- Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 18:21
- Published on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 18:21
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The new NASCAR Sprint Cup season hasn’t even started yet and A. J. Allmendinger is already turning competitive laps at Daytona International Speedway.
For the second straight year the Sprint Cup series driver 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 Manufacturers 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 said. “I just love karting. I love competing. I used to be really good at it, and I’m not so good anymore. I need to get better again. I feel fortunate 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 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 winner Jamie McMurray.
He recently switched over to Arrows go-karts and he has longtime friend Tim Pappas, whom Allmendinger worked with at Paul Tracy Karting, assisting in the garage.
“We’re better, but were still not where we want to be,” Allmendinger said. “There are some fast kids here. Last year, we wee 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 of the 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 in Cup car during NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing 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 he 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 with said it’s so smooth and it’s going to be a great race. I look forward to Jan. 20.
Former open wheel racecar driver-turned-broadcaster Scott Goodyear was on hand assisting his 14-year-old son Michael who is competing in the George Kugler/Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series.
Speaking of his son’s budding racing career, Goodyear said, “After trying stick and ball sports, Michael visited a go-kart track and caught the racing bug. He’s been racing for the past three years and is competing in the Yamaha Jr. Lite class.
While his son is making gains on the racetrack, Goodyear is finding himself a little behind in the garage when it comes to karts. He said it’s been about 30 years since he has played with go-karts, and technology has changed dramatically.