Allmendinger looking forward to IndyCar debut at Barber
Allmendinger testing at Barber last month
A.J. Allmendinger will compete in an open- wheel race for the first time in seven years this weekend when the IZOD IndyCar Series runs at Barber Motorsports Park.
Allmendinger is scheduled to drive the No. 2 car for Team Penske in at least two IndyCar races this season -- Barber and the May 26 Indianapolis 500. He has tested an Indy car three times in the past seven weeks, including practice last week at Texas Motor Speedway to better prepare for racing on an oval.
After a three-year career in the Champ Car World Series, Allmendinger switched to NASCAR in 2007. He drove for team owner Roger Penske in the Sprint Cup Series last year but lost his ride with the team after the first 17 races of the season when he was suspended for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy. He is running a limited Sprint Cup schedule for Phoenix Racing this year.
"I look at more than anything the fact that Roger Penske himself made the phone call and wanted me back in one of his race cars, and whether it's an Indy car or a stock car or sports car or whatever; to me, just that phone call itself means more than getting in the race car," Allmendinger said. "I'm excited, and I'm ready to go."
Allmendinger participated in a two-day IndyCar test session at Barber last month.
"I have to really work on learning how to get around this racetrack," he said. "There are certain sections that I feel comfortable in, and there are some other ones that I'm not. It's going to take some getting used to. Good thing about having Will Power and Helio Castroneves as teammates is that they are usually the two fastest guys here."
Allmendinger won five races and made 14 podium appearances in Champ Car from 2004-06. He also won the Barber Dodge Pro Series title in 2002 and captured the Toyota Atlantic Series championship the following year.
"The small amount that I've worked with (Allmendinger), he's a great guy, great personality," Power said. "I think he's an asset to the team, and so far, he's doing two races. I hope he does more. He's good, and I enjoy working with him."
Penske is 3-0 in both pole and race wins at Barber. Castroneves won the inaugural race at this track in 2010, while Power has claimed victories in the past two events here. Power led all 90 laps in the 2011 race.
Twenty-six teams are on the entry list for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The Province
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