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A.J. Allmendinger Moves Over to Penske – Fan’s View
Penske Racing has filled the vacancy for their #22 Cup team with the addition of A.J. Allmendinger. Allmendinger had been given his release from Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) to "pursue other opportunities within the sport." (Source - Motorsports.com) And pursue he did.
Although he had come on strong towards the end of last season, Allmendinger did not have a definite ride heading into 2012. Best Buy moved there funding over to another Ford team, Roush-Fenway Racing's #17 car of Matt Kenseth. But RPM has stated that they intend to run the #43 car - but they'll not do it with Allmendinger.
The native Californian had a mercurial rise in ChampCar, winning five races in '06 but he looked at stock cars to fulfill his dreams with a Cup ride for Red Bull (source - USA Today). However, he never caught fire at Red Bull and ended up driving for RPM before leaving to wheel the ride vacated by Kurt Busch's departure.
Six crew chiefs in less than five full seasons don't exactly give a driver a chance at consistency. Yet if you strictly look at Allmendinger's short career in NASCAR Sprint Cup, he has improved every year. Although his finishes weren't great at the end of '11, they don't reflect his consistent flashes to the front. But this move might have more advantages than at first blush.
There's always that open wheel connection … you know, Penske and IndyCar or more specifically the Indy 500. Remember, Allmendinger came from American open wheel (ChampCar).
Working for legends
Driving for one legend in Richard Petty and the #43 car was heady stuff but now his new job with Roger Penske, certainly another legend, offers Allmendinger a better chance at winning with arguably better equipment.
Certainly Allmendinger is impressed with his new environment when he said: "Walking through the shop, just the way everything is laid out and presented is absolutely amazing and something I'd never seen before. I just came to the shop for the first time and, first things first, is not to get lost in the shop. … I'm going to need a map to figure out even where to pull into the place.'' (Source - Fox Sports)
Todd Gordon will be Allmendinger's crew chief. Gordon was moved up from Nationwide where he won six races with Brad Keselowski who will be Allmendinger's teammate.
Surely the 30 year old A.J. Allmendinger's situation looks better than it did after RPM lost their sponsor. The one-time open wheel star now has a real chance to shine in the stock car world.
Sources - NASCAR, Racing Reference, Fox Sports
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus blogged about every type of racing for several years.
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