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Allmendinger signs deal to stay at Petty
AJ Allmendinger will continue writing the next chapter of the Richard Petty legacy behind the wheel of the No. 43 Ford.
Allmendinger, who is currently 22nd in the point standings, has signed a multi-year contract extension with Richard Petty Motorsports that will allow him to build on the NASCAR Sprint Cup program he began when the company was still under the Gillett Evernham Motorsports banner, sources told FOXSports.com on Wednesday.
A formal announcement was made Friday at Watkins Glen International.
Despite an early crash course in stock car racing, the former CART open-wheel racer continues to improve his craft under the tutelage of “The King” Richard Petty. In less than three full seasons racing on the Cup tour, Allmendinger has survived the challenge of working with several different owners, three different manufacturers and a variety of crew chiefs and hasn’t lost his fight. Certainly, the ability to remain with the same team over the next two seasons will provide Allmendinger with the stability he needs to take his game to the next level.
Allmendinger, 28, joined the organization at Martinsville in October 2008. After initially driving the No. 10 Dodge, he transferred to the No. 44 Dodge in 2009 for his first full season on the Sprint Cup tour and earned a top finish of third in the Daytona 500. He posted an additional six top 10’s and completed 97.3 percent of all laps that season.
In Allmendinger’s debut in the No. 43 Ford this season, he led 11 laps in the 2010 Daytona 500 before the infamous hole in the track ended his chances of a solid finish. Six races later, at Phoenix International Raceway, Allmendinger scored his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup pole. He led 17 laps before finishing 15th. But Phoenix proved to be a breakthrough of sorts and Allmendinger scored nine top-15 finishes over the next 13 races.
The Los Gatos, Cal., native started in BMX bikes at the age of 5, moved successfully through Quarter Midgets, Toyota Atlantics and Champ Car, where he won five races for Gerry Forsythe in 2006 before trying his hand at NASCAR.
Allmendinger made just three starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and scored a top-five finish in a Bill Davis-prepared Tundra before he jumped in the deep end with Toyota and Red Bull Racing in their inaugural Sprint Cup seasons. Allmendinger qualified for 17 races in 2007 with the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota. His teammate Brian Vickers, a former Nationwide Series champ and three-year veteran of the Cup Series at the time, struggled in the Red Bull equipment as well, qualifying for just 23 of 36 races that season.
After missing the first three races of 2008, Allmendinger was sidelined in favor of veteran Mike Skinner. The former truck champ mentored Allmendinger, who played the diligent student through the next five races. Allmendinger returned to the No. 84 car in the spring Talladega race. He scored two top 10s, including a ninth-place finish in Kansas Speedway before he parted ways with Red Bull in October. Three races later, Allmendinger joined the Gillett operation at Martinsville Speedway where he scored his first of three top-15 finishes in the final five races of the year.