AJ Allmendinger has been blessed with second chances.
After Allmendinger successfully completed NASCAR’s “Road to Recovery” program and proved himself behind the wheel of the No. 51 Chevrolet in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series race, Phoenix Racing team owner James Finch will give him another opportunity next weekend at Kansas Speedway.
“He’ll be back in,” Finch said from his boat Sunday. “He did a real fine job before he received the penalty. And he was outrunning Kurt (Busch, Phoenix Racing’s driver for 30 of the first 31 races).”
Allmendinger, 30, filled in Regan Smith, who is subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. while the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports car recovers from a concussion. After starting 38th, Allmendinger ran in the top 20 before NASCAR penalized him for the car having a tire outside of the pit box on Lap 265. Allmendinger served a pass-thru penalty on Lap 269 and still finished 24th.
“It was great to get back into a Cup car, and I just want to thank James Finch and everyone at Phoenix Racing for giving me this opportunity — I’m really grateful,” Allmendinger said via news release. “I was hoping I could have repaid that favor with a little bit stronger finish.
“But it was great to get back in the car and compete again. It was a solid weekend all around despite everything coming together so quickly. I want to also thank everyone who has been so supportive through this entire process. It meant a lot, and now we are all focused on building on this and looking forward to whatever comes next.”
Allmendinger won the pole at Kansas Speedway in April and led the first 44 laps before his then Penske Racing team discovered the secondary throttle linkage broke on the No. 22 Dodge. Allmendinger lost eight laps for repairs and finished 32nd. In his first five starts at Kansas before the 1 1/2-miler was reconfigured over the summer, however, Allmendinger posted two top-10 finishes.