AJ Allmendinger says he has prospects for next season, but he’s taking some time to “figure it all out.”
“It’s been a tough couple of years, so take my time and figure it out,” Allmendinger explained. “If there is a plan that God has for me to be in the sport next year, I will be here and if not, I will figure something else out.”
JTG Daugherty Racing announced earlier this week that Allmendinger, who has driven full-time for the team since 2014, would be released at the end of the season. On Friday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway, JTG announced that Ryan Preece will get an opportunity in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with the No. 47 team. Later in the day, Allmendinger qualified second for the inaugural road course race.
“It’s not bittersweet,” Allmendinger said. “I have been very fortunate in my life. They gave me an opportunity to get back into the sport full-time. Yeah, of course, you would like it to end on a better note. We didn’t have the success that we wanted to, but no matter what there is a banner that hangs in that shop, it’s the only one that they have, that says NASCAR Cup Series winner and that can never be taken away.
“We have had a lot of great times, made the playoffs, and you know people change, organizations change, and it is part of the sport. It’s a business. Change can be scary sometimes, but it’s not always a bad thing, and I think it can be a good thing on both ends. So, it is what it is. You know what, we go out there and win Sunday, we are still going in enjoy it as much as whether I had a full-time job with them or not. That is all I can do is go out there and do my best.”
Allmendinger’s first career Cup win in 2014 at Watkins Glen was also the first for JTG Daugherty. To date, it continues to be their only win. Allmendinger also finished a career-best 13th in points that season. Since then, Allmendinger has not finished higher than 19th (2016).
Now jobless, Allmendinger says he has nothing to lose going for the win Sunday afternoon. With his diverse background on road and street courses, Allmendinger will be considered one of the favorites. He is 24th in points going into the event with three top-10 finishes this season courtesy of both Daytona events and the Martinsville short track.
Last year, Allmendinger had a total of five top-10 finishes. In his time with JTG, Allmendinger has two poles, one win, 26 top-10s and six top-five finishes with 168 laps led.
“Nobody likes losing their ride,” Allmendinger said of his emotions. “But the more time I sit and think about it and talk about it with my family, literally a year and a half, it hasn’t been fun. We’ve struggled. It’s hard on everybody. This year I’ve probably been a different person at the racetrack and at home. The possibility of not having a paycheck coming can be scary, but change can also be a very good thing, and I think it will be.”