What a turnaround for Allmendinger! Even with his open-wheel experience and having race at the Brickyard 400, he holds rookie status for his first Indianapolis 500
Leeds, Ala. – A. J. Allmendinger and three others will participate in the rookie orientation program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 11. Under the watchful eyes of veteran drivers, the newcomers must successfully complete three phases of the program before being allowed to make a qualification attempt for the Indianapolis 500. Participants must display good car control, placement of car and consistent driving know-how.
Allmendinger has raced in the Brickyard 400 at IMS, but he has never competed in the Indianapolis 500, even though he has longed to do so. For the Indianapolis 500, the outgoing driver will drive Team Penske’s IZOD Chevrolet.
“For me, this is a dream come true,” the California native said. “It is something I have wanted to do, but never got that opportunity when Champ Car split (away). Like anything, it is a new challenge and I have to get used to it. They have already told me I can’t brake at the end of the straightaway (like in a stock car), even though that it is what I am used to doing.
“The good thing about Indy is that you get so much time there. You don’t have to rush it. And I am very fortunate to have Helio (Castroneves) and Rick Mears there to coach me along. Helio is a great teammate, and he will fly in next week to help me out. It will be pretty cool to roll out of Gasoline Alley and on to the track.”
At the Barber Motorsports Park, Castroneves paid high complimented Allmendinger for not only being a quick learner but a highly versatile driver as well. “A. J. can jump into any kind of car and do well,” Castroneves said. “Right now, I have to give him credit as he’s already in the top-10 in speed at Barber with only limited testing.”
Allmendinger will be joined by Firestone Indy Lights driver Carlos Munoz along with upstarts Conor Daly and Tristan Vautier. Three of them recently had successful rookie runs at the Texas Motor Speedway.
With his drive and determination, Allmendinger’s potential in IndyCar seems limitless and his presence adds character and potential stardom to the series.