CONCORD, N.C. – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger finished 33rd in tonight’s Coca-Cola 600 here at Charlotte Motor Speedway after braking system problems relegated him to the garage for lengthy repairs. Allmendinger completed 361 of the 400 laps and fell to 24th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings after 12 races have been put into the 2012 record books.
“I really don’t know what to say,” crew chief Todd Gordon said on the team radio when the race concluded. For Allmendinger, Gordon and the No. 22 Penske Racing Team, it was just another chapter of the bad luck that has plagued the team so far this season.
“We’re bound to turn it around soon and I can’t think of a better place to do that than next weekend at Dover,” Gordon said back at the team transporter as the crews began loading their race cars. “It was a hub failure and we know that. We’ll take all the parts we removed from the car when we had the problem and see if we can figure out exactly what happened.”
“We’re headed to VIR (Virginia International Raceway) on Tuesday to do some road course testing and we’ll be back at it full force next Friday at Dover,” Gordon added. “AJ has said that Dover is his favorite race track. He’s excited about going there and we’re really looking forward to next weekend.”
Allmendinger started 11th in tonight’s race and encountered a tight-handling Dodge Charger early into the race. The team used air pressure, wedge and track bar adjustments that offered little relief, but were hoping the changing track conditions might eventually see things come their way.
Allmendinger leveled off running between the 12-18 positions and was shown as 15th when he radioed that something was drastically wrong with his brake pedal. He was able to get the car to the inside and hit pit road as he completed Lap 172. The team went under the hood and took the left-front wheel off.
A hub problem was diagnosed and the team was forced to push the car backwards down pit road and into the garage. When the damage prevented the wheel to turn at all, a rolling jack had to be placed under it in order to get the car back to the garage stall to make repairs.
The team replaced the left-front hub and all the components and Allmendinger returned to the race running 36th and 38 laps down to the leaders. He had to just ride it out to the finish, coming home 33rd.
Kasey Kahne proved to have the fastest car down the stretch as he drove his Quaker State Chevrolet to a 4.295-second victory over runner-up Denny Hamlin. Kyle Busch finished third, with Greg Biffle fourth and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards completed the top-nine drivers who finished all the laps. Matt Kenseth finished 10th, running one lap down.
With 264 points, Allmendinger is 24th in the Sprint Cup point standings. He is 108 behind 10th-place Edwards and 66 points behind 15th-place Kahne. He trails 20th-place Marcos Ambrose by 23 points.
Teammate Keselowski is currently 11th in the standings with 368 points.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Dover International Speedway, the “Monster Mile,” for next Sunday’s running of the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks.
This weekend’s Dover International Speedway action gets under way on Friday with practice set from 11:00 a.m. till 12:25 p.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 2:45 p.m. till 4:15 p.m. Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Saturday at 12:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & MRN Radio). Sunday’s 400 lap/400 mile battle is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 1:00 p.m. EDT. Race No. 13 of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by FOX-TV and MRN Radio.