AJ Allmendinger will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup series this weekend in the Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. Allmendinger will be behind the wheel of the No. 51 Guy Roofing Chevrolet in his fifth Sprint Cup Series start with Phoenix Racing, the team announced Tuesday.
Allmendinger’s last start was last November at Texas Motor Speedway with Phoenix Racing. The start was his fourth for the team after his was reinstated by NASCAR following a positive test for a banned substance in July last year. Allmendinger completed NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program and was reinstated in October. The former open wheel driver recently tested an IndyCar series machine with his former Penske Racing team.
"This will be good. It's been a few months since I've been in a stock car. I haven't been in one of the Gen 6 cars yet, so I think it will take a little time to get acclimated to it,” Allmendinger said. “Phoenix International Raceway is a great place for me to get back behind the wheel. I've always enjoyed the race track. It will definitely feel different, but I'll be ready to go.”
Allmendinger has eight previous Cup Series starts at the one-mile oval and has driven to four top-15s and two top-10s. He has started on the front row three times, including one pole, which he captured in 2010.
"It definitely helps to go to a track that I enjoy already,” Allmendinger said. “It's a tough race track, especially with the repave. It starts off so slick when we make our first few laps, then it gains grip. It picks up a ton of grip pretty quickly, then it goes back to being slick for the race. It's definitely a challenging race track. I know the guys will have a good race car ready for the weekend. I was really impressed with their run last week at Daytona. It showed that they're putting together solid equipment and have a good feel for the new car. I think for the first 30 to 45 minutes I'll have to ease into it and get used to the new car, but after that, I'll be up to speed and ready to go.”