By admin | December 22, 2011
By Richard Allen
Wednesdayâ€™s announcement by Penske Racing that A.J. Allmendinger has been chosen to replace the departed Kurt Busch in that organizationâ€™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 teamâ€™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.
Donâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 sportâ€™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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