Allmendinger, team running well

AJ Allmendinger returning to Phoenix Racing at Martinsville Speedway

AJ Allmendinger will continue his role at Phoenix Racing this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Allmendinger finished second in the Martinsville NASCAR Sprint Cup race in the spring.

He has driven the car the last two weeks while Regan Smith, who was originally expected to take over driving duties from Kurt Busch, has been filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports. Allmendinger has finishes of 24th and 35th in the two races with the team, but has been running much better in the races than that reflects.

"I'm excited," Allmendinger said. "Just being in the car is a good thing. We really didn't get the finish we were looking for last week at Kansas but every race is different.

"I'm really looking forward to Martinsville. Phoenix Racing has good equipment and with their close relationship to Hendrick Motorsports we'll have a solid baseline to start the weekend. If we can get the car right, I know we can run up front."

Originally, the organization only had concrete plans with Smith for the past two races. Allmendinger is returning to the series after serving a NASCAR suspension for a substance-abuse violation.

"AJ has done a great job for us the last couple of weeks," Phoenix Racing general manager Steve Barkdoll said. "He hasn't gotten the breaks that he deserved. He runs well at Martinsville, so we would like to give him another shot."

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