Allmendinger wants to be ‘top guy’

by Monte Dutton

AJ Allmendinger hasn’t enjoyed many NASCAR weekends as successful as the one he just completed in Watkins Glen, NY.

The Los Gatos, Calif. native was highly successful in the Champ Car World Series, but the Sprint Cup Series has been a struggle’since he joined Team Red Bull in 2007 and Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009. Allmendinger finished 24th in the 2009 Sprint Cup point standings and currently resides in 22nd place.

Just days after Petty and Foster Gillett of RPM announced that Allmendinger’s contract as driver of the No. 43 Ford has been extended, he celebrated by finishing fourth in the Heluva Good at the Glen. His career best, by the way, was a third in the 2009 Daytona 500.

“We are definitely not where we want to be… right now, but I see the potential and want to keep building a team around me that continues to get better,” said Allmendinger, 28. “We want to reach a point where we compete for a win every weekend and hopefully, eventually, get a championship. That is the goal.”

A championship is certainly a long way off, but Allmendinger doesn’t shy away from the task at hand. He said he talked to other teams, but decided to remain at RPM, in part, because of Kasey Kahne’s departure at season’s end.

Allmendinger wants to be “the guy.” “Yeah, that was a big selling point,” he said. “I am ready to be a leader of this race team. It’s something that I thrive on and excites me every day to know that I can be the guy. I have the confidence in myself to know I can lead this team and represent it to the best of its abilities.”

After finishing fourth at Watkins Glen, Allmendinger said, “The car was really strong all day. We didn’t have anything for the ‘42’[Juan Montoya]. He was on another planet. But for the others [runner-up Kurt Busch and third-place Marcos Ambrose], I felt like maybe we had something for them.

“It was a solid day. It was a good day in the pits. We need to build on this. It’s really cool to sign a multi-year deal and have a great weekend.”

‘ 2010 King Features Syndicate