AJ Allmendinger revels in Penske IndyCar test

AJ Allmendinger returned to the wheel of a single-seater for the first time in more than six years on Tuesday when he joined Penske for the IndyCar test at Sebring

AJ Allmendinger revels in Penske IndyCar test

Allmendinger was a five-time race winner in Champ Car before switching to stock cars in late 2006, although he was suspended by NASCAR and released by Penske Racing after testing positive for a banned substance last summer.

Having completed the Road to Recovery programme, he was reinstated in September, and invited to test with Penske with a view to potentially racing the team's third car at Barber Motorsports Park and the Indianapolis 500.

The 31-year-old admitted that he had a lot of work to do in readapting to the requirements of the car after spending so long in the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

"My heart was beating fast and [in] the first couple of runs the car was definitely driving me," said Allmendinger, who was 12th fastest on unofficial timing, 0.7 seconds off the pace.

"It slowly has come back to me. Everything feels real fast. A Cup car has more horsepower, but because of its weight that sensation of speed is a lot different. When you get an IndyCar on a road course, it feels like it has 1500 horsepower."

Allmendinger said that he had been made to feel welcome by the team's full-time drivers Will Power and Helio Castroneves, and paid tribute to team owner Roger Penske for giving him a second chance.

"Will and Helio have welcomed me into their race team with open arms and I'm definitely happy to be here," he said.

"I'd love for it to lead to some races, especially Indy. I'm so grateful to the organisation for giving me this opportunity.

"After what I went through last year, to have Roger ask me to come here and drive one of his race cars... 'happy' is an understatement.

"In this process, I've learned a lot about myself and how to be a better person. All I can do is take care of myself and the things you can control.

"Waiting [for a call to race] doesn't matter. I'm just going to be ready physically and mentally for when they do call."

Allmendinger's last IndyCar outing came in the Surfers Paradise Champ Car race in 2006.

See more pictures from the Sebring IndyCar test in AUTOSPORT's news gallery

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