2012 24 Hours of Daytona winner A.J. Allmendinger with Michael Shank Racing - Photo source: Flickr Creative Commons (Photo Ecology)

A.J. Allmendinger: NASCAR, IndyCar or...

The motorsports season is revving up and most drivers by now know who they’ll be driving for.  A.J. Allmendinger has already run in a Grand Am event and has the inside track to more time in that series.  To add to that, A.J. also has part-time employment in NASCAR Sprint Cup and now he’ll be testing in an IndyCar next week.  Potentially a diverse and busy year is on tap but where will Allmendinger eventually end up?

Promising 2012

2012 was an emotional roller-coaster for A.J. Allmendinger to say the least.  The Californian started last season by winning the 24 Hours of Daytona Grand Am race, driving for his business partner Michael Shank.  Things looked promising for Allmendinger to say the least as he proceeded to his new dream job with Penske Racing in NASCAR Sprint Cup.  It figured to be a year of growing into the new situation with the #22 Dodge team.  He was able to earn a runner-up spot at Martinsville, a pole at Kansas and then two back-to-back Top 10s at Sonoma and Kentucky, all of which offered glimpses into the maturing potential of Allmendinger.

Ah, but Kentucky would also be his last race for awhile.  A drug test revealed an illegal substance and long story short, A.J. had lost his dream job when NASCAR suspended him; plus, his car owner Roger Penske subsequently fired Allmendinger.  At the time, his teammate Brad Keselowski, who would ultimately win the 2012 Cup championship, said it best: “Just man up and drive the damn racecar.”  Eventually, A.J. admitted to his faults, went through a drug treatment program and was reinstated by NASCAR, where he would drive a handful of Cup races at season’s end for Phoenix Racing.

Nov 4, 2012; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger (51) before the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2013 is open-ended

So that brings us to this year.  As stated at the beginning, Allmendinger raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona for Michael Shank Racing, earning a podium finish.  He’s set to run a handful of 2013 races for Phoenix Racing’s Cup car (source: Fox Sports) with potential for more, especially if A.J. can find some sponsorship.  Also, Allmendinger is set to test at Sebring next week in a third Penske-prepared IndyCar, which could end up being a part-time ride and include the Indy 500.  A.J. is partners with Shank on a dormant IndyCar team as well and that could end up being another shot at the Indy 500.

Although the test session with Penske and the possibilities of running an IndyCar and maybe the Indy 500 are promising scenarios, A.J. Allmendinger’s heart is still in NASCAR.   He described his situation and desires last month, “We are working hard to getting that car on the race track [Shank’s IndyCar], and I am open to any offer, including the Indy 500, but my real love is the Sprint Cup circuit.”  (Source: Motorsport.com)

Most likely

This appears to be a turning point in Allmendinger’s career and this season may see a little of everything as far as racing in concerned.  However, unless sponsorship comes into play in IndyCar, don’t be surprised if Allmendinger ends up back in a Cup car on a permanent basis.

Tags: A.J. Allmendinger Indy 500 Michael Shank NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Roger Penske

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