Forsythe: Allmendinger out, Rice in
|By David Malsher||Thursday, October 26th 2006, 16:04 GMT|
AJ Allmendinger's Champ Car career is over, following Jerry Forsythe's decision to replace him with immediate effect.
Allmendinger, who this week confirmed his switch to NASCAR for 2007, will be replaced in the Forsythe Championship Racing team by 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice in the series' finale at Mexico City.
He may be joined by a third Forsythe machine driven by Mexico's Michel Jourdain.
Allmendinger told autosport.com: "I haven't spoken to Jerry since Monday, when I told him I was leaving. But he didn't mention then that I wasn't going to be at Mexico. In fact, I told him I'd love to do it for the No. 7 crew, and go out with a win and show my appreciation for all their hard work for me this year.
"However, it's still two weeks to go before Mexico, so I guess anything could happen. If Surfers was my last Champ Car race, then I'm sad. It wasn't the way I wanted to leave the series. I wanted to go out kicking ass, you know?"
Allmendinger crashed out of last Sunday's race at Surfers Paradise, Australia, confirming Sebastien Bourdais' third Champ Car title in succession.
Allmendinger's runner-up spot in the championship is unlikely to come under threat, given that Justin Wilson, the only man who could beat him to second, is unlikely to race in Mexico City given the wrist injury he suffered Down Under.
Allmendinger's replacement, Rice, has never raced a Champ Car before, but told Robin Miller of SpeedTV: "I just changed phones so this strange number comes up Wednesday morning and I don't answer it but then I play the message and it's Jerry Forsythe and I'm like 'Holy Shit!' I knew what it was about instantly. It's a golden opportunity and I am really excited.
"I think people know that Champ Car was where I thought my career would take me after I won the Atlantic championship [in 2000] but other than a test with Ganassi, nothing ever materialized."
Rice joins Champ Car off the back of two desultory years in IndyCars scoring just a handful of podiums, after finishing third in the 2004 series for Rahal Letterman Racing.
"I haven't forgotten how to drive. I think we're both looking at this as a tryout and I'd like nothing better than to run that new Champ Car next year."