Penske last chance for Allmendinger
AJ Allmendinger has 152 career Sprint Cup starts with just four top-five and 26 top-10 finishes.
|Allmendinger went from being a winner to being a loser when he joined NASCAR. Can he prove his worth now?|
That might not seem like much in five years, but that virtually is Allmendinger’s entire experience in a stock car. He has 13 truck and eight Nationwide starts in his career, so in many ways the 30-year-old driver should just be finding his footing after making the switch from an open-wheel season where he won five Champ Car races to NASCAR.
Those victories in the open-wheel ranks, where Penske Racing is far more accomplished than in its stock-car endeavors, gave the Penske brass confidence that Allmendinger has the potential to be successful in Cup.
The time to show that potential is now as Allmendinger landed the team’s No. 22 ride that became available with the release of Kurt Busch.
“It's do or die,” Allmendinger said during a teleconference with reporters last week. “This is the next step to try to be one of those top Sprint Cup drivers, and that's what I want to do.
“I feel like this is going to be the best place to do it, and just the way this organization is laid out is absolutely amazing.”
Allmendinger spent his first two seasons at Red Bull Racing and then three at Richard Petty Motorsports. Red Bull was just starting when Allmendinger joined the organization, and he has spent the last few years working with an RPM organization in flux that included a merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and then it eventually was sold.
Without a sponsor for 2012, RPM released Allmendinger for the Penske ride.
“He's a proven winner – although not in the Cup Series,” Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said. “It takes a certain process, it takes a certain edge, it takes a certain level of confidence to have the accolades that he had all the way from the beginning of his open-wheel career through to the point where he went stock-car racing.”
Allmendinger will need the strength of the Penske organization to help him realize his potential. He will have a rookie crew chief in Todd Gordon, but the most of the crew will have Cup experience.
“The fortunate thing we have as an organization is the group that he's walking into and that he and Todd are going to work with have been within the organization five or six years together, the majority of them,” Cindric said. “So there's a very solid foundation there that's been here and that knows how we operate.” More at Scenedaily.com