A.J. Allmendinger will strap back into a stock car this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
The California native tested an IndyCar for Team Penske at Sebring International Raceway last week, and may be up for at least a part-time run this season for the IZOD IndyCar Series powerhouse. But on Sunday, he’ll be driving the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet in the Subway Fresh Fit 500k at PIR.
It’s the first of four NASCAR Sprint Cup events that Allmendinger will compete in for Phoenix Racing. He’ll also run at Bristol Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.) next month, as well as at Martinsville Speedway in April.
“This will be good,” Allmendinger said in a team release. “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. 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.”
After Allmendinger was suspended and subsequently released from his drive at Penske Racing last summer due to failing a drug test, he joined up with Phoenix Racing following his completion of NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program (he was reinstated by NASCAR in mid-September). The former Champ Car standout drove in four of the final six Sprint Cup events of 2012 for the James Finch-led operation.
He has made eight Sprint Cup starts at PIR, with one pole and two top-10 finishes to his credit.
As for Allmendinger’s potential open-wheel duties, he may return for next month’s IndyCar “Spring Training” test sessions at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.
“That’s our goal,” Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said last week to SPEEDTV.com’s Marshall Pruett. “Our goal is to try and put that together. We’re probably a week or two away from knowing whether that’s reality or not. That’s where we’d like to see him next.”
Three weeks after announcing his retirement from motorsport, Johnny Cecotto Jr. will return to racing this weekend at the GP2 round in Sochi, Russia.
Cecotto said on Twitter that “today my career ends” on September 17, announcing that he had lost his backing provided by the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
However, the GP2 veteran will return to racing this weekend with Trident, having last raced for the Italian team at Monza one month ago. He will partner Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello once again.
Cecotto’s return is just one of a number of driver/team stories heading into the GP2 race weekend at Sochi:
- American driver Alexander Rossi returns to GP2 with Racing Engineering this weekend following his two-race stint in F1 with Manor. He will also take part in grands prix in the USA, Mexico and Brazil before returning to GP2 once again in Abu Dhabi.
- Julian Leal has announced his retirement from GP2, and is replaced by debutant Dean Stoneman at Carlin. Stoneman won at Sochi in GP3 last year en route to second place in the championship.S
- Sean Gelael will race for Carlin once again, having missed the round at Monza due to a Formula Renault 3.5 clash.
- Nicholas Latifi returns to GP2 this weekend with MP Motorsport, racing alongside Rene Binder.
- Nathanael Berthon also returns, racing for Team Lazarus.
- Hilmer Motorsport will miss the round in Sochi altogether, reducing the grid down to 24 cars.
The FIA Formula E Championship will add Hong Kong to its calendar for its third season, 2016-2017.
The race will take place on October 9, 2016 – exactly one year from now – around the city’s Central district. The 2km circuit will run between Lung Wo Road and the Star Ferry, with cars reaching speeds of up to 225kph (140mph).
The launch event today featured the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Honourable CY Leung; Mr. Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development; Mr. Alejandro Agag, CEO, Formula E Holdings; Mr. Lawrence Yu Kam-Kee, President of the Hong Kong Automobile Association; and reigining FE champion Nelson Piquet Jr.
“The Hong Kong ePrix will be one of the highlights on the FIA Formula E Championship calendar,” Agag said in a release. “As one of the most innovative, cutting-edge and fun-loving cities in the world, Hong Kong and Formula E share many of the same qualities. We look forward to bringing all the fun and entertainment of Formula E to this amazing city, and international motorsport back to Hong Kong.”
The track map is linked below.