Unsatisfied: Owner Brad Daugherty wants more from team
When AJ Allmendinger won a race and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup last year in his first full season with JTG Daugherty Racing, team co-owner Brad Daugherty was happy to have a driver reach Victory Lane and NASCAR’s playoff for the first time in the organization’s history.
Of course, happiness is one thing. Satisfaction is another.
It seems that Daugherty — a former standout center for college basketball’s North Carolina Tarheels and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers — actually harbored even higher expectations for Allmendinger and the single-car organization.
"I expected us to run better than we did last year, to be honest with you — but I expected that the year before," Daugherty said on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "So for me going into this season, I think it raised the confidence of my team, which is important, because guys worked their rear ends off. We know going out that door we’ve got everything we need to go and be competitive, so the vibe in my race shop is much different than it’s been — even last year.
"It was excitement last year, but this year there’s confidence and there’s the fact of these guys know they’re bolting together a race car that can go be competitive and on any given day and weekend we can ring the bell."
While Allmendinger’s Chase-clinching win on the road course at Watkins Glen last August was certainly a noteworthy accomplishment, the driver and his boss can’t ignore that their No. 47 Chevrolet recorded only five top-10 finishes — just two of them top fives — during the 36-race season.
Understandably, Allmendinger is quick to point out that there were many races when his car simply lacked the speed to contend for wins or even run in the top 20.
And that’s what his team, which will be led this season by returning crew chief Brian Burns, wants to fix in 2015.
"If you look at our average finishes, we were a 20th-place, 22nd-place race team," said Allmendinger, who finished 13th in points after being eliminated in the opening Chase round. "So that’s where we’ve got to get better. That’s what I look at. Of course we want to go out there and win, and if you win you’re going to be in the Chase again and have a great shot to finish top 15 in points, but I want to be a top-15 team every weekend.
"A consistent top 15 — make a 15th-place finish our norm, make a top 10 a good day, and once you start getting in the top 10, you’re going to have a shot to win races, so that’s what we have to do."
"Acceptable for us is to win two races and finish inside of the top 15 (in points)," Daugherty said. "You look at the multi-car teams you’re racing, it’s so difficult to finish inside that top 10. The Hendrick and (Joe Gibbs Racing) and people like that, those teams should eat up a lot of those spaces but for us to be inside that top 15 and to win a couple races, I think we should win outside of a road course. I think we’re capable. So if we do that, I’ll be really, really tickled."
Daugherty believes that no one at the organization is content to rest on last year’s laurels.
"There’s no way we’re complacent," he said. "We did a lot for a single-car team, but we haven’t accomplished what we need to accomplish. Winning a race is great but, honestly, it’s winning one race. I’m not hanging my hat on that. We want to win a bunch of races.
"It was great. I don’t want to diminish the hard work and effort that went into it from a smaller team, but I was disappointed winning one race. I want to win a couple races each year and really make some noise."