Thursday, September 25, 2008
Allmendinger expects race to be last in 84
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- AJ Allmendinger expects this weekend's race at Kansas Speedway to be his last with Red Bull Racing.
Allmendinger and Red Bull announced earlier this week they will part ways at the end of this season, and Allmendinger did not drive the No. 84 during the two-day test at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I'm racing this weekend at Kansas, but I'm almost 100 percent sure I won't be with Red Bull after this race," Allmendinger said in his biweekly diary for Yahoo. "Hopefully I'll have something and I'll be in a car next week. Whether it's the team I'm going to be with for next year, and we can start working on that, or what ... that's kind of where we stand."
Red Bull general manager Jay Frye said Thursday he expects to know at the start of next week what the No. 84 team will do for the remaining seven races this season.
Allmendinger said he expected to be released from Red Bull the past month, and even though he wanted to stay with the team, he passed on an opportunity to sign a one-year contract extension to stay with the team because it would have put him in the same position this time next year.
He also said he's talked with several team owners, including Chip Ganassi about the vacant No. 41 seat, as well as IndyCar teams.
"Personally, though, I want to stay in NASCAR. I've worked too hard to learn these cars," he said. "The hardest thing I've ever had to do in my career, personally and mentally, is to fight and claw my way into this sport and to go through all that and say, 'You know what, I had two years. I'm going to leave.'
"I'm not ready to do that. I've got too much to accomplish."
Allmendinger left the now-defunct Champ Car Series to move to NASCAR two years ago, and Red Bull gave him a Cup ride even though he had not yet mastered the heavier stock cars. He's had a rough two seasons, missing numerous races last year as both he and Red Bull figured out NASCAR, but has shown steady improvement the second half of this year.
He made no mention of former Formula One driver Scott Speed, who is expected to replace Allmendinger next season. Speed has been in the Red Bull program for years, and the Austria-based executives have spent considerable money developing his career.
"I had a lot of good things happen to me because of Red Bull," he said. "I'm where I'm at now because of Red Bull. Sure I'm disappointed, but I can also look at it and say if it weren't for some of the decisions they made, I wouldn't have anybody calling me looking for another ride."