Silly Season claims yet another driver. On Tuesday, JTG Daugherty Racing announced longtime driver A.J. Allmendinger will not return to the team for the 2019 season.
“A.J. Allmendinger has been a valuable asset to the growth of our company and we are grateful for his professionalism with our brands and the passion he has shown for this race team over the years,” team owner Tad Geschickter stated in a press release. “As hard as it may be, we’re moving in a different direction for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and will be parting ways at the end of this season. It’s not an easy decision and change is never easy. We wish him the very best in his endeavors and he will always be family to us.”
Allmendinger has been with JTG since the mid-2013 season, winning his and the team’s first Cup race at Watkins Glen International in 2014. In 181 races in JTG’s #47 car, he has a win, six top fives, 26 top tens, two poles, and a best points finish of thirteenth in 2014. So far in 2018, he has three top tens with a best race finish of third at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. He is currently twenty-fourth in points.
His plans for 2019 have not been announced. A decorated open-wheel veteran and road course racer, potential options include competing full-time in sports cars; in February, he finished second overall in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with Michael Shank Racing. Shank tweeted, “Besides being one of my best friends @AJDinger is one of the best racing drivers in any type of car,period…Not to mention he literally is one of the founding corner stones of @MichaelShankRac….You can bet your ass you will be seeing him on one of my cars in the future!”
Allmendinger first moved to NASCAR in 2007 after a three-year stint in the now-defunct Champ Car World Series, driving for the newly-formed Team Red Bull. As part of the new Toyota program, the team struggled throughout its early years, and Allmendinger eventually signed with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009, which included a stint in the famed #43 car. He also drove for Penske Racing until his suspension for a failed drug test, during which he returned to open-wheel racing and raced in IndyCar Series for Penske. Following a part-time slate with Phoenix Racing in 2012 and 2013, he joined JTG full time in 2014.
Although Allmendinger’s successor has not been announced, it is rumored that Ryan Preece, a Whelen Modified Tour champion and part-time Xfinity Series driver, will take over the #47. Chris Buescher, who drives the #37 for JTG, is expected to return to the car for 2019.