The last time AJ Allmendinger raced in open-wheel racing, Champ Car in 2006, it and the IndyCar Series were two fragmented factions.
Allmendinger won five races but admitted although some competitors from that year are still in the 2013 IndyCar field, it’s a much tougher mountain to climb this time around.
“It’s been tough, and especially in the IZOD IndyCar Series, there’s no hacks out there,” Allmendinger said Tuesday in a conference call. “The two series were split, so you had some of the best drivers split amongst two series, and now that it’s one series and everybody in the series is so fast, it’s competitive.”
By his own goals and standards, Allmendinger isn’t yet satisfied with his performance, but embraces the learning and the challenge.
“I enjoy the challenge. I’m having fun with it,” he said. “I went to Barber and felt pretty good. I was kind of inside the top 10 all weekend in speed, through practices and in the race. I’m getting closer but still have a ways to go.”
He’s been a valuable addition to the Team Penske IndyCar fold. Teammate Will Power, who raced against Allmendinger in Champ Car, appreciates his presence.
“It was fun, man,” Power told MotorSports Talk in an interview. “He’s got a great attitude, honestly. He’s blindingly quick. He did the fastest lap of the Penske guys all weekend in qualifying I think. He’s on it still, battling with (Justin) Wilson. He definitely enjoys it. His attitude and energy is there, and he’s quick at the same time. He’s dedicated, loves to be competitive, and he’s been good.