A.J. is getting his big break in 2012.
Multiple media outlets have comfirmed that A.J. Allmendinger will wear the No. 22 for Penske Racing in 2012.
This news comes after Best Buy announced that they were leaving Allmendinger's No. 43 car to sponsor Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards part-time in 2012.
Penske Racing released this statement:
AJ is a very talented and motivated driver and we believe he will be a terrific fit with our team. He has shown great promise and consistent results on the track over the last few seasons and working with Todd and the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team will allow him to take the next step and compete for race wins and a spot in the Chase in 2012.
Said Lisa Davis, President of Shell Oil Products U.S.:
Shell and Pennzoil are extremely pleased by Penske Racing's selection of AJ Allmendinger to drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge. AJ has consistently demonstrated great potential and continuous improvement as a driver, and with Penske's track record, our employees and customers can look forward to seeing him contending for wins and ultimately a championship in the NASCAR Cup Series. We know he will represent our brands well on and off the track and we look forward to a successful 2012 with AJ behind the wheel.
This is the best opportunity A.J. Allmendinger has ever had in NASCAR. He will finally be in a program with top-tier equipment.
Allmendinger has had to fight and claw throughout his NASCAR career trying to make it in the Sprint Cup Series.
A.J. started out with Red Bull racing, who was starting out new in NASCAR as well. Both the team and A.J. struggled to make races with poor equipment.
After he was released by Red Bull, Allmendinger landed with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, which became Richard Petty Motorsports.
He began to improve his abilities and the addition of crew chief Greg Erwin gave Allmendinger a spark and top-10 finishes became a reality.
The No. 43 car finished one position shy of a Chase playoff berth in 2011.
Allmendinger will be in the car that Kurt Busch drove in 2011 to two wins and a spot in the Chase.
Richard Petty Motorsports released this statement.
Richard Petty Motorsports has released AJ Allmendinger to pursue other opportunities within the sport. AJ is a talented driver whom we all enjoyed working with and we wish him the best. Our plan remains to run a two-car team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012 and we are continuing down that path. We believe there are several very talented drivers who are still available and would embrace the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the legendary No. 43 Ford Fusion. We continue to move forward and are optimistic about the future of this race team.
I hope A.J. will have a great season with Penske Racing. I give credit to Roger Penske for giving this kid, who just turned 30, the chance of a lifetime.
With this news, the No. 43 car is now vacant. David Ragan is rumored to be a candidate to take over the ride now that the No. 22 car has its driver for 2012.