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Allmendinger unsure of RPM future beyond 2010
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FORT WORTH, TexasAJ Allmendinger says he’s had discussions with management about his future with Richard Petty Motorsports, but no decision has been made for 2011.
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With Kasey Kahne’s defection from RPM at the end of the season, signing Allmedinger, 28, should be at the top CEO Foster Gillett’s to-do list — if he can pull it off.
Allmendinger moved to the team when it was still Gillett Evernham Motorsports in the fall of 2008. Although he’s been pleased with the progress the outfit has made this season, there’s still work to do.
Still, from Allmendinger’s perspective, “morale’s high.”
“It’s only race seven or eight but as long as I do my job and make the sponsors happy, I don’t think I’ll have anything to worry about,” Allmendinger said. “Everything will work out. If you talk to Foster or talk to George (Gillett, team owner), there’s still a lot we have to talk through. But when it comes to sports, there’s the trickle down effect. The first big move was made but no one expected that to start in April.
“We know every weekend we are getting better as a race team. (Crew chief) Mike Shiplett and my whole group on that (No. 43 team) are learning from each other every week, and I think we’re getting better.”
Allmendinger is currently 23rd in the standings. He had a strong run going at the season-opening Daytona 500 until his car was damaged when he spun out on the backstretch. He posted a season best sixth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway and won his first career pole last week at Phoenix International Raceway. After leading 17 laps at PIR, Allmedinger finished 15th.
Foster Gillett is convinced the changes the team made in the offseason by converting to Ford and making the move to the Roush Fenway campus will benefit the organization in the future. Still, the change of manufacturers is often accompanied with growing pains. Currently, Allmendinger’s teammates Paul Menard, Kahne and Elliott Sadler are 15th, 26th and 29th in the championship, respectively.
“I really believe in what we’ve done,” Gillett said. “I believe in the ability of our race team to build and race cars consistently well. With the amount of change in the off-season, going from one manufacturer to another and moving race shops and all that we went through to come out of the box and win the first race of the season, and compete in Daytona the way we did, I think we’ve generally had good race cars at a lot of places.
“We’ve had some bad luck here and there. I think that’s racing, but, from my perspective, we’ve already done that hard work and now it’s about refining the effort and really getting the results and driving them home.”
In the last year, Allmendinger has learned valuable lessons — including patience — from working with “the King” Richard Petty. He has enjoyed the resources the partnership with Roush Fenway Racing and Ford provides to the team and immediately noticed a difference immediately during the transition at the end of last season.
But considering that Allmendinger is just 87 races into his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, there’s a lot for the racer to take into consideration before making his next move.
“It was a tough thing for RPM last year,” Allmendinger said. “The team merged with (Petty), that was a late merger right before Daytona, and that was tough. With just the economy and Dodge, it hurt the team as a whole. Honestly, the Gillett family and the King did so much, because that fourth car, that was only supposed to be a six-to-eight-race thing, and having Hunt Brothers Pizza at that point step up, and Best Buy came on for a couple races and Stanley, and we pieced it together and got through the whole season but there was no secret that that probably hurt the overall organization in trying to run that, because it was a low-budget thing, and they kept me racing.
“I was happy with it, obviously, but it hurt the team. Still, the Gillett family and the King believed in me, and they thought in the long run that it may hurt the team a little bit. Hopefully, I can help them in the long run and make the race team better."
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