Red Bull Racing confirmed today what Sirius Speedway first told you late last week, that driver AJ Allmendinger will not be part of their plans for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Allmendinger will be replaced by veteran Mike Skinner at the wheel of the #84 Red Bull Toyota in this week’s open test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, joining Scott Speed and Brian Vickers. No announcement was made on the team’s 2009 driver lineup, but Speed is widely expected to take the wheel of the #84 Toyota.
Red Bull Racing Vice President and General Manager Jay Frye said of Allmendinger, “AJ is a talented driver, and we really enjoyed working with him. He’s come a long way in just two years, and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Allmendinger has not commented on his release, but is reportedly talking with both Petty Enterprises and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates about 2009 Sprint Cup Series openings. There is no word on whether he will finish out the season with Red Bull, but he is listed as driver of the #84 Red Bull Toyota for this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.
Hall Increase Approved: The Charlotte City Council agreed yesterday to increase the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s budget by $32 million, but only after chastising Hall officials for low-balling initial estimates. The bulk of the additional money will go toward improved exhibits, and was approved by the council on a 9-2 vote. The additional money will boost the Hall's total cost to $195 million; paid for by hospitality taxes and revenue generated by land sales.
Mayfield Testing: Jeremy Mayfield is testing the No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge today, in the first of a two-day test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Mayfie of three drivers testing for Ganassi, joining Juan Pablo Montoya and Bryan Clauson. A team spokesman confirmed that Reed Sorenson is still scheduled to drive the car this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
And Finally: Anyone tempted to write Kyle Busch out of the 2008 championship chase need only to look at past history for an excuse not to do so. Busch is currently 12th in points --210 out of the lead -- with eight races to go.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that in 2006, Jimmie Johnson was seventh in points -- 146 out – after five races in the Chase, before going on a late-season hot streak that earned him the 2006 championship.