December 21, 2011
All of a sudden, we don't need to feel so sorry for AJ Allmendinger anymore.
Over the last few days, it appeared that Allmendinger was losing both his ride in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 and his sponsor as Best Buy jumped to Roush Fenway Racing. But now, Allmendinger will join Penske Racing to drive the recently vacated No. 22 Shell Dodge.
"AJ is a very talented and motivated driver and we believe he will be a terrific fit with our team," Roger Penske said in a statement. "He has shown great promise and consistent results on the track over the last few seasons."
"I have always admired Roger Penske and the way his teams compete and win in every series where they race," Allmendinger said in a release. "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."
This is a huge move for Allmendinger, jumping from a team with promise to a team with proven success. Allmendinger was as close to the Chase as 13th this year, and was one of the sport's most consistent drivers late in races. He averaged an increase of 3.7 spots per race in the final 10 percent of races, adding 134 points to his total, or the difference between 15th and 24th in the season standings. If there's a guy primed to break out big in 2012, it's him.
Associated rumors have David Ragan going to the 43, but those remain unconfirmed and, indeed, merely speculative, as do the rumors that Kurt Busch would take over the iconic seat. For now, this is Allmendinger's day; everything ended up breaking right for him after all.
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