Allmendinger feels at home at InfineonJune 13, 2007
When NASCAR makes its only 2007 Northern California stop at Infineon Raceway on June 22-24, rookie A.J. Allmendinger of Hollister will be returning to his road-course roots.
Last year, Allmendinger, 26, stunned open-wheel racing by getting fired, rehired and then winning five Champ Car World Series races, which runs only road or street courses.
In what will be the closest thing to a home race in the 36-event series, NASCAR's Toyota/Save Mart 350 Nextel Cup Series is one of only two road courses in the oval-dominated series.
In other words, Allmendinger, whose debut midway through the tin-top series schedule has been unspectacular, qualifying in only six events to date with the highest finish of 31st, may now, be in his element.
Consider his recent two-day test session at the Sonoma County track west of Vallejo. It was Allmendinger's first chance to drive a stock car on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile elevation-changing masterpiece, where he hopes to make his first start later this month.
Allmendinger's only previous experience at Infineon Raceway came when he raced a go-kart on the road course many years ago.
Allmendinger, who drives the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota, completed more than 100 laps over the two days behind the wheel of a late-model stock car. He was coached by road-course specialist Chris Cook and Tim Fedewa, his full-time spotter on the NASCAR circuit.
"Just learning the track will put me much farther ahead of where I would've been," Allmendinger said. "Having only 90 minutes to practice before qualifying on Friday, I never would have made the show. Now, I feel like I've got a pretty good chance."
The Salinas Californian