Allmendinger back for Penske at Fontana (UPDATED)

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AJ Allmendinger will race for Team Penske in the IZOD IndyCar Series finale – and with sponsor IZOD, which had backed him earlier this year.

“I’m looking forward to racing the IZOD Chevy in the IndyCar season finale,” Allmendinger said in a team statement. “It’s always a great opportunity to compete for Team Penske and I had great time and a solid result racing the IZOD car in the last 500-mile race back in May at the Indianapolis 500. Hopefully, we can close out the season with another good finish for Team Penske and for Chevrolet.”

The ‘Dinger, who has made five prior starts this year (Barber, Long Beach, Indianapolis, Detroit doubleheader), will put his Penske Racing winning streak on the line in the No. 2 IZOD Chevrolet as a third entry alongside Helio Castroneves and Will Power.

Shell confirmed the move via its Twitter page: “Looking forward to seeing @AJDinger back in the No. 2 @penskeracing #IndyCar at @ACSupdates !!” as did Penske Racing president Tim Cindric: “@AJDinger are you ready to put your @penskeracing winning streak on the line @ACSupdates ??”

Castroneves lost his points lead in Houston and now trails Scott Dixon by 25 points entering the MAVTV 500 on October 19 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Allmendinger starred in his Indianapolis 500 debut, leading 23 laps and finishing seventh. But his most recent IndyCar outing was a disaster in Detroit, with two first-lap crashes on back-to-back days. Adding insult to injury, he was driving a car sponsored by Quicken Loans in a race where that was also promoted by Penske, and sponsored by Quicken Loans.

But he’s redeemed himself with wins in his last two starts for Penske in the NASCAR Nationwide ranks. He won at Road America in June and Mid-Ohio in August.

Now, he’ll play gunner to Castroneves and Power for 500 miles on October 19.

UPDATED: Allmendinger’s sponsor will be IZOD, not Shell/Pennzoil as originally stated.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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