Nearly a year ago the racing future of A.J. Allmendinger was in doubt. On Sunday the 32-year-old driver finished seventh at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Allmendinger lost his ride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Penske Racing after testing positive for a banned substance. Later the driver would admit poor judgement and was cleared to resume racing after compeleting NASCAR’s Road to Recovery. Allmendinger would get some seat time for Phoenix Racing and rumors began to circulate that Roger Penske wanted him to compete in one of his IndyCars.
Penske worked out a deal placing Allmendinger in a car for the Indianapolis 500. It would not be the first race for Allmendinger as he transitioned to part-time IndyCar racer – he had finished 19th and 23rd in two races earlier this season for Penske. It was however a chance to be seen on the big stage for American fans who tune in for the annual race at the Brickyard.
A rookie at Indy, Allmendinger had raced at the track before. Just his previous runs had come in a stock car.
Allmendinger qualified fifth for the Indy 500 but faded though the pack early with gear issues. A caution allowed Allmendinger and his to reset and the driver moved back into the top-ten. Before the halfway point Allmendinger had worked his way up and claimed the lead.
On lap 112 Allmendinger pitted from the lead after somehow undoing his belts. He would lose a lap. Allmendinger would get back on the lead lap as others pitted some ten laps later and even reclaim the top spot. Allmendinger would jostle with Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay for the lead in between pitstops. His final pitstop came more then ten laps before the other leaders.
Allmendinger got a break with a late lap caution but never got a chance to capitalize on it as Dario Franchitti found the wall ending the race. Allmendinger would finish seventh.
In addition to running races for Penske Racing in the IndyCar Series, Allmendinger has run four races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His best finish was an 11th place run at Phoenix.