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“Merry Christmas, A.J. Allmendinger” -signed, Kurt Busch

By admin | December 22, 2011

By Richard Allen


Wednesday’s announcement by Penske Racing that A.J. Allmendinger has been chosen to replace the departed Kurt Busch in that organization’s number 22 Dodge almost certainly made the young driver the big winner so far in the seemingly endless shuffling of personnel by NASCAR Sprint Cup teams this off season.

Allmendinger left Richard Petty Motorsports and its historic number 43 car to assume the controls in the Penske car.

So how does all of this make Allmendinger the big winner? Consider some very important factors.

First, the Penske ride is one of the top cars available in the NASCAR garage area. In 2011, Busch qualified for the Chase for the Championship in that car while scoring two wins, sixteen top-10s and three poles. There are very few rides capable of posting those type of numbers that ever come available.

And also factor in the way the ride became available. Busch was still under contract with Penske and seemingly set to continue as the team’s pilot for the 2012 campaign until a series of bad behavior incidents by Busch eventual caused a parting of ways between the volatile driver and his team. That series of somewhat unpredictable events, in turn, left Penske with little time or flexibility for maneuvering to land one of the top tier drivers.

Don’t misunderstand that I believe Allmendinger is a talented driver and his improvement during his time in the Sprint Cup ranks has been impressive. However, when a ride such as the 22 car comes available, it is typically drivers with multiple race wins and championship credentials who are considered first followed by drivers who have been groomed by that particular team through a lower series or other forms of racing.

It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to say that a driver with no race wins who has never qualified for the Chase would not have been considered a favorite for the ride had it come open under more normal circumstances.

And more for Allmendinger, he is leaving a situation that was filled with uncertainty to take a spot with one of the sport’s premier organizations. RPM has just recently learned that their primary sponsor from a year ago, Best Buy, is departing to take up space on the quarter panels of cars from the Roush Fenway Racing stables.

In the end, it seems as if A.J. Allmendinger came away with a pretty nice Christmas present that he probably would not have received had it not been for the bad behavior of Kurt Busch.

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Topics: Articles |

4 Responses to ““Merry Christmas, A.J. Allmendinger” -signed, Kurt Busch”

  1. Kenny Powers Says:
    December 22nd, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Too bad Mark Martin as a ride for 2012. It would be really cool to see Mark drive the 43.

  2. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    December 22nd, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Man, I am ticked to no end that King Richard should have made up his own mind sooner and try to go about his 2012 Plans in a more timelier matter as I was rooting on the Ex-00 or Ragan to race the 22 and I feel that I am critically bummed,Rich, as that’s just Rich!

  3. Offkilter Says:
    December 22nd, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Go Dinger

  4. Russ Says:
    December 23rd, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Looks like AJ got out before it was too late. Since these things happen overnight, the lawyers have to cross all the tee, and dot all the i’s after all. Wonder how long RPM has known that Best Buy was leaving? Or, was it just a conference call with RFR. The old “you need to take one for the team” call.