Monday, May 13, 2013

Allmendinger to drive for Penske in Detroit

Team Penske today announced AJ Allmendinger will continue to enhance his IZOD IndyCar Series experience as he competes for the team at the upcoming Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans, May 31-June 2.

Allmendinger will drive the No. 2 Quicken Loans Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet at the newly-configured 2.3-mile Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit. As Allmendinger continues to get reacquainted to open-wheel racing this season after establishing his NASCAR career the last seven years, the Belle Isle race weekend will provide plenty of opportunity for experience. The event will host the first-ever INDYCAR doubleheader weekend as Allmendinger and the rest of the series drivers will compete in races on both Saturday and Sunday.

“I’m excited to race in Detroit. It’s a huge event for Chevrolet and it will be an honor to drive the Quicken Loans Chevy in the hometown of both of those organizations,” said Allmendinger. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge to compete in two races in one weekend but it’s a great opportunity for me to continue to improve and hopefully come away with two strong results at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans.”

Allmendinger joined the Team Penske IZOD IndyCar Series program this season as he returned to his open-wheel racing roots. The 31-year-old native of Los Gatos, California, raced at Barber Motorsports Park and at Long Beach in April and will drive the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske machine in the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

“We are excited to see AJ Allmendinger behind the wheel of the Quicken Loans IndyCar here in Detroit,” said Jay Farner, President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quicken Loans. “The entire Quicken Loans team is thrilled about the Grand Prix coming to our hometown, and now we have even more reason to cheer.”

After rising through the open-wheel ranks, Allmendinger emerged as a young star in the Champ Car World Series posting five wins and 14 podium finishes from 2004-06. He transitioned to stock car racing full-time in 2007 and he has enjoyed a solid career in NASCAR the past six seasons. Allmendinger parted ways with the Penske Racing NASCAR team last season.

The opportunity to reconnect with Team Penske emerged during the off-season as the team was looking for a third driver to work with Helio Castroneves and Will Power during select events in 2013. Originally scheduled to only compete at Barber and Indianapolis, Allmendinger has been solid in his return to IndyCar racing and Team Penske continues to look for opportunities to give the personable racer more experience adding races at Long Beach and now Detroit.

“We would like to thank Quicken Loans for their partnership and for providing this opportunity to race AJ in the Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle,” said Roger Penske. “With Penske Corporation, Chevrolet and Quicken Loans all calling Detroit home, this truly is a special event and we are excited to see AJ in action in the Quicken Loans Chevy.”

Allmendinger continues to show his diversity by also competing in NASCAR while he reconnects with his open-wheel heritage. He has raced in four Cup Series events this season for Phoenix Racing in addition to his IndyCar Series starts.

Credit - Penske Racing

Indy 500 - Second Practice Notes & Quotes

AJ Allmendinger of Team Penske made the most of his second day of practice Sunday for the Indianapolis 500.
Allmendinger, the only Team Penske driver to practice in the chilly conditions with temperatures in the 50s at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the six-hour session, had the fifth-fastest lap of the day. His No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet was clocked at 221.279 mph, the best of his 40 laps.

“Another day in the learning process today and we got a couple different things tested in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet that should be helpful as we move on,” said Allmendinger, who noted after the session that 221.279 mph was the fastest he had ever been in a car.

“We did a couple of short runs and a full-tank run so I could see how the car would feel and I am getting more comfortable with it. To a certain degree I also got to see how the car is going to react in traffic and I thought that was really good.”

Allmendinger, who did not participate in the first session of the day, waited until late in the afternoon to begin his practice after the second rookie orientation program ended.

“Obviously the cold conditions are a little different than what we will probably have for the race,” noted Allmendinger. “But to do a race run the car felt pretty good and I’m happy with the progress we made.”

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and teammate Will Power took the day off after participating in Saturday’s first practice session. Sunday’s cold temperatures led to less-than-ideal conditions to prepare for the 500-mile race on May 26th.

Credit - Penske Racing

Indy 500 - First Practice Notes & Quotes

AJ completed his Rookie Orientation Program in just under an hour to get certified for the big race at the end of the month. After a shakedown of the car by teammate Helio Castroneves, AJ took the required laps and then spent the rest of the day practicing something relatively new to him - driving an oval in an open-wheel car.

While AJ has raced several times in a Sprint Cup car at the famed Brickyard, this was his first time making laps in the style of car that he cut his teeth on coming up through the racing ranks. So how did he do? He topped both of his teammates times and ended up 8th overall in practice times during his first day on track. Here are some quotes from the day:

AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): (Does previous experience here help?): "No. No. It just tells me that there are four corners around this racetrack and I have an understanding of what they feel like. Obviously, it's two different race cars. Completely different race cars. The line and just the way the track feels, that I kind of knew, but from there it's a completely different technique of how to get in the corners. You can't hit the brake pedal, and you don't want to lift. Trying to get used to that. The first few laps when I was trying to go wide-open, the right foot was quivering. I had to get the left foot to hold it down and say, 'OK, it's time to get used to this.' It was enjoyable."

AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): "Oh, I'm a rookie. I feel like it out there. I have to admit, the first lap on the racetrack was pretty special going down the back straightaway and thinking about that I was at Indy preparing for the Indy 500, especially being in a Roger Penske race car. For me, it was pretty cool. I was kind of just thinking about that as I was going down the straightaway. Then I realized that corner comes up really quick, so I should start focusing again. All around for me, I thought it was better than expected. I didn't really know what to expect. I was pretty much making myself nervous and stressing myself out thinking about what was going to happen. You know, I really have to thank Helio (Castroneves) a lot, because for him to shake the car down was one thing. But to be there on the headset talking to me before, during and after; that guy's obviously got a wealth of knowledge and experience at this place. For him to take the time out of the day when he could have been working on his own program or just back at the trailer relaxing, it meant a lot to me. I have to thank him a lot for getting me up to speed pretty quick."

Allmendinger leads team Penske through first practice day on Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Team Penske began preparation to chase its record 16th victory in the Indianapolis 500 with strong laps Saturday during the opening day of practice for the 97th of the running of the 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The story of the day for Team Penske was AJ Allmendinger easily passing his rookie orientation program, clearing the way for the driver of the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet to begin practicing for his first open-wheel competition at the legendary Brickyard.

In his first official practice day, Allmendinger paced the three Team Penske entries with a fast lap of 218.967 mph, which placed him eighth overall on the IZOD IndyCar Series timing chart.

“I went down the back straightaway the first lap thinking to myself this is pretty sweet; I’m driving the IZOD Team Penske car on the backstretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Allmendinger, who completed 52 laps within an hour to pass his rookie test.

“I have to thank (Team Penske teammate) Helio (Castroneves) just a ton because his going out there and shaking the car down and just talking to me just made me a lot more calm than I would have been without him.”

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves recorded a fast lap of 217.923 mph in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Dallara/Chevrolet, the 12th-fastest lap of opening day.

The Brazilian driver will attempt to tie the record of four career Indy victories when the famed race gets underway May 26 and he is one of seven drivers to have won Indy three times. A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Team Penske advisor Rick Mears share the record of four victories.

"It felt really good to be back in the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet here at Indy. It's always a special feeling when you take the track for the first time,” said Castroneves, who spent the first practice session shaking down the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevy to prepare for Allmendinger’s rookie orientation.

“We were able to shakedown the No. 2 IZOD car for AJ and do the same for our car which is what we wanted to accomplish. AJ did a great job today, it was really fun being a part of the Rookie Orientation process with him, and I look forward to having him as a teammate here."

Will Power was clocked at 217.595 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet, good for 14th-fastest of the six-hour session. Power, who finished 28th in 2012 after Mike Conway’s car made contact with him, is looking for his first victory at the historic 2.5-mile speedway.

"It was a good opening day for the Verizon team, we were able to shakedown the car and everything feels good,” said Power, who enters the race looking for his first win of 2013. “It's obviously a long couple weeks and we are taking this step by step to be where we need to be for the race."

As has become a Team Penske tradition, Castroneves was first on track Saturday, leaving the pits in Allmendinger’s car at 12:08 p.m. It marked the fourth consecutive year that a Team Penske car was first on track for opening day.

Allmendinger appreciated what the veteran Team Penske driver provided him as he began his first practice session. “It’s meant a lot for him to help me. You know, he could have easily just went and drove the car and said it was fine and walked away and focused on his program," said Allmendinger of Castroneves.

"But he’s here, talking to me. When we are back in the pits and he is showing me, teaching me and just talking to me. My teammates here, Will and Helio, they’ve been amazing since I showed up, and I feel very fortunate to have them.”

Teams will continue practicing each day through Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pole qualifying is scheduled to begin Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. It will be televised live by NBC Sports Network, which also will air a special preview Friday at 3:30 p.m.

ABC’s race broadcast is set to begin at noon on Sunday, May 26.

Credit - Penske Racing