Although AJ only has one Sprint Cup race under his belt at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was a memorable race for multiple reasons. I don’t think anyone will forget the horrible tire problems that caused NASCAR to throw competition cautions every 10 to 15 laps. But for AJ, the race was also notable because it was the sight of his first top 10 finish in the Sprint Cup series.
Mother nature, combined with mechanical troubles on the 84 Red Bull car, only allowed AJ 20 laps of track time in his first visit to Indy in 2007. So when he went on track for qualifying that Saturday afternoon, Turn 4 reached out and bit him and AJ missed the show.
He came back strong in 2008 though, in his second race with Jimmy Elledge atop the pit box. He turned a lap fast enough to qualify his way in and started the race in the 26th position. Despite problems with the Goodyear compound, Elledge made multiple calls for just 2 tires in order to gain track position in the stop and go race. AJ even led the field for a handful of laps before finally bringing the silver 84 car home in 10th position.
Now driving the #44 Hunt Brothers Pizza Dodge for Richard Petty Motorsports, hopefully AJ can bring some of that magic back for the 2009 race. Indy is a high paying venue, so who knows – maybe a good finish will buy AJ one of those new R6 motors or entry into the last 10 races, which are still up in the air for sponsorship.