AJ Allmendinger’s month of June – like his last year – has been a roller coaster ride.
But if at the start of the month it seemed out of control with double first lap retirements in an IndyCar at Detroit, on Saturday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., Allmendinger firmly reined in the train.
The most important of Allmendinger’s NASCAR Nationwide Series win? He’s finally put himself on a poster in the legendary halls of the Penske Racing facility, and repaid Roger Penske’s trust and belief in his ability.
“What Roger’s done for me, personally, it has meant a lot more,” Allmendinger said after the race. “After everything happened last year, he was making sure I was OK. He’s got so much going on. He kept checking up on me. I didn’t expect anything from it. It was nice to have a friend, someone to bounce ideas off of. Once the IndyCar thing for Indy got going, it was a surprise. But it was a bit of motivation to be focused.”
Allmendinger would not be denied Saturday. He had the pace all weekend but had to withstand pressure on several late-race restarts.
“The restarts started to frustrate me, but Jeremy (Bullins, crew chief) was good at calming me down,” he said.
“My confidence came from beating some guys in golf,” he deadpanned.
In that golf outing, Allmendinger didn’t hit any balls into the ocean. But his win is truly Penske material.
Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost hopes to see sacked driver Daniil Kvyat return to Formula 1 in the near future, saying the Russian “deserves” a place on the grid.
Toro Rosso dropped Kvyat twice through the 2017 season due to poor form, with his final dismissal coming after the United States Grand Prix in October.
Kvyat is no longer part of Red Bull’s motorsport program and is exploring options both inside and outside of F1 for 2018, and Tost feels he could be energized by some time away before returning.
“I am still convinced that Daniil has a very high natural speed. He was sometimes even faster than Daniel Riccardo, but somehow last year and this year he couldn’t show the potential that is within him,” Tost told the official F1 website.
“He was involved in many incidents, but in his defence I also have to say that he had many reliability issues and that didn’t help build up confidence. Being the victim of too many incidents killed the performance he would have been able to show.
“Maybe a short break – to get organized again – and probably we will see Daniil back at his usual performance level with another team.
“Sometimes he was too aggressive at the beginning of the race. The first corner was his weak point. He wanted too much in the first hundred meters – success by any means!
“That puts you under pressure – unnecessary pressure – and that never works.
“I hope for him that he gets another chance, as I think he deserves to be in F1.”