FOX Sports Exclusive
Allmendinger familiar with Phoenix
It’s time for Dinger in the desert.
NASCAR on FOX brings live coverage of the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. The green flag drops at 1 p.m. ET, with coverage on FOX beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Yes, AJ Allmendinger will reprise his role with Phoenix Racing this weekend. But it will be Allmendinger’s debut in the new Generation 6 vehicle. His ride? The No. 51 Guy Roofing Chevy SS.
Although Allmendinger admits “it will take a little time to get acclimated to it,” the 31-year-old driver has always been a fan of Phoenix International Raceway. In eight starts, Dinger has started from the front row three times — including when he earned the pole for this race in 2010. In 2010, he also posted top 10s in both races including a career-high sixth.
“I've always enjoyed the race track,” Allmendinger said. "It will definitely feel different, but I'll be ready to go.
"It helps to go to a track that I enjoy already. It's a tough race track, especially with the repave. It starts off so slick when we make our first few laps, then it gains grip. It picks up a ton of grip pretty quickly, then it goes back to being slick for the race. It's definitely a challenging race track.
“I know the guys will have a good race car ready for the weekend. I was really impressed with their run last week at Daytona. It showed that they're putting together solid equipment and have a good feel for the new car. I think for the first 30 to 45 minutes I'll have to ease into it and get used to the new car, but after that, I'll be up to speed and ready to go.”
Allmendinger was sidelined last summer from NASCAR competition after testing positive for Adderall at Kentucky Speedway in June. He was subsequently dismissed from the seat of the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge while completing the Road to Recovery. In October, James Finch offered Dinger a ride with Phoenix Racing at Charlotte.
Lately, Allmendinger has shown a proficiency to get up to speed in whatever type of race car he drives – whether it’s a stock car, a Grand American or an IndyCar. On Wednesday, Allmendinger tweeted about “a hard training session at the Penske Racing shop” followed by “working hard to keep getting stronger for whatever opportunity comes next."
Allmendinger acknowledged that testing the No. 2 Penske Racing IndyCar at Sebring International Raceway on Feb. 19 provided quite the workout. But the affable racer is being coy about that next opportunity. According to Roger Penske, Allmendinger’s next open wheel stint will be the two-day test at Barber Motorsports Park on March 12-13.
Penske said on Sunday he thought Allmendinger’s test at Sebring “was very positive overall.”
“When he jumped in the car, he was quick right out of the box,” Penske said. “When he got down to that last half a second, he saw it was going to take a little more time. We’re excited. Obviously, we plan on running him in the two-day test at Barber and in the race.
“The big question is can we get him an oval test and then maybe Long Beach and go to Indy?”
Allmendinger is scheduled to drive for Phoenix Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway and Martinsville Speedway. However, the current IndyCar plan to race in the Grand Prix of Alabama on April 7 would preclude Allmendinger from NASCAR competition.
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