AJ Allmendinger will make a competitive return to the American open-wheel racing scene, after Team Penske confirmed that it will field a part-time programme for the Californian to contest a selection of rounds on the 2013 IndyCar Series calendar.
At this stage, the 31-year-old will race at the championship’s third round at Barber Motorsports Park, as well as the famed Indianapolis 500.
Allmendinger will pilot the team’s #2 IZOD-sponsored Chevrolet-powered entry – formerly driven by Ryan Briscoe – at the two races, and subject to his performances, the deal could extend into further appearances over the course of the season.
Allmendinger was sensationally suspended from competition and fired by Team Penske’s NASCAR operation after failing a random drugs test last year. After successfully undergoing NASCAR’s ‘Road to Recovery’ rehabilitation programme, he was allowed to return to competition, and was recently given an opportunity to strut his stuff in an IndyCar by his former employer at Sebring Raceway.
“It is exciting to welcome AJ back to Penske Racing,” team owner Roger Penske said.
“We have always believed in AJ and his ability and he deserves this opportunity. We think he will be a strong competitor this season in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Team Penske and we look forward to racing with him in the IZOD car at Barber and at the Indianapolis 500.”
for Allmendinger, it is a homecoming to the US open-wheel racing scene after a six-year absence. He was considered one of the hottest local prospects during a brief stint in the now-defunct Champ Car World Series, claiming five race wins and seven podium finishes.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to my roots and racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series,” Allmendinger added.
“I have to thank Roger (Penske), Tim (Cindric) and everyone at Team Penske for this opportunity.
“I think it’s every driver’s dream to race for Team Penske at the Indy 500 and that experience is going to be incredible. I also have to thank IZOD for their support and for giving me a chance to show what I can do. I definitely intend to make the most of it.”