One day after Best Buy announced it was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports, one of its drivers has done likewise. AJ Allmendinger has been named to the most glamorous available ride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, as the 30-year-old Los Gatos, Calif., native replaces Kurt Busch aboard Penske Racing's No. 22 Shell/AAA Dodge.
Allmendinger, who has competed in the Cup Series since 2007, is coming off a strong season that saw him finish 15th in the series standings while battling for a position in the Chase for the Championship. He earned one top-five, 10 top-10 and 22 top-15 results in 2011 while driving RPM's No. 43 Ford.
“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.”
Allmendinger will join a team that Busch took into the 2011 Chase, having won two races, three poles and scored 16 top-10 finishes to end 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 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.”
RPM's second seat needs sponsorship but, incidentally, has been rumored as a landing spot for Busch in 2012.