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Allmendinger set to join Team Red Bull for 2007



Published: Wed, October 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Champ Car driver is the latest open-wheel defector to the circuit.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- A.J. Allmendinger became the latest open-wheel defector Tuesday when the Champ Car driver signed a deal to drive for Team Red Bull in NASCAR.

The 25-year-old Allmendinger signed a multi-year deal to drive the No. 84 Camry, completing a lineup that already includes 23-year-old Brian Vickers, who announced in June he was joining the team.

"A.J. has the talent, guts and ambition to be successful in any form of motorsports," TRB general manager Marty Gaunt said. "He has proven to be one of America's top young race car drivers in open-wheel racing, and we are confident he can accomplish the same in stock car racing over time."

A former Toyota Atlantic champion and former Champ Car rookie of the year, Allmendinger kick-started his career earlier this season when he was fired by the RuSport team. He was snapped up within days by Forsythe Championship Racing and scored his first career victory that weekend.

Five wins this season

He went on to win three straight, and five overall this season, and is currently second in the Champ Car standings with one race remaining.

"I'm really excited about this next challenge in my racing career," Allmendinger said. "To race against some of the best drivers in the world in front of fans that are as enthusiastic about racing as I am is going to be a pretty big thrill."

Allmendinger began exploring his options in NASCAR late this summer, and ran two Truck Series events for Bill Davis Racing. He finished 13th in New Hampshire in September and was fifth earlier this month at Talladega.

Red Bull officials kept tabs on his efforts, then chose him to join Vickers as the fresh faces of their upstart organization. The team also hired crew chief Rick Viers, who guided Allmendinger during the two truck races.

TRB is one of three teams that will field Toyotas next season in the automaker's debut, but TRB is the only one starting from scratch.

"I know this is going to be a lot of work in the upcoming months, but I couldn't be happier to do it with Team Red Bull," Allmendinger said.

Blow to Champ Car series

Allmendinger's move to NASCAR was a blow to the struggling Champ Car series. He was not only one of the budding stars of the open-wheel series, but also its only American driver. Team owner Jerry Forsythe had offered Allmendinger a multiyear contract extension with a sizable raise and options, but the youngster reportedly got considerably more guaranteed money for the move to Team Red Bull.

TRB hopes to give Allmendinger his Nextel Cup debut Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but was awaiting NASCAR approval because Allmendinger never has competed on a superspeedway before.

TRB hopes to give Allmendinger his Nextel Cup debut Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but was awaiting NASCAR approval because Allmendinger never has competed on a superspeedway before.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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