Allmendinger moves past Shootout setback

At least he still has a sense of humor about things.

AJ Allmendinger is the newest driver to the Penske Racing arsenal this season, but the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver has already enjoyed team owner Roger Penske’s birthday. Unfortunately, that fell on the day of the Budweiser Shootout this year – a race that didn’t go all that well for Allmendinger.

After already being involved in a crash in practice for the Daytona 500 earlier in the week, a crash also involving teammate Brad Keselowski, Allmendinger was recovering nicely with a solid run in the non-points Shootout. But his luck ended late in the race when he was caught up in the crash sparked with less than two laps remaining.

That wasn’t quite the birthday present he had envisioned for his team owner.

“A couple of wrecked race cars from the weekend,” he said when asked what he gave Penske. “All right. Sweet. Happy birthday to you, Roger. Not the present we wanted to give him. … It’s just like I tell everybody else in my life, just nothing but love. That’s what I got him.”

Still, Allmendinger is clearly already impressed with his team owner and his hands-on approach to the organization.

“It is kind of funny though, he called me on his birthday,” Allmendinger said. “To me, that shows me just how impressive Roger Penske is. He’s out on vacation on his birthday with his family, supposed to be relaxing, and he’s texting me. I’m sure he’s doing the same to Brad and the rest of the race team. He was telling me he’s sorry that he wasn’t at the Shootout.

“Hopefully we put last week behind us and all the wrong places that we put in and have accidents.”

Clearly, Allmendinger has put the incident behind him and is focusing on Thursday’s Gatorade Duels and the upcoming Daytona 500.

Still, when pressed further, he admitted that he didn’t exactly get his owner anything for his 75th birthday.

“What do you get someone that has everything?” he said.