Penske had previously announced that their former Nationwide Series crew chief Todd Gordon had been selected to replace Steve Addington as the crew chief on the #22 car. Addington left Penske to join Stewart-Haas Racing following the end of the season.
"Working with Todd and the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team will allow [AJ] to take the next step and compete for race wins and a spot in the Chase in 2012," said Penske.
The news of Allmendinger's move to Penske followed Tuesday's announcement that Richard Petty Motorsports had lost their sponsorship from Best Buy for the #43 car. The electrical retailer has instead decided to become the primary sponsor of Matt Kenseth's #17 car for nine races as well as primary sponsor for the #99 of Carl Edwards for a further two races in 2012. In addition, Best Buy will serve as an associate sponsor for each car during the season.
"We are extremely pleased to announce this partnership with Best Buy," said Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush about the news. "We feel it is a great fit with our organization and we look forward to a great partnership together."
Roush Fenway needed to sign additional sponsor after losing the full-season backing of whisky brand Crown Royal from Kenseth's car. The organisation still needs to find additional sponsorship for Kenseth for the remaining 27 races of the 2012 Cup season.
Addressing the loss of the Best Buy backing, Richard Petty himself said in a statement that it was "very disappointing that Best Buy is changing directions at this late date, [but] we wish all of our friends there the best in their future endeavours."
Petty had indicated on Tuesday that despite the disappointing news about Best Buy, he still hoped that RPM would continue to be a two-car team in 2012 and would still be fielding the #43 car. However, Wednesday's news that Allmendinger had been released from his contract and was departing for Penske may indicate that this might not prove to be feasible, although the team was quick to say that they were still considering all their options.
“Richard Petty Motorsports has released AJ Allmendinger to pursue other opportunities within the sport,” team Chief Executive Officer Brian Moffitt said in a statement. “AJ is a talented driver whom we all enjoyed working with and we wish him the best.”
“Our plan remains to run a two-car team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012 and we are continuing down that path,” Moffitt added. “We believe there are several very talented drivers who are still available and would embrace the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the legendary #43 Ford Fusion. We continue to move forward and are optimistic about the future of this race team.”
Rumours last week that RPM were courting Kurt Busch to take the wheel of the #43 were based on the assumption that the team were trying to persuade Best Buy to stay with the team by offering them a former Cup championship winner driving for their brand. With Best Buy's defection, RPM may not have the necessary funds or motivation to continue with a serious approach to Busch.