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Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series: Rolex 24 at Daytona

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  Rolex 24 at Daytona

Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series: Rolex 24 at Daytona

A.J. Allmendinger
Justin Wilson
January 27, 2013


HERB BRANHAM: All right, questions for last year's champions, this year's third place team.

Q. AJ, can you described what happened on that restart when you got shoved into the grass?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Right there, that was a pretty good description. No, obviously we knew Juan was going to be tough to beat, so I think he probably took it just a little easy on the restart. I got around him on the outside in 1, and at that point I knew I had to go. That was my only chance.
I got to the outside of the 9 car there, and I thought we were wheel to wheel and side by side, and he just used me up. That was disappointing. We weren't going to beat the 01 car, so I thought we had a chance to compete for second. Fortunately he got a penalty for that so we could get the podium because it filled the whole radiator up with dirt so we had to pit. Just one of those racing things, with that point with an hour to go, it's go time. No hard feelings there, it was a fun battle.

Q. Considering that you twice had to come back from seven laps down, do you guys consider third place‑‑ is it any sort of at least moral victory?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I think so. We were saying that on the way over, John and I, how if you'd have told us after the first hour we could have a chance of finishing third, we would have been over the moon. You know, we managed to do that.
As we were on the podium, we were thinking, well, there's nothing quite like being first, but we just have to be grateful for the chance we had, and got to thank Michael Shank Racing and Ford and everybody on the team for doing a great job and giving us an opportunity.

Q. Does Michael see anything moral about the third‑place finish?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, I think he does. If you ask him‑‑ I think more than anything it's the effort from this race team, and it's that, heck, Ozz has been here for, what, 10 years now, nine years, I've been here seven years, and it's a small group of guys that Mike takes really good care of, and he just‑‑ it's that attitude, they never give up. And from the first moment they weren't going to give up, so I felt like especially for Ozz and John, it's good points to start the season for the championship, and it was a hard‑fought battle.
JOHN PEW: Yeah, it's great. I've known these guys for six, seven years, and it doesn't surprise me the effort and dedication, and that's why I love them. These guys, too, that come in to drive the 24 with us, it's my second year with them, and it's like we're a family. It's great. It's no egos involved, we all work for the team and work for each other. It's great to have Marcos here, as well. He's not here right now, but it was like he's been part of the family for years.

Q. AJ, the fact that you were able to hold Juan off for four laps after the restart with 70 minutes to go, did that give you any hope, or did you think that was just inevitable that he was going to get by?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, I knew he was going to get by, I was just going to make him work for it. I wasn't going to make it easy on him. Juan and I have a lot of respect for each other‑‑ a little bit of respect. I hate his face (Laughter.)
No, they had the cars to beat, for sure. They did their homework, and it's no secret that with the way testing works, everybody is kind of hiding some stuff and trying to keep it in reserve for the race, and last year we were able to capitalize on that, and we got our turn and won the race.
You know, it was their turn. They did their homework and they played the game the best. When it's your year, you've got to capitalize on it. We did that last year, they did that this year.

Q. AJ, after all those hours it came down to a couple of you NASCAR guys kind of going at it, and you're used to racing. If you could just speak about that.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, it's‑‑ for me, I'm not going to blow his head up too much because you can see it's already pretty big, with the rest of them. He's not even paying attention.
Point being, Juan is‑‑ obviously his background in racing in general, it's fun to compete against him. I don't look at it just NASCAR and NASCAR. Obviously we both have diverse backgrounds, so it's just fun to compete with somebody like that for the win. I knew it was going to be tough and it was probably going to be a prayer to have a chance to beat him. But from where we started, as Justin said, 30 minutes into the race, and I was going through the infield grass knocking down signs because the tie rod broke, to leading the restart with an hour to go was something that we wouldn't have imagined.
HERB BRANHAM: Guys, thanks so much for coming in.

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