Sunday, June 11, 2006

Allmendinger Speaks On RuSport Ouster

A.J. Allmendinger spoke out yesterday, calling his release from Carl Russo’s RuSport Racing, “a marriage gone bad."

Just hours after his surprising ouster, the lone American on the Champ Car World Series grid, said, "I'll admit the timing caught me off a bit, and I'm a little disappointed it happened after only four races. But we were having our troubles, and there were differences in what I wanted for the team and what they wanted for the team."

Allmendinger denied reports that a blowup following a fourth-place finish at the Milwaukee Mile Sunday had led to his ouster. “It wasn't one thing,” he said. “It just wasn't working. I'm an emotional person, I want to win, and sometimes my emotions are a little over the top. But I can't change that. I'm 24, and I'm still learning to get better, inside and outside the car.”

After offering no specifics in a hastily arranged press conference Friday, Russo said Saturday that his former driver “has to mature as a man, not just as a driver. He's the most naturally talented driver I've ever seen, but that's not all there is to this business. Our decision was that he was not going to improve, so it was time for both of us to try a new environment. Maybe some tough love will put him on the right path. Maybe he needs a less sympathetic environment.”

In addition to an apparent clash of personalities, Allmensinger and Russo differ dramatically in their approach to the sport. Allmendinger does not have the technical knowledge of his replacement, former series champion Christiano da Matta. And after hiring a pair of high-dollar engineers from Newman-Haas Racing during the offseason, sources in the Champ Car garage say Russo was anxious to try new things in an effort to displace Sebastien Bourdais from the top of the heap. Allmendinger reportedly resisted those efforts, believing that no major changes were needed. When Bourdais ripped off a trio of wins to start the season, Russo was left seething. In his words, “it’s getting annoying.”

Russo praised da Matta’s technical expertise this week, saying, “One of the things we're going to benefit from is his wealth of technical expertise, the background, the Formula One experience that will continue to drive the technical side of the equation forward. We have, we think, a very strong technical staff and we're looking forward to benefitting from Cristiano's experience there.”

So while all parties profess to having no hard feelings, Allmendinger is out of a ride. No one believes his fiery personality will prevent him from finding a new home in the Champ Car paddock, however. Even Russo said, “I believe A.J. will (remain) in Champ Car, because he's too good not to. I hope he can harness that fire and make it work.” One possibility is Forsythe Championship Racing, where Allmendinger’s relationship with Paul Tracy and Red Bull could mean a few sleepless nights for Mario Dominguez.

His longtime relationship with Red Bull has prompted speculation that Allmendinger could be headed to the new Team Red Bull NASCAR Nextel Cup team. While that possibility seems remote, Allmendinger said he is keeping all his options open. "I love Champ Car,” he said. “I love everything about it, and if I can get a ride with a chance to win, that's where I'll be. I'd love to be in Portland next weekend, but I don't have anything yet, and I haven't heard from anybody. I'm in the process of getting an agent and exploring my options.”

"I'll land somewhere, and it will be better for me."

But for now -- at least for the moment -- there are no Americans on the Champ Car grid once again.


  1. Anonymous1:56 PM

    My boy Dinger does have an offer on the table from Coyne. If nothing happens in the next few days don't be surprised if he shows up in Portland with Dale.

    As for Cristiano's F1 experience I guess being able to determine if your engine has blown up or not gives you some technical experience.

    It's been a long weekend and this thing with A.J just might take some time to work it's self out. I'm starting to think that A.J just might finish out the season with Coyne and next season we will see some driver shake ups with A.J landing with a top tier team.

    I think in the long run this was a foolish move by Carl. Take out Long Beach because A.J was taken out on the first lap and they gave A.J 3 races! He was thrown under the bus by x Newman Haas guys who wanted their guy from the start.

    In talking with A.J throughout the year I knew things were pretty tense but I never imagined it would be this bad. I knew it caught A.J completely off guard.

    I also feel bad for Coyne. This is now the second year in a row that a top team has come in and poached his drivers. Now you may say all is fair and love and war but this aint NASCAR and CHAMP CAR is having a hard enough time filling out the grid.

    As for NASCAR no way no how. If Paul Tracy can not get a cart blanche entry into NASCAR after years and years of racing in CHAMP CAR why would anyone think that Dinger could just walk right in after only 2 years of time in CHAMP CAR?

    Dinger would need to spend sometime in BGN before even thinking of jumping into a Cup seat. If Red Bull had their eyes on any open wheel driver for that seat I would imagine Buddy Rice would be higher on their list then Dinger.

    Well here is hoping that Dinger gets in a seat for Portland and outruns that 10 car!!!!

    TEAM A.J!!!!!!!


  2. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Mario was fired this morning effective immediately. So look for Mario to move to replace Dan Clark at CTE and Reay or Bremer in at Coyne. Looks like it will be a great weekend at Portland.

  3. Anonymous7:30 PM

    HA HA RuSport!! You should now change your team name to RuTheDay!!

    Way to go A.J. and show who the real losers are.

  4. Anonymous7:09 PM

    Well, well!!! Two for two. Yeah, it must have been the driver and his "lack of technical knowledge" that held back RuSport.

    Thanks to his firing, A.J. just might win the championship this year.