Given an opportunity to drive at the Sprint Cup level was all AJ Allmendinger could ask for. Allmendinger was given that opportunity for Saturday nights race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Phoenix Racing No. 51 Chevrolet.
Allmendinger’s chance came together rather quickly. Regan Smith had been scheduled to drive the car but when Dale Earnhardt Jr announced that he would miss the Charlotte and Kansas events a change of plans was made.
Smith moved over to drive the No. 88 car at Hendrick Motorsports. Almost instantly Allmendinger was announced as the driver of the No. 51 car.
“I talked to Finch for about three minutes this morning,” Allmendinger said Thursday. “He started to tell me what the deal was and I was like, ‘Man, it’s all good. I’ll come drive this weekend, and if you like me, you like me. And if not, it’s OK.’ It’s all about taking it as it comes right now.”
The car which Allmendinger drove had a smiley face in addition to the usual red paint.
Allmendinger started near the back of the field but worked his way up to a respectable 24th place finish in his first race since Kentucky.