Allmendinger Welcomes New Chapter

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“Yeah, to have Mr. Penske personally want you to drive his race car is a thing that for me gives me a lot of confidence,” (Photo: Getty Images)

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A.J. Allmendinger got an early Christmas gift with a ride in Penske Racing’s Shell/Pennzoil Dodge and looks forward to performing well in 2012.
 
In a whirlwind of moves that saw Allmendinger go from what looked to be a secured seat in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 entry to taking the place of the departed Kurt Busch at Penske, the former open wheel star is grateful for the new opportunity.
 
“I'm excited,” said Allmendinger.  “Walking through the shop for the first time and looking at some of the cars and meeting some of the people, just how positive everybody is at this race team is something that is – it just makes me feel good showing up to it.
 
“And to have Mr. Penske, just his accolades and who he is as a person, to want me to drive his race cars just gives me more confidence than I've ever had.  I'm really looking forward to kind of going through this process and getting to Daytona.”
 
After a successful run through the now defunct Champ Car World Series, Allmendinger made the move to NASCAR in 2007 with Red Bull Racing.
 
However his tenure there didn’t last long and he was ultimately shuffled out of the seat before eventually winding up with what turned into Richard Petty Motorsports.
 
Despite turning in a solid effort in 2011 including finishing fifteenth in the final Sprint Cup Series standings, Allmendinger found himself available when sponsor Best Buy opted to move from RPM to Roush Fenway Racing.
 
Allmendinger believes his open wheel background was one of the attributes Penske considered when offering him the No. 22 ride.
 
“Yeah, I think for me with my background and where I've come from, Roger Penske and just Penske Corporation as a race team, as a business, the way he goes about just taking care of his guys, everything that goes along with that, it's been the pinnacle,” he said.  “I've always wanted to drive for Mr. Penske, so it's something that when the opportunity arose, I was    I jumped right at it.
 
“It's something that I have always dreamed of, and I just feel like the way he runs his organization, the way he takes care of his people is first class and top notch. So that's something that I wanted to be a part of.”
 
Allmendinger says having Penske in his corner has already added to his confidence level on what can be accomplished with the team in 2012.
 
“Yeah, to have Mr. Penske personally want you to drive his race car is a thing that for me gives me a lot of confidence,” Allmendinger said.  “It's the same thing as when Richard Petty asked me to come drive his car.  It gives you a lot of confidence when you have somebody with that background and with the accolades and everything that they've went through in their lives to make their organizations where they're at.  It gives me a lot of confidence.”
 
Allmendinger also believes in addition to what he can do behind the wheel as a driver, his experience working with other organizations during his NASCAR career will be a benefit to helping elevate the performance at Penske.
 
“I feel like maybe I bring a couple of different ideas in with what I've gone through to get to this point and what I've learned from other race teams and other crew chiefs, things like that,” he explained.  “But ultimately I think the best way to make this organization better is to work well with Brad (Keselowski), have two teammates that are really happy working together and just really work together with the team to reach the pinnacle, and that's win races.
 
“If we can do that, I don't see why I can't come in and help make the team better.”

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