Roger Penske said he would never give up on his driver, and now his words are being fulfilled.
Penske Racing announced that they have signed A.J Allmendinger to drive in their IZOD IndyCar Series program in 2013.
Allmendinger, who has experience open wheel racing, as he drove up through the ranks once before, before transitioning to NASCAR, will race in at least two IndyCar races this season. He is scheduled to drive the No.2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet at this year’s Indianapolis 500, scheduled for May 26. Allmendinger will also compete in the April 7 race at the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Ala.
2013 SEASON: Allmendinger returns to Cup racing
“It is exciting to welcome AJ back to Penske Racing,” said Roger Penske. “He obviously went through a tough time last year but he has done everything he needed to in order to get back to racing at the top level of the sport. We have always believed in AJ and his ability and he deserves this opportunity. We think he will be a strong competitor this season in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Team Penske and we look forward to racing with him in the IZOD car at Barber and at the Indianapolis 500.”
Allmendinger’s signing with Penske is a home coming for both the driver and the owner.
Allmendinger drove for Penske in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 17 races in 2012, but a mistake cost him everything that season. Allmendinger failed a NASCAR mandated random drug test, when the results came in Allmendinger was immediately replaced in the car for the July Daytona race. NASCAR suspended Allmendinger for his failed drug test. With a second positive test (same sample of urine), Allmendinger found himself out of the No.22 Pennzoil Dodge as Penske announced they had let Allmendinger go.
Allmendinger was determined and followed NASCAR’s mandates in order to come back to the sport. He completed NASCAR’s “Road to Recovery” and was back in a race car towards the end of the 2012 season, driving the No.51 Chevrolet for James Finch in four races.
NEVER GIVE UP: Allmendinger to test INDYCAR
Allmendinger raced in the Champ Car World Series from 2004-2006 where he earned five wins, two poles and 14 podium finishes over a three-year period. When he left the series to join NASCAR he left as one of the hottest drivers in Champ car.
In 2006, during his last season racing open-wheel cars, Allmendinger earned five wins – including an impressive stretch of three in a row – and seven podium results on his way to finishing third in the series championship.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to my roots and racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series,” said Allmendinger, who tested the No. 2 IndyCar for Team Penske at Sebring International Raceway on Feb. 19. “I have to thank Roger (Penske), Tim (Cindric) and everyone at Team Penske for this opportunity. I think it’s every driver’s dream to race for Team Penske at the Indy 500 and that experience is going to be incredible. I also have to thank IZOD for their support and for giving me a chance to show what I can do. I definitely intend to make the most of it.”
Allmendinger was one of the best drivers in recent history. He won the Barber Dodge Pro Series title in 2002 and the Toyota Atlantic Series championship in 2003. He went on to earn Rookie of the Year honors in the Champ Car World Series in 2004.
Allmendinger’s next Cup Series race will be at Bristol where he will be back in the No.51 Guy Roofing Chevrolet.