Team Penske announced today, at an Indianapolis Motor Speedway Press Conference, that A.J. Allmendinger will run the #2 IZOD Chevrolet at Barber and May's Indianapolis 500.
The 31-year-old will be returning to an open-wheel cockpit for the first time since the 2006 Champ Car World Series finale at Surfers Paradise. He won 5 races in '06, including back-to-back-to-back wins after switching teams mid-season to Forsythe's #7 entry where he ran the final 9 events.
Allmendinger left Champ Car following the 2006 season, transitioning the NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. Competing in 174 races from 2007 to last weekend's event in Phoenix, Dinger brought home five top-5s and 29-top 10 finishes.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to my roots and racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series,” said Allmendinger. “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.”
The Californian tested the Team Penske Indy car at Sebring last month, his first time returning to a Penske entry since running the first 17 races of the 2012 Cup season with the organization before being suspended for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy. He has since completed the NASCAR Road to Recovery program and has returned to NASCAR sanctioned events.
“It is exciting to welcome AJ back to Penske Racing,” said Roger Penske. “He obviously went through a tough time last year but he has done everything he needed to in order to get back to racing at the top level of the sport. 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.”
Having only five Champ Car ovals under his belt, all between Milwaukee and Las Vegas, Team Penske will likely schedule an April test at either Texas or California to get the Indianapolis 500 rookie driver prepared for IMS's 3-stage Rookie Orientation Program.
With additional events likely to be added to his IndyCar schedule, Allmendinger's next run in an Indy car will be March 12-13 INDYCAR spring training open test at Barber Motorsports Park.