After five years of trying, AJ Allmendinger has finally hit the NASCAR lottery.
Allmendinger came to NASCAR from the Open Wheel ranks, after winning the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship and the 2003 Toyota Atlantic Series title. He claimed Champ Car World Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2004, then won five races en route to a third-place finish in the 2005 Champ Car standings. He moved to NASCAR in 2007 with Red Bull Racing, which pushed him immediately into Sprint Cup competition despite an almost complete lack of stock car experience. He struggled to adapt, failing to qualify for eight of the first 10 races in 2007 before being pulled from the ride temporarily in favor of veteran Mike Skinner. Allmendinger ran just 17 times in his rookie season, with a top finish of 15th.
He ran 27 of 36 races for Red Bull in 2008, recording a pair of Top-10 finishes en route to 36th in points, before being dropped by Red Bull and moving to Richard Petty Motorsports. He has driven for RPM in each of the last three seasons, most recently at the wheel of Petty's iconic No. 43 Ford. The California native posted one Top-5 and 10 Top-10 finishes this season.
“I am really excited about the opportunity to join Penske Racing and drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge in 2012,” said Allmendinger today. “I have always admired Roger Penske and the way his teams compete and win in every series where they race. It is a privilege for me to represent such iconic and respected brands as Shell and Pennzoil, AAA and Dodge. I am honored to join Penske Racing and I will do my very best to continue to build on the standard of excellence established across the organization.”
“AJ is a very talented and motivated driver and we believe he will be a terrific fit with our team,” said Roger Penske. “He has shown great promise and consistent results on the track over the last few seasons and working with Todd and the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team will allow him to take the next step and compete for race wins and a spot in the Chase in 2012.”
“Shell and Pennzoil are extremely pleased by Penske Racing’s selection of AJ Allmendinger to drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge,” said Lisa Davis, President of Shell Oil Products U.S. “AJ has consistently demonstrated great potential and continuous improvement as a driver, and with Penske’s track record, our employees and customers can look forward to seeing him contending for wins and ultimately a championship in the NASCAR Cup Series. We know he will represent our brands well on and off the track and we look forward to a successful 2012 with AJ behind the wheel.”