Allmendinger to drive 3rd Penske IndyCar in 2013 UPDATE AJ Allmendinger was at Penske Racing on Thursday having a seat fit in an IndyCar. "Roger is one of the most loyal owners you will ever know, and I think his loyalty has come into play in this case," Penske President Tim Cindric told AP News. "AJ is obviously talented and when you look at the circumstances and how he handled the circumstances, well, he made a mistake. But he's a talented guy and someone who has shown what he can do in an IndyCar. We are in the racing business, and AJ has gone through the process required for him and as far as we are concerned the slate is wiped clean."
"When we look at the drivers out there, we've been looking at AJ and asked, 'Is he someone who wants to do this longer-term if there was a possibility with us?'" Cindric said. "For him to be a candidate to run at Indy, it would have to be something he'd be interested in doing beyond Indy. He's consistently told us, 'Whatever is the best ride for me, I just want the best opportunity as a driver.' He's convinced us that should we want him to drive beyond Indy, we would be his first priority."
02/07/13 AJ Allmendinger’s career is coming full circle – albeit making left and right turns.
|Before moving to NASCAR and ruining his career where he won nothing, Allmendinger was developing into an IndyCar star|
Allmendinger, 31, will test an IndyCar for Penske Racing at Sebring International Raceway on Feb. 18 and 19. If the test is successful, Allmendinger will make his open-wheel debut for Penske Racing at Barber Motorsports Park on April 7.
Sources told FOXSports.com that if everything goes according to plan and sponsorship can be acquired, Allmendinger will also run at Long Beach in preparation for the Indianapolis 500 and has been added to our 2013 IndyCar Silly Season Page.
“The first test is just to see how things go at Sebring,” Allmendinger said late Wednesday by phone. “It’s been seven years since I’ve been in one of those cars – and they’ve changed quite a bit. I know it won’t be easy. But I know I’ll be in the best possible equipment and I’ll have Will Power there – one of the fastest guys in the sport – to help me get up to speed. I’m really looking forward to it. At least Sebring is a track I know.
“There are so many great things about getting back in a car for Roger. I can’t begin to explain what it means that he believes in me enough to give me another chance. There’s no pressure with this test, but I’ll put the pressure on myself.”
Before Allmendinger’s arrival with Red Bull in NASCAR at the end of the 2006 season, he was on the fast track in open wheel. After four races into what would be his final season in Champ Car, Allmendinger was recruited by Gerry Forsythe. He won the first three races with the team and two of the final six events to finish second in the point standings to Sebastian Bourdais.
Allmendinger has never equaled his open-wheel success in stock cars. His only win since leaving Champ Car came in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. In his defense, until he joined Penske Racing in 2012, the equipment was just mediocre. Allmendinger posted five top-five finishes in 173 starts. His best finish was second at Martinsville Speedway last spring.
Phoenix Racing’s James Finch was the first team owner to offer Allmendinger a Cup ride once he was cleared by NASCAR to drive. He competed in four of the final six races in the No. 51 Chevrolet and is expected to continue his run for Finch this season. On Jan. 27, Allmendinger finished third in the Rolex 24.
Still, Allmendinger’s opportunity to repay Penske for his vote of confidence fuels the driver.
“When you first walk into Penske Racing and see the Borg-Warner trophies and the helmets of all the Indy 500s he won, that’s what it’s all about,” Allmendinger said. “It would be a dream come true to run the Indy 500 with Roger Penske, but it all starts with Sebring – and that’s my focus.
“But just getting back in a Roger Penske car after everything that happened means the world to me. I’ll cherish it even more that it’s a Penske car. The fact that Roger believes in me just means the world to me. That he put his faith back in me is amazing.” Fox Sports