Allmendinger joins open-wheel endeavor

Michael Shank will expand his race operations to include an IZOD IndyCar Series team in 2012.

The principal partners in Michael Shank Racing will also include NASCAR driver AJ Allmedinger and businessman Brian Bailey. The IndyCar team will join Shank’s Daytona Prototype effort in the Grand-Am Rolex Sport Club Series and be based in Columbus, Ohio.

“For me, the Indianapolis 500 has always been the dream,” Shank said. “With the new 2012 Dallara IndyCar, there is a window for a team like mine to join the series and pursue that dream. We’ve got the opportunity to come in and make an impact while still running an efficient program, doing the most we can with the available resources.

“We are still working on finalizing several elements of our program, but we wanted to take this opportunity to announce our commitment to IndyCar and we look forward to finalizing plans and to being ready to go in 2012.”

While Allmendinger’s focus will remain in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, he is expected to reprise his role for MSR in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Allmendinger is currently 14th in the Cup standings.

“Obviously I have a close connection to open-wheel racing, but add that to the chance to work with Mike and his organization and it’s something that really appealed to me," said Allmendinger. “Mike is one of the hardest-working guys in motorsports and he’s a racer. I’ve always liked that about him, so I know he’ll fight hard for MSR Indy’s performance. We also hope to open some business relationships for our NASCAR Cup partners with this effort too."