of fuel coming to pit road on our first stop, but managed to get back out in seventh.Â
"But it went downhill quickly from there. It felt like the engine was blowing. I have to give (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) and all the guys a lot of credit for rolling up their sleeves and figuring out the cause of the problem. I thought for sure that the motor was gone because how flat it got, but that wasn't the case.Â Todd told me over the radio that it was a secondary throttle linkage and I just couldn't believe it. That's about as rare as it gets."