A.J. Allmendinger Driver Bio
January 24, 2012 , AUBURN HILLS, Mich.
- AJ Allmendinger got his first taste for speed in his home state of California, a place synonymous for spitting out fast racers in four-wheeled disciplines. His dad raced midget and sprint cars, so a life behind the wheel was inevitable. "Almost from birth, I've been at the track every weekend," Allmendinger explains. "I loved racing, and I grew to be part of it. It's a passion."
Allmendinger delivered blistering drives early on in his racing career, earning two International Karting Federation Grand National championships. In 2000, his performance in the Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow program earned a Champ Car test with Team Rahal. Then Allmendinger won the Barber Champ Car Karting Scholarship to participate in the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship Series. He finished as vice-champion for the season and immediately ascended to the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series - claiming six race wins, Rookie-of-the-Year honors, and the championship.
The youngster's talent was reconfirmed in 2003 in the Toyota Atlantic series. In his greenhorn year, he shattered track records and logged eight poles and eight victories en route to the championship title. The 21-year old captured the Atlantic series record for most wins in a single season by a rookie, and became the second-youngest driver ever to win the championship.
In 2004, AJ graduated into the big leagues - the Champ Car World Series - earning five Top-Five finishes including two podiums and rookie of the year honors. His 2005 season was again marked by standout performances including six Top-Five finishes, four of which were podiums. After a mid-year Champ Car shakeup in 2006, Allmendinger helped his new team become regulars in victory lane, amassing five wins and a runner-up position for the series' championship.
Rumors of AJ's flirtation with the NASCAR world ran rampant mid-season of 2006. By October, Allmendinger had announced a two-race stint in the NASCAR Truck Series. His stellar performance prompted an invitation to join Team Red Bull's 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup effort, and ended with Allmendinger signing on the dotted line to race the No. 84.
After two years behind the wheel of the No. 84, Allmendinger joined Richard Petty Motorsports driving the No. 10 Dodge for the final five races of the 2008 season. In the brief time together, AJ turned in some impressive performances. He scored the 14th most points of any driver in those races.
Allmendinger continued his success in NASCAR's top series in 2009 with Richard Petty Motorsports. He collected one Top-Five and six Top-10 finishes. In the final three races of the season, Ford Racing came aboard the No. 43 with AJ as pilot. In an impressive run, Allmendinger scored two Top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway and a 13th-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway.
2010 was a breakout year for the young driver. Allmendinger earned his first career NASCAR pole position at Phoenix in just the seventh event of the season. In addition, the No. 43 team posted its first Top-Five finish together when it scored a fourth-place finish on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. In all, Allmendinger and his Richard Petty Motorsports crew worked together to earn two Top-Five and eight Top-10 efforts in 2010.
Allmendinger had an impressive start to the 2011 season, scoring an 11th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, followed by a ninth-place finish the next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. He also scored a Top-Five finish at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the only 600-mile event of the season.
Allmendinger joined forces with race-winning Crew Chief Greg Erwin at the end of July and during their 17 races together, the pair earned six Top-10 and 11 Top-15 finishes, including four consecutive Top-15 efforts to close out the season. He barely missed making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, finishing inside the Top-15 in the driver point standings for the first time in his Cup Series career. Overall AJ scored one Top-5 and 10 Top-10 finishes in 2011.