Devastation. That’s the only word to describe the weekend in Detroit for Roger Penske’s open-wheel reclamation project, AJ Allmendinger.
Allmendinger starred in his Indianapolis 500 debut, but a week later on the streets of The Raceway on Belle Isle, Allmendinger may have had his worst ever weekend as a professional driver.
Attempting to thread the needle between Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson on the first lap on Saturday ended with Allmendinger instead going airborne, launching over Dixon’s rear wheel guard and into the concrete barrier at Turn 4.
Sunday was worse. With a sore thumb after the first incident, Allmendinger, in a backup car, got loose on exit of the left-handed Turn 2 and smacked the wall. That ended the race on the first lap for the second day running.
Allmendinger had the extra pressure of running the No. 2 Quicken Loans-sponsored Chevrolet for Penske. His owner promoted the race, and his sponsor was the presenting race sponsor.
“I can’t say sorry enough to @penskeracing and @quickenloans for this weekend… my mistakes are embarrassing and that is an understatement,” Allmendinger wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “I’m grateful for Roger and @penskeracing for their trust and support of me. I never want to repay them like this. Sorry to all my crew guys for making them work so hard for nothing. I’m so sorry. Not sure where to go from here. Feel like I just need to get away for a few weeks.
“Thank you to my family, friends and fans for the support and kind words. @detroitgp was a great event. Nothing more I can say. Also a congrats to my teammate @h3lio being tied for the points lead and sorry for @12WillPower he had an awesome drive till he was wrecked.”
Allmendinger doesn’t have any more scheduled open-wheel starts for Penske. Besides Indianapolis, he also raced at Barber and Long Beach earlier this year. They marked his first open-wheel races since 2006.
On Saturday, Penske announced he’d run Allmendinger in a handful of NASCAR Nationwide Series road course events.