Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Godspeed, A.J.

At least A.J. Allmendinger went out with a bang. The now former Team Red Bull driver finished his undistinguished two seasons in the No. 84 with a ninth-place finish at Kansas and received a swift kick out the door. The former open-wheel star, who is being replaced by Mike Skinner and Scott Speed, is now looking for a new ride and has garnered some interest.

But two questions come to my mind. Why doesn’t Allmendinger make a return to Indy cars and why is Red Bull hiring another former open-wheel driver in Speed? Haven’t they already learned from their mistake of hiring a rookie not ready for the heavier and less agile stock cars? It amazed me to hear they were replacing a NASCAR novice open-wheeler with, well, another NASCAR novice open-wheeler.

Speed, a former Formula One driver, has raced in 10 Truck races this year and won at Dover. Good, albeit preliminary, results. But the decision to place him in the car should still raise a few red flags. Maybe the rationale was explained by Allmendinger last week when he said decision was made by executives in Red Bull’s corporate headquarters in Austria. Red Bull may give you wings, but it won’t necessarily give you stock car talent.

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