Allmendinger green-lighted for Long Beach race

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AJ Allmendinger’s been given the green light for another IndyCar start with Team Penske in two weeks at Long Beach.

Penske Racing president Tim Cindric confirmed the news on Twitter early Saturday morning.

“Pushing the “go” button for @AJDinger for Long Beach!  Trying to give him as much seat time as we can for @IMS,” he wrote.

Allmendinger finished the three pre-qualifying practice sessions in the top 10, and by Saturday morning’s practice was actually quickest of the three Penske entries, seventh to Will Power in 10th and Helio Castroneves in 12th.

Allmendinger explained the differences between a NASCAR and IndyCar weekend in setup and preparation terms on Friday.

“It’s so funny because on the Cup side of it you have set days,” he said. “Friday you work on qualifying, Saturday you work on race set-up and you go race on Sunday. And here obviously the whole time you’re working on speed, but there’s not a lot of time to work on race set-up. So I think it’s just the process of going through this weekend and figuring out how the weekend goes, how we use out tires and what we’re working on.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.