AJ Allmendinger could be set for a return to open-wheel racing in IndyCar after lining up a test with Team Penske.
The Champ Car race winner lost his Penske NASCAR Sprint Cup seat when he was suspended for a prohibited substances violation last summer. Allmendinger subsequently returned to NASCAR with Phoenix Racing and seemed set to continue in stock cars. But his former employer Roger Penske has now offered him an IndyCar test at Sebring on Feb. 18-19.
"I'm so happy and feel so blessed to have a chance to test for Penske Racing at Sebring in an IndyCar," Allmendinger posted on Twitter. "The whole organization, and Roger especially, is such a class act. I can't thank them enough for the chance and for keeping me a part of the family throughout it all."
Penske has fielded three IndyCar entries for Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe in recent years, but was expected to scale down to a two-car lineup and drop Briscoe for 2013. However, the team has registered a third car for the season ahead. FOXSports.com reports that that Allmendinger could be entered for the Barber Motorsports Park and Long Beach rounds as well as the Indianapolis 500 if the test is a success.
The 31-year-old Allmendinger left open-wheelers after his breakthrough Champ Car season in 2006, joining Red Bull's NASCAR program. Progress was slow in stock cars, but in 2011 Allmendinger achieved a career-best position of 15th in the Cup standings with Richard Petty Motorsports. He earned the chance to replace 2004 champion Kurt Busch at Penske, only for that deal to turn sour with the suspension.
After completing NASCAR's Road to Recovery scheme and regaining his competition license, Allmendinger admitted he was open to both NASCAR and IndyCar as his next step.