Richard Petty Motorsports' AJ Allemdinger Keeping Options Open

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IFebruary 21, 2009

Normally a driver coming of a top-three finish in the Daytona 500 and sitting third in the championship points standings would not be keeping their options open—but for Richard Petty Motorsports' AJ Allmendinger, he has not choice.

Allmendinger has been the benefactor of bad luck since making the move to NASCAR. Just when things were looking bright for the former Champ Car World Series star at Team Red Bull, he was kicked to the curb to make room for Formula One ace Scott Speed.

Allmendinger was picked up by then Gillett Evernham Motorsports to drive the final five races of 2008 and during the offseason appeared to have the inside track towards a full-time ride.

At one point, it was announced that Allmendinger would replace Elliot Sadler in the No. 19 Dodge at the newly formed Richard Petty Motorsports. After rumors swirled that legal council would be brought in, Sadler was put back behind the wheel of the the No. 19 and Allmendinger again was on the outside looking in.

Then came the news that he would be guaranteed a spot in the first five races based on owner points from 2008—that was before all the "minority ownership" deals arose in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage.

Heading into Daytona, Allmendinger was again on the outside looking in, but raced his way into the 500 after a remarkable run in his Duel race. He used teammates Sadler and Reed Sorenson to maneuver through the field and proved that bygones were bygones.

After qualifying for this weekends Auto Club 500 in California, Allmendinger is still saying he is leaving his options open. RPM has only promised eight to 12 races this season—pending further sponsorship.

When asked if he were interested in a new Charlotte-based Formula One team on the upswing, Allmendinger refused to say "no."

"I've learned in this sport over the past couple of years that you don't deny anything," Allmendinger told reporters Friday. "You just nod your head and say, 'There's a chance.'"

While Allmendinger said he loves being a part of NASCAR, not having a guaranteed full-time ride keeps his intrigue in other leagues.

"I love being a part of NASCAR, going to all of these races and being around the fans and everything," he said.

In response to the question about a possible Formula One ride he said, "It has intrigue, for sure. Driver a race car, no matter what it is, has intrigue for me...but it's not my focus, either."

The new Formula One team is scheduled to formally announce its plan on Tuesday in Charlotte. Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor are the principals in the team.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Danica Patrick has also been rumored for the position. The paper says she told the Associated Press on Friday that she has not been contacted and has no plans to leave IndyCar racing.

"It's funny how these things get going," Patrick said. "But I'm happy driving in the IndyCar Series, I'm happy in North America."