Roger Penske has made it clear that he plans to decide A.J. Allmendinger's future with the team soon. Penske has announced that he will meet with the driver and determine the next steps. Allmendinger has entered NASCAR's Road to Recovery Program, but he is still suspended indefinitely. His contract with the team was only for one year, and Penske's comments indicate that there is a great interest in the No. 22 car from other drivers. I think Penske Racing has already started to shop for other options.
Roger Penske Admits to Getting Calls
A.J. Allmendinger's contract with Penske Racing has terms for one year. Despite his decision to enter NASCAR's Road to Recovery Program, the team can still release him. In addition, on July 29, Roger Penske clarified that A.J. Allmendinger is an "independent contractor." Penske has admitted that there has been a strong interest in the No. 22 ride and stated "our phone is ringing off the hook with people who are interested."
What This Means for A.J. Allmendinger
Roger Penske was deliberately evasive during his interviews on July 29 with the media because he still plans on meeting with A.J. Allmendinger before making a final decision about his future. However, I think his comments reveal that he feels the team needs a permanent solution and cannot wait for Allmendinger to finish NASCAR's Road to Recovery Program. Penske also mentioned the sponsors, so I believe they will play a role in the final decision.
Unfortunately, NASCAR's Road to Recovery Program does not have a predetermined length. The organization has mentioned that the program is customized to meet each driver's needs while fulfilling regulations. Previous rumors have indicated that it could last a year or longer, and a successful finish is not a guarantee that Penske Racing will take A.J. Allmendinger back.
Sam Hornish Jr. continues to be cited as the most likely replacement candidate for A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 22 car. However, Roger Penske has not confirmed that he will permanently take over the ride. Additionally, Penske Racing was interested in having a third car in the Sprint Cup and has also not released a list of potential drivers for the new ride.
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Growing up in Indiana, Lana developed a love for motorsports at an early age. She follows NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.