Johnson predicts tough road back for Allmendinger
Less than a week after A.J. Allmendinger was released from his Penske Racing contract, the former Penske Racing driver was still a topic of discussion at this week's series stop.
|His career possibly ruined, Allmendinger will likely drive in Grand-Am when he returns|
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon talked about Allmendinger and his chances of returning to the Cup Series during a break in practice at Pocono Raceway on Friday. It could be a difficult road back, especially if Allmendinger hopes come to back with a top team, according to five-time series champion Johnson.
“Yeah, it's going to be tough,” Johnson said. “There's no doubt about it. We don't have anyone else to really base it off of coming back into the sport to get a feel as to the corporate involvement, team owner's response, and how that's going to go for him. But in the car, he was developing at a great pace and showing plenty of speed and was very competitive. So, time will tell.
“I think people like a comeback story, and if A.J. is committed to the process and getting back, I'm sure there will be some opportunities. I don't think it's going to be the one that he wants to start, but over time, I would assume he could get back to a good spot. Everybody makes mistakes. We learn and grow from it and move on. People are usually, or mostly, responsive to that.”
Gordon said that he would have no problems welcoming Allmendinger back into the series after he completes the NASCAR-mandated recovery program.
“A.J. is a friend of mine,” Gordon said. “I've always been a fan of his ever since his open-wheel runs in the CART Series. You hate to see it because it was a great opportunity for him to be at Penske in that car. It's disappointing to see. I'm as anxious as anybody else to know all the details as to what happened, what went wrong.
“He's a fighter. I don't see him just turning away. I see him doing what he can to come back.
Tony Stewart said that he's not sure how the Allmendinger story will play out in the long term.
“I honestly don't know because it's not a position that we've really had to deal with much in this series," Stewart said. "He's a talented driver. He's a good guy and he deserves to be in this series. So, whatever he has to do to make those steps happen, he's got the talent and the skill to do it and he deserves another chance.” AutoWeek