(WOMR file photo)
AJ Allmendinger’s racing career is coming full circle!
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. If everything goes according to plan and sponsorship can be acquired, Allmendinger will also run at Long Beach, in preparation for the Indianapolis 500.
The following is a phone interview that FOX Sports conducted with “The Dinger”.
“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.”
It is a huge understatement that Allmendinger has learned to cope with pressure over the past year. After working his way into the ride of a lifetime with Penske Racing’s Sprint Cup team, Allmendinger failed a drug test administered at Kentucky Speedway on June 29, and consequently, was suspended from competition at Daytona International Speedway on July 7.
Upon completing NASCAR’s Road to Recovery, Allmendinger was reinstated Sept. 18, but Penske Racing released him from the No. 22 team Aug. 1. Still, Penske never gave up on his driver.
Not only did Allmendinger remain on the payroll for the remainder of the year, but Penske also called him on a weekly basis. Does that tell you something about Penske as a car owner, an employer, and a friend?
Even though Penske was forced to remove “The Dinger” from the Sprint Cup ride, most likely from the pressure of the sponsors, it appears that “The Captain”, Roger Penske, sees something in A.J. that keeps his faith in Allmeddinger as a human and a race car driver! “The Dinger” looks like he is getting a second chance in racing, and with the best car owner in all of motorsports!
Good Luck, A.J., make this work for you!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!