When race fans hear the name AJ, who is the first person that pops into your head? For most hardcore fans, the face of AJ Foyt would be the person they see in their minds eye.
For the 33 year old Californian who competes weekly in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, AJ Allmendinger, this fact is one that doesn't bother him at all. Groomed for most of his early career as an open wheel ace, Allmendinger's career has taken similar paths to the elder Texan he is named after. He competed and won in the Champ Car Series, is a winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and has been a winner in NASCAR for JTG-Daughtery Racing.
Recently, AJ took a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions from this AJ, and revealed a bit more about his personality, his goals, and his feelings about the sport he loves; racing!
1) Given your previous IndyCar experience, and the remarkable job their safety team did in responding quickly to the Hinchcliffe crash, how do you feel about the fact that NASCAR is one of the only touring race series that doesn't have their own dedicated safety staff? "I'd say the nurses that NASCAR have in place and that travel with us on a regular basis do a great job. Being on the Indy side, having a traveling team doctor is something that I feel like we need or sets of them that can switch out since we travel so much on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit."
2) JTG Daugherty doesn't have the same financial resources as teams such as Penske or Hendrick, but has always seemed to be able to keep up with them over the long haul. What do you think your chances or making the Chase are for 2015? "I feel like our chances with our No. 47 Hungry Jack Chevrolet SS are as good as anyone else that has not won a race yet. We have got to go win a race and if we do that, then we are in The Chase."
3) What is the best part about having Hungry Jack as your sponsor? "I get free pancakes and I love that because I'm a big pancakes guy. Pancakes are a part of my regular breakfast routine before a race. Growing up, family breakfast usually included my mom whipping up a batch of pancakes and I was always about keeping it simple. All I need is a big ol' stack of Hungry Jack pancakes with syrup on top and I'm happy."
4) What is your goal for this weekend's Quicken Loans 400? "I think the goal for this weekend with our Hungry Jack Chevrolet SS at Michigan International Speedway is to make progress. Sure, you want to win or have a top-10, but the biggest goal is to just make progress and if you can do that the finishes will come."
5) As a previous Rolex 24 winner, what is your opinion of the recently announced changes for the 2017 rules package in the TUDOR Championship Series? "I haven't seen the rules package yet. I've just been solely focused on NASCAR."
6) As a Californian, do you feel that NASCAR does a good job engaging the west coast audience? "I think NASCAR does a good job for the most part to engage with our West Coast audience. We have a decent amount of West Coast races, which is great."
7) Do you think the NASCAR schedule is too long, too short, or just right? "I'm pretty sure the schedule will never be shortened."
8) Recently, there have been calls to shorten the length of the races in NASCAR to roughly half of their current length. What is your opinion about this debate? "I think the races should be three-quarters of the length. If the race is shorter, I think you will see drivers being more aggressive."
9) Which race are you most looking forward to this year? "I look forward to every weekend just as much as the next. If I have to pick a race or two, I guess my favorite two races that I look forward to are at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International."
10) Do you think you'll ever attempt the double as Kurt Busch tried in 2014? "There's always a chance."
I'd like to thank AJ for giving me the opportunity to delve a bit more into his feelings about racing, and invite all of you to tune in each week to Speedway Digest's Thursday Night Thunder, where you will find out a bit more about some of the other personalities in the world of motorsports.