Former open-wheel star A.J. Allmendinger may be coming home.
Allmendinger was suspended and subsequently released from his NASCAR drive at Penske Racing last season after failing a drug test. The California native has since passed NASCAR's Road to Recovery program and has been re-instated by the series, but it appears that he may be considering a return to open-wheel.
This morning, FOX Sports' Holly Cain broke the news that 'Dinger will be testing a Team Penske IndyCar on Feb. 18 and 19 at Sebring, Florida. As of now, that's the only thing that's concrete, but Cain writes that if all goes well, he's slated to race April 7 for Penske in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
Added funding could also put Allmendinger in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Indianapolis 500 according to Cain's report.
While stressing that it's only a test for now, Allmendinger thanked the Penske camp and team owner Roger Penske on his @AJDinger Twitter account for sticking with him :
"So happy and feel so blessed to have a chance to test for at sebring in an indycar. The whole organization and Roger...Especially is such a class act. Cant thank them enough for the chance and for keeping me a part of the family throughout it all"
He ended that particular series of tweets with the hashtag "nevergiveup."
Allmendinger, who recently helped get Michael Shank Racing on the podium at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, raced in Champ Car from 2004-2006. Heralded as one of the top Americans in the series, he netted five wins and 14 podium finishes across 40 starts for the RuSport and Forsythe Racing squads.
In 2007, he migrated to NASCAR and progressively improved, rising as high as 15th in the standings in 2011 (one top-5, 10 top-10s) for Richard Petty Motorsports. He then jumped to Penske Racing for 2012, replacing Kurt Busch in the No. 22 Dodge.
But on July 7, 2012, Allmendinger was suspended from the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona due to the aforementioned failed test. That suspension was later extended to an indefinite status and he was released by Penske in early August. However, after completing the Road to Recovery program, he came back and drove for Phoenix Racing in four of the final six races of the campaign.no comments