DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season hasn’t even started yet and AJ Allmendinger is already turning competitive laps at Daytona International Speedway.
For the second straight year, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star is participating in Daytona KartWeek, which showcases hundreds of karters from across the country in World Karting Association races.
“We’ve had three off weekends now so I’m bored,” said Allmendinger, who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports. “I had to get away from the house. It’s time to go racing. As soon as Christmas is over, it’s time to go racing.”
Two different courses showcase two different series during Daytona KartWeek – the George Kugler/Bridgestone Manufacturer’s Cup Series that competes on the sprint track located in Turns 3 and 4 and the Dirt World Championships on the quarter-mile dirt track outside Turns 1 and 2.
Daytona KartWeek is the beginning of what will be a two-month stretch of events for Allmendinger at the “World Center of Racing.”
“I think I might buy a condo or something here in Daytona,” Allmendinger joked. “I just love karting. I love competing. I use to be really good at it and I’m not so good at anymore and now I need to get better at it again. I feel fortunate enough being a Sprint Cup driver and doing something that I love to do every Sunday that I have the opportunity to have the equipment and have fun again and enjoy it.”
Allmendinger didn’t enjoy last year’s Daytona KartWeek as much as he wanted. He struggled on the track and packed up early and headed back home to North Carolina. This year, he comes ready for what is a competitive field that also includes 2010 Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray.
He recently switched over to Arrows go-karts and he has longtime friend Tim Pappas, who Allmendinger worked with at Paul Tracy Karting, assisting him in the garage.
“We’re better but we’re still not where we want to be,” Allmendinger said. “There are some fast kids here. Last year, we were so out in left field. I wasn’t even competitive. It wasn’t even fun. At least I feel like we’re in the ball game to where we can have some fun racing against some fast guys and at least contend for a decent spot. We still have work to do.”
As Allmendinger has been racing on his kart, he was also able to see the new racing surface around the legendary 2.5-mile tri-oval. He will get his first laps on the new asphalt during NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing on Jan. 20-22.
“It looks smooth,” Allmendinger said. “I’ve heard great reviews about it. It looks really cool. I read about the testing. It looks like it’s going to be a hell of a race. It’s basically going to be Talladega but a lot narrower. We’re going to still think we can go five wide but I don’t think it really holds that. Everybody that I’ve talked said it’s so smooth and it’s going to be a great race. I look forward to Jan. 20 and we can get to go test.”
Tickets for Daytona KartWeek can be purchased at Ticket Booth E located above the Turn 1 tunnel.