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SONOMA -- When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads west to Infineon Raceway this weekend, it will be a coming home opportunity in more way than one for Ford driver AJ Allmendinger. A native of Los Gatos, California, Allmendinger not only returns to his home state, but returns to his racing roots at the first road course test of the season. Allmendinger took time with Ford Racing to discuss going home, road courses and how special it would be to get into Victory Lane at Sonoma.
Q. DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO HEADING BACK TO CALIFORNIA AND GETTING ON A ROAD COURSE THIS WEEKEND?
A. I do look forward to it, for a lot of reasons. It is basically my home race and it will be Father’s Day, so my dad and family and friends will be there. I really enjoy that aspect. It is a road course and that is where I came from, so naturally I get excited about that. Last year was really the first year that I had a good car there and we ran really well. I am looking forward to going back there with great race cars now and really competing. Sonoma is a great race track with great surroundings and it is a fun race weekend altogether.
Q. YOU COME FROM AN OPEN-WHEEL BACKGROUND, BUT IS IT TOUGH TO HAVE THE ROAD COURSE RACE WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE TWO A YEAR?
A. As drivers this is what we have been taught to do. You have to go out there and be diverse in what you do. It was no different when I raced CHAMP car. You would show up at a street course one weekend, you would be at an airport runway one weekend or the Milwaukee oval. As race car drivers we like to be challenged. We like to go out there and show that we are good at all aspects of driving. NASCAR is no different because you show up at a half-mile, a two-and-a-half mile, a road course. It is not change for me, it is just something that I get really excited about.
Q. YOU ARE STILL SEARCHING FOR YOUR FIRST CUP WIN, HOW SPECIAL WOULD IT BE TO HAVE IT COME AT HOME ON FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND?
A. I have thought about it. It would be really exciting. If it can’t be us this weekend, or another Ford this weekend, then I would love to do it. I have thought a lot about that actually. It is a fun weekend, but it is a tough weekend. With having your family and friends there and things you have to do, it does distract you a little bit. You have to play that game of when it is time to hang out and be the friend and get away from racing, and then you have to also get back and get focused. To win there would be extra special, especially since it would be my first Cup win. It would be a really big deal.
Q. DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE A ROAD COURSE ADDED TO THE CHASE TO MAKE IT A MORE DIVERSE REPRESENTATION?
A. It would be cool to add a road course to the Chase, but I don’t really see it happening. Sonoma has a good date with good weather there. Watkins Glen, you can’t put in the Chase because it would be raining there. Unless they were to add another road course it would be tough. I don’t think that the Chase is anything less without it. I guess it would be pretty cool to have that element in the Chase, but I don’t think it lessens the Chase without a road course.