Team Penske has added a third driver with big oval experience to its lineup for the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships in an effort to secure Helio Castroneves the IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
AJ Allmendinger will drive the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske car in the season finale Oct. 19 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He competed in five races in the first half of the season, with a best finish of seventh (led 23 laps) in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race after starting fifth. Allmendinger made his series debut at Barber Motorsports Park in early April, starting 10th and finishing 19th.
“I’m looking forward to racing the IZOD Chevy in the INDYCAR season finale,” said Allmendinger, who will make his sixth IZOD IndyCar Series start for Team Penske. “It’s always a great opportunity to compete for Team Penske and I had great time and a solid result racing the IZOD car in the last 500-mile race back in May at the Indianapolis 500. Hopefully, we can close out the season with another good finish for Team Penske and for Chevrolet.”
Allmendinger will join Castroneves and Will Power, winner of two of the past four races, on the starting grid. Castroneves enters the 250-lap race 25 points behind championship front-runner Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
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Twenty-three drivers, including the title contenders, tested at Auto Club Speedway on Sept. 24.
“AJ has been a good addition to our team this season and he was terrific racing the IZOD Chevrolet in the Indianapolis 500,” team owner Roger Penske said. “With his experience racing on the Auto Club Speedway oval in the past we believe he will be very competitive as we try and end the season with a strong result for Team Penske.”
Allmendinger won five races in Champ Car from 2004-06, but the 31-year-old California native hasn't competed at the speedway in an Indy car. He's driven there often in stock cars. In addition to his IZOD IndyCar Series races, Almendinger has earned two victories while competing with Penske Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season.
Chevrolet enters the last race of the 2013 season tied with Honda in the IZOD IndyCar Series manufacturer’s championship. Each engine supplier has produced nine victories on the season so the winner at Auto Club Speedway will claim the series manufacturer’s title.