HOMESTEAD, Fla. — AJ Allmendinger, making his final start for JTG Daugherty Racing Sunday, says he is not sure when and where he’ll race again after this weekend.
“As of right now, I have zero races planned,” Allmendinger told NBC Sports. “I’ve got nothing. Maybe there are races that crop up over the course of the season. I’ll say for sure, let’s go 95 percent sure, that I definitely won’t be racing a full season in anything.”
Allmendinger said he’d like to run the Xfinity and Cup road course races next year. His lone Cup win came in 2014 at Watkins Glen. His two Xinity wins also came on road courses – Road America in 2013, Mid-Ohio in 2013.
“If I could put together a deal to run all the road courses or most of the road courses in Xfinity and Cup, that would be fun,” Allmendinger said. “It’s me, so if there’s a chance to race anything I’ll go do it. We know the way the situation is in the sport, need sponsorship and everything happened pretty late so a lot of stuff was being filled up. Even the stuff that’s not announced we know is full.”
Sunday will be Allmendinger’s 371st career Cup start.
“I think mentally right now with zero races on board I have to prepare that it could be my last race,” Allmendinger said. “Do I expect it to be my last race ever? No, but as I stand right now to prepare for it mentally, I have to get ready for that. There’s a chance it might be.”
He debuted with Red Bull Racing in 2007. He drove for Team Penske in 2012 before losing that ride after 17 races when NASCAR suspended him for violating its Substance Abuse Policy. Allmendinger later said he was given a pill from a friend that he thought was an energy supplement but was the prescription drug Adderall. He later returned to Team Penske to win those Xfinity races.
He also won the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona and finished third in the Champ Car Series in 2006, winning five races.
How does Allmendinger look back upon his career?
“There’s not a lot of people in this world who can say they’ve won a Cup race, Xfinity races, a Rolex race outright, they’ve won Champ car races and might have won an Indy 500 if my seat belt didn’t come off,” he said.
1) On the eve of what quite possibly could be my last full time race in auto racing I cant help look back and thank the people that have made my career what it has been. @paultracy3 for giving me an opportunity in karting to make a bigger name for myself and push me to the next
2) level. Skip Barber himself for believing in my talent and helping me through his organization and all those people in that organization. Rick-Rat, @BeeDubb99@OzzNegri and so many more. Carl Russo for giving me the chance to win a Toyota Atlantic Championship and make my dream
3) come true & race in CWS. Jerry Forsythe for giving me the chance to join his team and go out win so many races. Do something I always wanted to do and stand on the top of a champcar podium. @redbullmotors for sticking with me in champcar and giving me my first opportunity in
4)Nascar. @RPMotorsports and especially the King himself for allowing me to continue in Nascar when I wasnt sure what my next move would be. @Team_Penske and truly RP for making a life long hope and dream of wearing those iconic colors come true. And walk with you side by side
5)through gasoline alley for the Indy 500. James Finch for giving me a car to race for his team and giving me a second chance to get back into the sport. And @JTGRacing Tad & Jodi for giving me a home for 5 years. Winning a cup race together. Making the playoffs. So many good
6) memories. All of our sponsors we have had but especially @kroger for what they have provided for this team over the last 4 years but more importantly all the people we have met and friendships we have created. It has meant the world to me and my family.
7) And last but not least. @MichaelShankRac My big brother. One of my closest friends. My family. Words can not even begin to describe how I feel bout you Shank. The ups and downs. The wins and losses. U have done so much for me. I love you from the bottom of my heart.Always will
8) We wish we could go out on our own terms. Not always do we get what we want. But with that said I have been so blessed. So lucky and fortunate. No regrets. Cant wait for what the future holds. And especially cant thank all of my fans and supporters enough. U have made it great
The biggest unknown for Sunday’s inaugural Cup race on the Daytona road course?
Ryan Newman says “there are so many unknowns that it would be fabricating for me to tell you if I knew what the biggest unknown was.”
But with all the uncertainties heading into the race (3 p.m. ET on NBC) on a new course for Cup teams — and no practice — Newman is counting on one near certainty.
“I hope it rains,” he said. “I hope you add in the extra that we have to bolt on rain tires and we get something that is just spectacular. I hope that. The reality is that could be the biggest unknown that we have. We’re in Central Florida in the middle of August when it pretty much rains every day. We’ll see. I don’t know. I look forward to it.”
Good chance he gets his wish.
The wunderground.com forecast for Sunday calls for scattered thunderstorms throughout the afternoon. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:24 p.m. ET. There is a 58% chance of scattered thunderstorms at that time.
Goodyear will bring rain tires for the weekend and teams will run in the rain, provided it is not a downpour and there is not lightning within an 8-mile radius of the track. Cup teams have never run a race on rain tires.
Only three times in Cup history have rain tires been employed. Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin used them in a test in 1995 at Watkins Glen. Teams practiced and qualified on rain tires at Suzuka in 1997 for the exhibition race in Japan. Rain tires were last used in Cup for a practice session at Watkins Glen in 2000.
Rain or shine, the task of racing on a new course without practice will be challenging enough for competitors.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being difficult, this is a 10,” Kurt Busch told NBC Sports.
“I’m excited for the challenge, the uniqueness of it all, how it’s just crazy, basically.”
Patience will be key. But not all 39 drivers will practice that equally when the green flag waves.
“I’ve got laps around that track without the extra chicane but that doesn’t mean I won’t haul off into Turn 1 and blow through the grass,” Newman said. “You don’t know. It will be more patience than aggressiveness I promise you by pretty much everyone. Those that don’t, you’ll notice.”
Kevin Harvick, who swept the Cup races at Michigan last weekend, will lead the field into Turn 1 and he’s not sure what to expect.
“I think me leading everybody into Turn 1 at Daytona could be interesting because I have no freaking clue where I’m going as we go down there,” he said. “Most everybody in the field is the same way.”
Turn 1 on the Daytona road course is a left-hand turn off the frontstretch just past pit exit. That begins the six-turn infield portion of the 3.61-mile course before cars return to the oval in what is its Turn 1.
Teams stay on the oval through the backstretch before turning into the chicane there and going back on to the oval. A chicane was added off what is Turn 4 on the oval to help slow the cars before returning to the infield portion of the course. That was done for fear that the high speeds would wear the brakes over the race.
“I think it’s going to take everybody a little bit of time,” Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports. “I think there are going to be some people who have raced road courses a lot that probably feel more confident than others and possibly be overzealous and just charging it hard right away, and there’s probably going to be other people who are careful and see how many people slide into things. … It should be really interesting. If I was a fan, I’d be all about not having practice.”
Here are Cup drivers entered for Sunday’s race who have competed on the Daytona road course (overall finish)
Deegan, who competes in the ARCA Menards Series, will be in the field when the series takes to the 14-turn, 3.61-mile circuit for practice and a race Friday evening (5 p.m. ET on Trackpass).
“I’m pretty excited because this was not one of the races we had planned on our schedule,” Deegan told NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast earlier this week. “At the beginning of the year I saw all the races, obviously to see which ones you’re looking forward to, like your favorites and stuff and obviously this on wasn’t on there. … I like road courses. I raced at Sonoma about twice (in ARCA Menards West). I was decent there, I qualified on the pole one of the times (2019) there against a lot of good drivers. It was a confirmation that, ‘Ok, we’re decent at road courses.'”
Deegan, who enters the race fourth in the point standings behind Michael Self, first got a shot at the road course at the beginning of the year. As a Ford development driver, she took part in multiple days of testing before competing in a Michelin Pilot Challenge race in a GT4 Mustang.
“I would not say I’m perfect at road courses,” Deegan said. “But I feel that’s one of my stronger suits. I’m trying to learn this whole stock car world. Circle track, everything like that, that’s all been a foreign concept. So everything I’m learning I’m learning for the first time. But when we go back to road courses, I grew up in go karting, I grew up racing off-road trucks on courses where you turn right and left. So that’s not a foreign concept to me. So I feel more comfortable on road courses, especially with us only getting an hour of practice and all the time I have on that track.
“I have so many days of practice from the beginning of the year on that track. Obviously, it’s a different car, a GT4 Mustang. … It’s easy to drive, but hard to be fast in an IMSA car. (While) the stock cars are harder to drive, but you have that experience, I feel like you can have a little bit of an advantage over people.”
NASCAR issued an update to teams to the sanctioning body’s COVID-19 guidelines this week.
If after 10 days, a NASCAR member is unable to produce two negative PCR tests, their return status may be medically reviewed by a NASCAR Consulting physician. Previously, a NASCAR member needed to have two negative tests more than 24 hours apart and a note from their physician to be cleared to compete.
NASCAR cites new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with updating the sport’s COVID-19 guidelines.
“As we’ve said since our return, NASCAR’s health and safety plans will continue to evolve, with the goal remaining the same – a safe event for both our competitors and the communities in which we race,” said John Bobo, NASCAR vice president, racing operations, in a statement. “NASCAR will continue to implement and execute a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of our competitors and the surrounding communities.”
Here are NASCAR’s updated COVID-19 guidelines:
Confirmed Positive Cases – Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Cases. Confirmed positive cases may return to racing activities after they have received two negative test results taken at least 24 hours apart.
A. If after 10 days, a NASCAR Member is unable to produce two negative PCR tests, their return status may be medically reviewed by a NASCAR Consulting physician.
New CDC guidance of July 22, 2020, recommends discontinuing PCR testing after the conclusion of the 10-day isolation period for the onset symptoms for the initial COVID-19 infection, if a person is fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without the use of medication.
Please note: Based on advice from consulting physicians, NASCAR counts the 10 days from the date of the first positive PCR test for COVID-19.
In its guidance, CDC research indicates that in no instances yet discovered has there been a case where the virus is able to self-replicate beyond the 10th day following a positive test among individuals who are not immunosuppressed and did not have severe disease (e.g. requiring ICU stay or ventilation), so an individual in this situation poses no harm to others. In the event that the individual continues to be tested, it is very likely that the individual will continue to return positive results.
Based on this new CDC guidance, NASCAR consulting physicians would review the individual’s situation and determine if they appropriately fit the CDC requirements before being allowed to return to racing without two negative PCR tests.
B. They must also have written clearance from their personal physician to resume all racing activity.
Confirmed exposure to a positive COVID-19 person. Those exposed individuals are required to stand-down from competition and self-isolate. They may return to racing activities after they have received one negative test. NASCAR in its discretion may request a second test for clearance based on the nature of the exposure. Please note: a confirmed exposure is based on a totality of the circumstances as determined by NASCAR in consultation with their consulting physicians. Analysis will include: identifying people exposed over the last 10 days, accumulated time greater than 10 minutes, direct skin contact (shaking hands, etc.), lack of social distancing and the level of PPE use among the individuals involved in the contact.