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Allmendinger nervous about failing
AJ Allmendinger talks with Castroneves
AJ Allmendinger dropped a word on Helio Castroneves today at Barber Motorsports Park that stumped the Brazilian with broken English.

“Queasy?” Castroneves asked his new Team Penske teammate, not understanding what Allmendinger meant.

That and then some, Allmendinger offered back.

“I wanted to throw up before (today’s first IndyCar practice) session,” Allmendinger said. “I’m nervous. ... I don’t want to waste Roger (Penske’s) time.”

Allmendinger is at IndyCar’s first road course race of the season with the opportunity he never expected to have. Nine months ago he was banned from NASCAR for violating stock car racing’s substance abuse policy. He subsequently was released from Penske Racing’s Sprint Cup Series team.

Allmendinger’s road to redemption started after an admission that he took Adderall, a stimulant that includes amphetamines. By fulfilling a commitment to change his life, he’s experiencing the second chance of a lifetime: Driving Indy cars for Penske on weekends when he’s not piloting Phoenix Racing’s Cup car.

Allmendinger tested alongside Castroneves and Will Power here last month, but this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is the real deal, his first open-wheel race since he won five races in Champ Car’s 2006 season. He did not take part in IndyCar’s season-opener last month.

So far, so good. Allmendinger was ninth in today’s first practice, eighth in the second. Qualifying is Saturday morning. The race is on Sunday.

Allmendinger’s goal is to manage expectations. NASCAR friends have already suggested he should be in IndyCar’s top five. Whoa on that, he stressed. Getting comfortable with a race weekend must happen first.

“After seven years I was kind of hoping it was like coming back and riding a bike, but to get on it and do it again, it kind of felt like a unicycle,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing out there.

“It’s not like (before) when it came naturally. It’s a lot of work.” 

Team Penske’s plan is to have Allmendinger compete in the April 21 race in Long Beach, Calif., and then prepare for the month of May in Indianapolis, where his first Indianapolis 500 awaits.

Before all of that is next week’s IndyCar Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Castroneves will be there to assist.

“He can jump in every type of car and do well,” Castroneves said. “It just shows he’s here for a reason.” Indy Star

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