One year ago this weekend AJ Allmendinger lost his Sprint Cup Series ride with Penske Racing due to a failed drug test. Even so, 2013 has been a busy one behind the NASCAR and IndyCar wheel for Allmendinger.
AJ Allmendinger started five of the first seven IZOD IndyCar Series races this season for Team Penske but hasn't been in any of the last three events and will not race on Sunday at Pocono Raceway either. Lack of sponsorship and financial backing is the main reason behind the lack of races for Allmendinger.
IZOD sponsored Allmendinger at Barber and Indianapolis but Penske backed Allmendinger from within for the race at Long Beach and the Dual in Detroit races. After finishing 19th on the lead lap in his first ever IndyCar start at Barber and first open-wheel race since 2006 Allmendinger then had a gear box issue after 51 laps at Long Beach and finished 23rd. He then turned heads by running an impressive race as a rookie in the Indy 500 and finished eighth after leading 23 laps. Then the disaster of weekend in Detroit occurred when he crashed out of both dual races on lap 1.
Keeping Helio Castroneves in the championship points lead and getting Will Power's season back on track are Team Penske's main goals and stretching the resources to allow a third car for Allmendinger is something they are not wanting to do especially without sponsorship.
"We'd love to put him back in an Indy car," Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said. "Aside from IZOD coming on board to sponsor AJ at Barber and Indianapolis, it's really been something that we've supported financially. It's a difficult thing to continue without a sponsor to make happen. Would we like to keep going? Absolutely. Is it realistic without a sponsor? Probably not."
IZOD is believed to be back to sponsor Allmendinger for the season finale on October 19th at Auto Club Speedway but as for the other six race weekends and eight races between now and then we will have to wait and see if sponsorship materializes. By the sound of things it seems like Penske would like to stay at two cars for most events.
Allmendinger has stayed busy on the NASCAR side of things however, and won his first NASCAR race at Road America on June 22nd in a Penske Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series car. It was a great moment of redemption for Allmeninder in the short term after tearing up two IndyCars at Detroit and also in the long term after the failed drug test last summer.
Allmendinger is expected to race the next three Sprint Cup Series events for Phoenix Racing in the No. 51 Chevrolet and has also been slated to replace Bobby Labonte in the No.47 Toyota for JTG/Daughtery Racing for at least three more races in the 2013 season.
At the one year mark of the news that Allmendinger would not be racing in the Coke Zero 400 in the No. 22 Penske Dodge due to a failed drug test the story has taken a happy turn. Allmendinger is getting opportunities and even though it hasn't been all roses with good runs he has certainly shown he is a capable driver in both NASCAR and IndyCar this season.
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