Allmendinger to drive NASCAR for Toyota

Can you say, "Show me the money?" Champ Car's Rookie-of-the year in 2005 and currently second in championship points with only one race remaining, A.J. Allmendinger (shown at right with commemorative glass guitar after winning Cleveland's Champ Car race back in June) has signed a multi-year deal to drive the #87 Toyota Camry for Red Bull Racing in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in 2007.

Why are open wheel superstars suddenly jumping ship into NASCAR, besides the dollar and cents? Could it be built up road rage from the sometimes-too-timid open wheel arena?

Juan-Pablo Montoya traded cars for a day at Indy with Jeff Gordon to make some good TV and ended up signing a contract with Chip Ganassi to run first an ARCA car, then a Busch car and ultimately for 2007, a full-time Nextel Cup car. Jaques Villeneuve has also reportedly signed up wish ROUSH to run a car in the Busche leagues after losing his F1 ride with BMW-Sauber. Now, A.J. Allmendinger will make the jump to Nextel Cup after running a couple of NASCAR Craftsman Series truck races earlier this season. Of course, Allmendinger is a 23-year-old American-born racer, so the jump to NASCAR isn't quite as large a leap perhaps than the one Colombian-born Montoya is taking.

These guys are sure in a hurry, too. Bill Elliott has stepped aside to let Allmendinger run the Red Bull Nextel Cup entry in the next two races at Texas and Atlanta, two of the series' fastest tracks.

Thanks to Josh for the tip!


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