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Regan Smith and AJ Allmendinger likely to split full season for Phoenix Racing

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The Phoenix Racing No. 51 (Getty)

Regan Smith will drive Phoenix Racing’s No. 51 for the Daytona 500 and will likely split the ride with AJ Allmendinger in 2013 according to Phoenix general manager Steve Barkdoll.

Both Smith and Allmendinger drove for the team at the end of 2012 after Kurt Busch left to start his sting with Furniture Row Racing before the end of the season. Smith was scheduled to finish out the season, but was called up to drive at Charlotte and Kansas for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Allmendinger was called in as his replacement and drove four races for the team while Smith drove two.

From the Sporting News:

“It will be more than likely AJ at Phoenix and the next handful of races,” Barkdoll said. “Regan, with his concentration on the Nationwide deal, he’s going to pick and choose the ones that he wants. … I talked to AJ yesterday and he doesn’t have anything going right now and he did us a really good job.

Allmendinger had said the same publicly over the weekend at the Roar Before the 24 Grand-Am test. It’s a great opportunity for the driver who was suspended before the July Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona after testing positive for amphetamine.

Smith is running full-time in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports and will be unable to accumulate driver points in the Sprint Cup Series (though the team will still get owner’s points). Smith is the driver that Busch replaced at Furniture Row after last fall’s Talladega race.

The team is also looking to keep its association with Busch and wants to compete in the three Nationwide Series restrictor plate races with him, Barkdoll said. Busch won the July Daytona Nationwide Series race driving for Phoenix.

The team finished 27th in the owner’s standings in 2012. It’s highest finish came at Sonoma with Busch behind the wheel. He finished third.

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