Former Champ Car standout AJ Allmendinger has been confirmed for one more IndyCar Series run with Team Penske and will also return to the cockpit of a Penske NASCAR Nationwide entry on the series' debut at Mid-Ohio next weekend.
Allmendinger, who contested five races in a Team Penske Indy car earlier this year, had been expected to run as many as eight IndyCar Series races this season for The Captain, and has piloted the No. 2 Chevy with a blend of financial support from Penske and series sponsor IZOD.
Questions regarding Allmendinger's ongoing involvement with Penske's open-wheel program were raised after the Californian had a calamitous run during June's Dual In Detroit double-header, but he will have one more shot supporting championship leader Helio Castroneves and fellow driver Will Power at the IndyCar season finale on Oct. 19.
“He will run for us in a third car at the IndyCar race at Fontana, and he'll drive for us at Mid-Ohio in the Nationwide race, so he's got two more drives for us that are planned this year,” team owner Roger Penske told RACER.
“We'd like to run him some more, but sponsorship is key to everything today. The costs just to run an Indy car have gone up, so it's not something you do without having the budget in place.”
Penske also said he'd like to keep Allmendinger in the family if the money can be raised, but won't prevent him from pursuing other opportunities that arise.
“He's had a number of people contact me about him and he's had just as many reach out to him directly, and I said we should talk about them as they come in, and if there's a full-time opportunity waiting for him, I'm certainly not going to stand in his way or hold him back.
“If I have something I can offer him full time, that's certainly something to take a look at, but there's also a couple of good things he's taking a look at to see if it's feasible or not for him to do.”
With Allmendinger's career back on course, Penske takes pride in how the 31-year-old has rebounded from the suspension he received in 2012 after testing positive for a banned stimulant while competing in NASCAR.
“My main mission was to get him through his problem, which he did – he faced up to the issue, had the poison he had to drink and came back stronger,” Penske said. “And I think people are thinking about going forward with him based on what he's doing today and not some of the negative stuff that took place earlier in NASCAR.”