Petty Signs Allmendinger

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Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that AJ Allmendinger has agreed to a contract that calls for him to race in the 2009 season with the team retaining an option for 2010.

Allmendinger, 27, will drive the team’s No. 44 Dodge in the Budweiser Shootout plus the first eight races of the 2009 Sprint Cup season as well as the Daytona race in July. The team is looking to put together a sponsorship package that would guarantee the No. 44’s participation in the remaining 2009 races and the 2010 season.

“This is pretty awesome news for me,” said Allmendinger who posted two top-10 finishes in 2008 and a victory in the Sprint Showdown. “I just want to get behind the wheel of a race car and race. We have a lot of work to do on the track and need to sell some sponsorship, but this team has great equipment and I think there is a lot of chemistry here based on how we did at the end of last season.”

Allmendinger begins his third full season in Sprint Cup racing after driving the final five races of the 2008 season with the RPM team. He posted the 14th most points of any driver during that five-race period.

“I cannot put into words how excited I am to run the No. 44 in 2009,” Allmendinger said. “I raced with these guys five times last year and loved everything about it. The cars were great, the guys were great and we put up some pretty good results. I’m just very grateful to have this opportunity.”

Allmendinger, a Los Gatos, Calif. native, is a five-time winner in the Champ Car World Series but is relatively new to the world of the heavier, full-bodied stock cars.

“AJ has a ton of potential,” said team owner Richard Petty. “I went testing with him a few weeks ago. When he climbed out of the car I think he went to everyone working on the car asking them questions and wanting to know what was going on. That’s the kind of thing you want out of your driver. He’s a young guy and I think we can help him and he can help us.”

Allmendinger joins Richard Petty Motorsports’ teammates Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson. Sammy Johns will serve as crew chief on the No. 44. An agreement in principle to merge Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Holdings to form Richard Petty Motorsports was announced earlier this month.

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