On the eve of his first run in an open-wheel machine since 2006, former Champ Car and NASCAR pilot A.J. Allmendinger is understandably anxious.
Allmendinger will test with Team Penske on Tuesday at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, and if all goes well, he could wind up slated for at least a part-time run in IndyCar this season. In an interview on SPEED's flagship news show, "Speed Center," the California native talked about his emotions going into the test.
“I’m so excited for it — to be back with Mr. Penske and the whole Penske organization," Allmendinger told SPEED's Adam Alexander. "I’m so grateful to have this chance to get in one of his Indy cars. I’m also nervous. It’s been seven years – 2006 was the last time I was in an open-wheel race car. The cars have changed a lot, but I know I’ll have the best team to learn from.”
Indeed, Penske regulars Will Power and Helio Castroneves will be testing as well on Tuesday, and have already helped prepare 'Dinger for the opportunity.
"They’ve already been helping me just kind of go through the race car and learn what it’s about, look at the data, video, notes, so I’ll be well prepared," he said.
As for what might await him in the near-future should Sebring go well, Allmendinger told SPEED that while "you never know with Roger Penske," he hopes to have at least one race under his belt before tackling this year's Indy 500.
Fox Sports' Lee Spencer reported on Feb. 6 that Allmendinger could be heading for his IZOD IndyCar Series debut at Barber Motorsports Park in April if this week's test goes smoothly. Spencer also wrote that with sponsorship help, Allmendinger could hit the grid at Long Beach and the aforementioned '500.'