(WOMR file photo)
A little more than a year ago, A.J. Allmendinger’s world began to unravel when he failed a NASCAR random drug test , and as a result he was ultimately fired from Penske Racing. Dinger, who was on the way up in his NASCAR racing career, was driving for his dream car owner, Roger Penske. On the outside life seemed to be great for Allmendinger. But that changed in July at Daytona when the news broke that he had failed a NASCAR drug test.
For the next few weeks Allmemdinger went through the prescribed NASCAR recovery steps to be readmitted back into NASCAR at a later date. Once readmitted back into NASCAR Allmendinger was hired by James Finch to drive his #51 Phoenix Racing Chevy in the Sprint Cup Series.
During the offseason it was noted that Roger Penske put together a sponsorship package to allow “The Dinger” to drive a few races for one of his Indy Car race teams. As the 2013 Sprint Cup opened up, A.J. was the driver for the Phoenix Racing #51 Chevy, on a part-time basis, and raced that car well.
As the month of May rolled around, the buzz was on A.J. Allmendiger, and his IndyCar ride with Penske Racing Additionally, the news leaked out that, even though Penske replaced A.J. as the driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, Penske never took Allmendinger from the payroll of Penske Racing.
Ultimately, “The Dinger” qualified 5th, lead quite a few laps before his seat belts came loose, and then finished 7th in the Indy 500.
This summer Allmendinger rises above the burning ashes of July 2013
In his two Nationwide races in the Penske #22 Discount Ford (Keselowski’s normal Nationwide ride), both being road courses, A.J. Allmendinger is two for two! That’s right he has two NNS victories in two attempts. The Dinger wins at both Road America and then last Saturday at Mid-Ohio in the Children’s Hospital 200! Not a bad record, wold you say?
A.J. Allmendinger spent most of Saturday afternoon in front, then held on for extra laps to earn his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
He had a comfortable lead over pole winner Michael McDowell but had to sweat out a green-white-checkered finish after Kenny Habul triggered a course-wide caution on the penultimate lap. It was no problem, as Allmendinger sprinted away on a lap 93 restart and stayed in front for the final two laps.
McDowell was second and Sam Hornish Jr. assumed the series points lead after finishing third. Max Papis and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five.
Allmendinger lost the lead after a lap 58 pit stop and took it back five laps later. He kept his #22 Ford Mustang in front of the pack after a lap 67 restart and cruised to his second NASCAR Nationwide road-course win in as many tries this season.
Allmendinger started second and needed just eight laps to take the lead after the green flag. He led 27 straight laps midway through the race and was in front for the final 29. He also won the June 22 Johnsonville Sausage 200 Presented by Menards at Road America — his only other NASCAR Nationwide start this season.
He led 73 of the race’s 94 laps. This was nothing short of pure domination!
With these two Nationwide victories, I would assume that Allmendinger’s stock has risen significantly, as a free agent in NASCAR, since those dark days of July 2012!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!