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Allmendinger runs in Sebring test

AJ Allmendinger has been behind the wheel of an IndyCar for the first time in over six years, driving the #2 Team Penske car in Tuesday's pre-season open test at Sebring.
AJ Allmendinger has been reacquainting himself with an open wheel race car at Sebring International Raceway this week, driving the #2 Penske IndyCar in the first pre-season test session of 2013.

"My heart was beating fast and the first couple of runs the car was definitely driving me," admitted Allmendinger. "It slowly has come back to me. Everything feels real fast."

He was joined in chilly conditions at the Florida test circuit by the other two confirmed Penske drivers Will Power and Helio Castroneves, as well as Ganassi team mates Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Charlie Kimball together with seven other of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers.

"Will and Helio have welcomed me into their race team with open arms and I'm definitely happy to be here," said Allemendinger, who also got to meet IndyCar icon AJ Foyt at the track for the first time. "It was an honour to meet the person I was named after, one of the greatest drivers of all time."

Allmendinger drove in the Champ Car World Series from 2004 until 2007 when he switched to stock car racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. He was competing for Roger Penske's Cup team in 2012 when he failed a random drugs test mid-season and was suspended from competition until he completed the mandatory Road to Recovery program.

Although he was fired from the Penske team, Allmendinger has since returned to NASCAR competition with four races at the end of 2012, and Roger Penske himself has remained supportive throughout and now seems set to back a possible Indianapolis 500 outing for Allmendinger in IndyCar - if the driver can readjust to the open wheel equipment, that is.

"A Cup car has more horsepower, but because of its weight that sensation of speed is a lot different," Allmendinger explained. "When you get an IndyCar on a road course, it feels like it has 1,500 horsepower," he said, adding that an IndyCar was much more physically demanding to drive than a Cup car.

The first step of the process of seeing whether Allmendinger is up to driving in the Indy 500 was to take part in the first track test of 2013, and he posted the 12th fastest time of the 13 drivers in action on Tuesday.

Even so, that was just a creditable 0.6s slower than the fastest man on track on the day, which was Takuma Sato in the #14 AJ Foyt Racing car. Sato's best lap of the day was 51.947s while Allmendinger's best effort was 52.618s, just ahead of Oriol Servia who was slowest of those taking part in an unwieldy-looking Panther-DRR car.




Related Pictures

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Andretti Autosport`s Ryan Hunter-Reay during pre-season testing at Sebring. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Michael Levitt - LAT for IndyCar Media]
Ryan Briscoe in the #2 Penske Chevrolet during pre-season testing at Sebring. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Michael Levitt - LAT for IndyCar Media]
Penske`s AJ Allmendinger at work. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon sprays the champagne in Victory Circle following his win in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon is congratulated by Dario Franchitti after winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon with a victory kiss from his wife, Emma, following clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates his victory in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship, his fourth series championship of his career. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Ernie Masche/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, after winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Joining him on the podium is Charlie Kimball, driver of the #83 Novolog Flexpen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 who finished third. Chevrolet won its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon - 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion - Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates with team mates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates with Chip Ganassi after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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