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Californian A.J. Allmendinger to drive for Penske in Indy 500

March 08, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • A.J. Allmendinger was hired to drive in two IndyCar races.
A.J. Allmendinger was hired to drive in two IndyCar races. (John Bazemore / Associated…)

Continuing his racing rebound after a failed drug test, A.J. Allmendinger was hired to drive in two IndyCar races for Team Penske this year, including the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

Penske announced Friday that Allmendinger, a 31-year-old Los Gatos, Calif., native, also would drive April 7 in the IndyCar race at the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Ala.

The move "means more than anything I could have imagined," Allmendinger said at a news conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I'm ready to go."

Penske's other IndyCar drivers are three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Australian Will Power.

Allmendinger formerly raced open-wheel cars in the old Champ Car World Series from 2004 to '06, then switched to NASCAR stock-car racing.

After driving 17 races last year for Penske's NASCAR team, Allmendinger failed a random drug test and was suspended for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy.

Allmendinger later told ESPN that he took a pill that, unknown to him, included Adderall, which contains an amphetamine.

He then completed NASCAR's Road to Recovery program and returned to drive in four Sprint Cup races at the end of last season. Allmendinger is driving part time in NASCAR again this season; he finished 11th last Sunday in the Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.

As for racing in the Indy 500, Allmendinger said he was grateful for support he's received from other IndyCar drivers because "when you're racing against people at over 200 mph, those are the ones that have to trust you."

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