Dinger unleashed: Change is scary

AJ Allmendinger

Every other Wednesday, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota, writes a column for Yahoo! Sports. He finished 11th at Watkins Glen and cracked the top 35 in owner's points for the first time.

It's not like I didn't think for the past month that this was coming. It's no surprise. I've dealt with this same situation before when I was in Champ Car, only then I wanted to leave that team. This time, I wanted to stay at Red Bull.

I think we could have worked out a one-year deal, but we mutually agreed that it probably wasn't the best thing for me. I would have been a lame-duck driver, where it would have been a weird situation and I would have been in the same situation next year.

Change is always scary to me. I don't know why. That initial change is always scary. But it always seems to work out for the best, and the way I look at it, why shouldn't it this time either?

The timing part of it sucks the most, because I think we have a good thing going with the whole 84 group.

You can sit there and look at it so many ways. I can think, well, Red Bull screwed me. But, you know what? They've been with me from the start. They gave me the chance. For five years they put up with me. So you can't be mad at the decision.

I had a lot of good things happen to me because of Red Bull. I'm where I'm at now because of Red Bull. Sure I'm disappointed, but I can also look at it and say if it weren't for some of the decisions they made, I wouldn't have anybody calling me looking for another ride.

There's no secret that I have talked to Chip Ganassi about driving the No. 41 car. I've actually talked to a few teams that are interested, including IndyCar teams. Personally, though, I want to stay in NASCAR. I've worked too hard to learn these cars.

The hardest thing I've ever had to do in my career, personally and mentally, is to fight and claw my way into this sport and to go through all that and say, 'You know what, I had two years. I'm going to leave.' I'm not ready to do that. I've got too much to accomplish.

Right now, I don't have anything signed and I don't have a contract in front of me.

I'm racing this weekend at Kansas, but I'm almost 100 percent sure I won't be with Red Bull after this race. That's tough, but I understand.

Hopefully I'll have something and I'll be in a car next week. Whether it's the team I'm going to be with for next year and we can start working on that or what, that's kind of where we stand.

I think the first two weeks of the Chase have been pretty sweet. I'm pretty psyched to see what happens. I still stand by my pick, Jimmie Johnson. I think he's going to do it. But Biffle, that's pretty badass jumping out of the gate like that and doing it when it counts.

I don't know what it looks like from the fans' point of view, but personally, being on the racetrack, I can see everyone has stepped up their game. Not just by the Chase drivers, but everyone. Everybody is fighting for something, whether it's to prove themselves for next year or to move into the top 35. Everybody turned it up a couple of notches, and it's been pretty fun racing.

As for this weekend, I'm treating it like it's my last race, because it might be. Like I told Michael McDowell before last week's race at Dover, get out the way, because I'm going to go out there, prove a point and finish as high as I can.