Allmendinger to take over for Busch with Penske

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McClatchy Tribune
Thursday, December 22, 2011
— What a week for AJ Allmendinger—he lost a sponsor and gained a ride.

Penske Racing on Wednesday named Allmendinger as the driver of its No. 22 Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series next season, replacing Kurt Busch, who left the organization at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

On Tuesday, Richard Petty Motorsports announced the sponsor of its No. 43 team—which Allmendinger drove for this season—was leaving for Roush Racing, putting the future of the ride in doubt.

Just 24 hours later, Allmendinger had a new home.

“AJ is a very talented and motivated driver and we believe he will be a terrific fit with our team,” team owner Roger Penske said in a statement. “He has shown great promise and consistent results on the track over the last few seasons.”

Allmendinger will work with crew chief Todd Gordon, who was promoted within the organization to that position last week.

“I have always admired Roger Penske and the way his teams compete and win in every series where they race,” said Allmendinger, who finished a career-best 15th in the Cup series in 2011.

“I am honored to join Penske Racing and I will do my very best to continue to build on the standard of excellence established across the organization.”

The 30-year-old native of Los Gatos, Calif., has four top-five and 26 top-10 finishes and one pole in 152 career Cup starts. He spent the past three seasons driving the No. 43 for RPM.

Allmendinger began his NASCAR career with Red Bull Racing, which debuted in the Cup series with Toyota in 2007. He has also made eight starts in the Nationwide series and 13 in Trucks.

Despite off-track issues with Busch, Penske enjoyed one of its most successful NASCAR seasons in 2011.

Brad Keselowski won three races and finished fifth in points in just his second full season in the series.

Busch’s No. 22 team won two races and three poles and qualified for the Chase, finishing 11th in points.

RPM said it still hopes to field two Cup teams in 2012 but will need to find another sponsor for the No. 43. Marcos Ambrose drives the organization’s No. 9 Ford.

Last updated: 7:03 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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