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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)
Will Power celebrates with his team after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his team owner Roger Penske after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his wife Liz after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Team Chevy sweeps the podium as Tony Kanaan (center), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Saturday, August 30, 2014, during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Teammate Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes second, and Ed Carpenter, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes third. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg EllmanLAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship by posing with the Astor Challenge Cup Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship by hoisting the Astor Challenge Cup Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship by kissing the Astor Challenge Cup Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship with his wife Liz Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves and Tim Cindric come together after a valiant effort in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Confetti falls on the podium trio Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter celebrate after the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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