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Allmendinger Replaces Kurt Busch At Penske Racing

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, December 21 2011

AJ Allmendinger is moving to Penske Racing. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Penske Racing has named AJ Allmendinger to replace Kurt Busch as the driver of the team’s No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Allmendinger, competed in the Cup Series for Richard Petty Motorsports, is coming off a season that saw him finish 15th in the series standings while battling for a position in the Chase for the Championship. The 30-year-old native of Los Gatos, Calif., earned one top-five, 10 top-10 and 22 top-15 results in 2011 while driving the No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports.

“I am really excited about the opportunity to join Penske Racing and drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge in 2012,” said Allmendinger. “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.”

RPM, which announced on Tuesday that Best Buy was pulling out as the sponsor of the No. 43 car, issued the following statement on Wednesday:

“Richard Petty Motorsports has released AJ Allmendinger to pursue other opportunities within the sport,” stated team Chief Executive Officer Brian Moffitt. “AJ is a talented driver whom we all enjoyed working with and we wish him the best.

“Our plan remains to run a two-car team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012 and we are continuing down that path,” said Moffitt. “We believe there are several very talented drivers who are still available and would embrace the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the legendary No. 43 Ford Fusion. We continue to move forward and are optimistic about the future of this race team.”

Allmendinger will join a team that appears poised to compete for a position in the 2012 Cup Series Chase. The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team produced two wins, three poles and 16 top-10 finishes in 2011 as it earned a spot in the Chase and finished 11th in the series standings. Allmendinger will be paired with crew chief Todd Gordon, who led the Penske Racing No. 22 Nationwide Series team to six victories last season and was named last week as the new chief of the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge.

“AJ is a very talented and motivated driver and we believe he will be a terrific fit with our team,” said Penske Racing owner 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.”

Allmendinger honed his skills in the open-wheel racing ranks. After winning the Barber Dodge Pro Series title in 2002 and the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2003, he earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Champ Car World Series in 2004. He posted five wins and finished third in the 2005 Champ Car World Series before making the switch to NASCAR. He first competed in the Cup Series in 2007 and he’s earned 26 top-10 finishes in less than five Cup Series seasons. Allmendinger has finished inside the top 20 in points in each of the last two seasons.

In moving to Penske, Allmendinger moves from Ford to Dodge.

“We’re excited to have A.J. Allmendinger join Penske Racing in 2012,” said Ralph Gilles, president and CEO, SRT Brand and Motorsports. “A.J. will bring a dynamic flair and skill to the No. 22 team that will be an excellent fit with new crew chief Todd Gordon. His competitive driving style mirrors the performance attitude of the Dodge Motorsports team. We’re confident we’ll have two competitive Dodge Chargers on the track in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition next season.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, December 21 2011
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  • Carole says:

    WOW!!!!! For me that was quite a surprise move for Penske! Do I think that Best Buy had a say-so in the decision? Not sure he will do what KuB did There. Feel bad for David Ragan – I thought he might be the pick. Do think sponsors are having much more of a say-so in choosing the drivers.