Less than 24 hours after a last-lap crash with Kasey Kahne at Pocono Raceway, AJ Allmendinger said the incident did little to damage what was already a shaky relationship between the two Richard Petty Motorsports teammates.
Forced into the grass when Allmendinger blocked a final-lap move on the Long Pond straightaway, Kahne’s Budweiser Ford careened into traffic and ignited a multi-car crash that eventually involved the cars of Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Marcos Ambrose, Elliott Sadler and others.
“I came off Turn One and got under (Sam) Hornish, and Kasey had a run,” explained Allmendinger. “I didn’t think he was as quick as he was, and when I moved over to defend, he was in the grass. I’m sorry for the race teams that got involved in it. It’s not something that I wanted to be a part of. We raced clean all day and I was `give and take’ all day. But (at that point), it was time to go. I’ve been moved over more often than not on these green-white-checker finishes, and I wasn’t taking it anymore.”
“It looked worse because it’s my teammate,” said Allmendinger. “But I would have done the same thing, no matter who it was. I was trying to defend my spot and I misjudged it.”
“I don’t know what AJ was doing there,” said Kahne after the crash. “I don’t ever really talk to him much, and I doubt I will be talking to him this week.”
Allmendinger confirmed that he and Kahne are not close, saying, “Kasey has no (desire) to talk to me usually, and I’m cool with that. Our race teams work well enough. I’ve got six or seven other (Ford) guys that I can go talk to and ask questions. So it’s fine.”
Asked what has strained their relationship, Allmendinger said, “I’m a hard racer (and) sometimes I race too hard with people I’m not supposed to race hard with. (Kasey) has accused me of racing him too hard at times, and that’s fine. We both have our own opinions. I’m fighting for every inch, and if he doesn’t like me at times, I understand that.”
Allmendinger said he met with RPM officials after the race to discuss the crash, and expected the criticism he received. “The team... wanted to make sure I know that we should race our teammates a little different,” he said. “That’s fine, I understand that (and) I agree 100 percent. I `fessed up (after the race) and said I misjudged it. It wasn’t something that would have been different if there was somebody else behind me.
“We had our talk about it, I’m cool with it, and now we’ll move on.”
Allmendinger said he will try to be the best teammate he can to Kahne and his fellow Ford drivers, but has no plans to change his hard-driving style. He also said he does not expect his relationship with Kahne to improve.
“I respect (Kasey) 100-percent on the race track,” he said. “I think that he’s one of the best guys out there. As a teammate, I love going up against him because I know if I can run with him, I’m doing something great. I don’t go out of my way to avoid (talking to) him, and we do talk every now and then at the race track about the race cars.
“But are we holding hands, skipping along and having ice cream together? No.”