"In the past I might have treated him as a kid but after all these years and all the racing he's done I have confidence that he gets it; he knows what he has to do," Bobby Rahal told reporters at Mid-Ohio this weekend.
Shank wants Allmendinger for IndyCar entry
Michael Shank has confirmed that he wants his friend and business partner AJ Allmendinger to come back to IndyCar in 2013, telling reporters: "I think it's possible he could end up in IndyCar, but I don't know to what degree," adding that "He's said he's interested in doing something here."
Allmendinger is a partner in Shank's MSR Indy venture that tried to field an entry in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Season with Paul Tracy or Jay Howard at the wheel, only to be thwarted by the lack of an engine deal. Shank still hopes to enter the series in 2013 and is currently eyeing Allmendinger's participation.
“I don't think it's impossible, but you've got a couple factors here to deal with.”
The main factor is Allmendinger's current suspension from NASCAR competition after testing positive for stimulants in a random drugs test last month. Allmendinger denies knowingly taking a prohibited substance but had agreed to undergo NASCAR's 'road to recovery' rehabilitation programme.
“He's real passionate about NASCAR. He doesn't want to just go away and feel like he was defeated," said Shank. "He does not want to be that guy."
While there is no formal reason why Allmendinger can't switch to IndyCar, series officials have said that they would not sign off on the involvement of any driver who was undergoing disciplinary action in another motor racing series, so it's likely that Allmendinger would still have to complete his programme and be reinstated by NASCAR before he could be consider for an IndyCar drive.
However, even after he completed the 'road to recovery', Allmendinger's chances of getting another competitive seat in NASCAR look gloomy. That might encourage the 30-year-old Californian to return to open wheel racing where he made his name in the Champ Car World Series in 2004-2006.
AJ Foyt signs Chase Austin for 2013 Indy 500 bid
Racing legend AJ Foyt has confirmed that his team will be fielding a car for Chase Austin at the 2013 Indianapolis 500 next May.
Assuming that it comes off, then the 22-year-old Kansas native would become only the third African-American driver to compete in the 'greatest spectacle in motorsport.' Austin has already competed in the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 support race at Indianapolis, finishing in tenth place earlier this year.
“My son Larry and I have watched Chase drive and we want to give him a chance,” said Foyt. "He's done a real good job in the Lights series, and I believe he can qualify for the Indy 500 with Honda on board."