A.J. Allmendinger has just signed on to drive the #84 Red Bull Camry next year in NASCAR Nextel Cup. He'll be teamed with Brian Vickers who signed on to drive the #83 Red Bull Camry back in June.
"Allmendinger began exploring his options in NASCAR late this summer, and ran two Truck Series events for Bill Davis Racing. He finished 13th in New Hampshire in September and was fifth earlier this month at Talladega.
Red Bull officials kept tabs on his efforts, then chose him to join Vickers as the fresh faces of their upstart organization. The team also hired crew chief Rick Viers, who guided Allmendinger during the two Truck races." - Source: Jenna Fryer (AP)
You might remember A.J. from Champ Car this past June where he was fired from RuSport and then he was hired by Forsythe Racing and the 24-year-old Californian immediately won back-to-back-to-back races at Portland, Cleveland, and Toronto, the first three victories of his three-year Champ Car career.
One of the reasons why he was released by RuSport were his bad temper and attitude when things weren't going well. We'll have to see how "well" things go when he is the 2nd driver of a new team in the highly competitive arena of NASCAR. I hope there will be no tempertantrums, although it would be interesting to watch I agree.
I also hope Paul Tracy doesn't get his nose out of joint because he has been looking to get into a good NASCAR ride for a few years now, and with the exception of a few Busch Series starts nothing has really come to fruitation while Allmendinger, who Paul sponsored while racing go-carts in the U.S. Southwest get this "prize" ride. By "prize", I mean it is one of the 2 best seats, in my opinion, of the new Toyota contingent in NASCAR. As a result, with no serious offers from a good NASCAR team to lure him from his stable Forsythe ride, Paul has stayed in the Champ Car Series.
Red Bull is trying to get Allmendinger into the Cup race this weekend at Atlanta, and has even asked Bill Elliott to step aside for the remainder of his contract with TRB to get A.J. the seat time that he needs.
I personally don't think A.J. should be in the race in Atlanta. Even Montoya isn't going into that race. Atlanta is the fastest track on the NASCAR Tour and to put someone in a Cup car with absolutely no seat time, sorry folkes Truck doesn't count, is absolutely stupid. He hasn't even tested there for crying out loud, at least Montoya tested at Talladega before he ran an ARCA race there.
I'd rather see David Ragan in the race than A.J., and after last weeks performance you know just how much of a weapon Ragan is right now. For comparison purposes, I would put Ragan as a high powered rifle and A.J. as a surface-to-air missile (SAM) on the "weapon scale" for Atlanta.
By wanting to put him in that car this weekend I think TRB is not showing the respect of the other drivers in the series, and they are jeopardizing their safety. By the same token, I believe NASCAR would be greatly negligent by allowing him to drive in that race. Sure he needs seat time, but TRB should go about it the same way as Ganassi and Montoya are, by participating in some of the "lower" series first.
I'm sure Allmendinger will be a positive addition to NASCAR in time, that I have no doubt of, but he must enter the series properly without jeopardizing the safety of his competitors. If Team Red Bull were smart they would let Bill Elliott drive the car this week, and let him get the team the much needed practice of being in a real race without the worries of a "rookie" driver too. Then get A.J. some testing time for Texas, and put him in the seat at Texas, or do the same for an upcoming Busch race and move to Cup at another track, like phoenix - which is far safer to crash at than Atlanta or Texas.
The picture is of A.J. and his fiancee Canadian Lynne Kushnirenk, former 2003 Miss Molson Indy who now runs a chiropractic practice in Toronto.