INDIANAPOLIS — AJ Allmendinger looked and sounded like a driver getting the second chance of a lifetime Friday.
Eight months after failing a NASCAR drug test and losing his job on Roger Penske's Sprint Cup team, the Californian was rehired by The Captain to drive in two IndyCar races this season — including the biggest, the Indianapolis 500.
Allmendinger, 31, will drive the No. 2 car that, with Ryan Briscoe driving, earned the pole last year.
"When you're racing against people at over 200 mph, they're the ones that have to trust you and if they don't trust you, you're not going to be back in the sport anyway," Allmendinger said after listing a series of drivers who had offered support to him in his comeback bid. "So they told me do what you have to do and get back, get back as soon as possible." The deal is for two races: April 7 at Birmingham, Ala., and May 26 at Indy. If Penske finds more funding, the schedule could be expanded.
Rocky for Patrick: Danica Patrick said she was fine after getting hit in the head by a rock on the dirt track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. She was attending an event Thursday night when she was struck and had a brief conversation with medical staff Friday but said she felt no problems. "I feel like I have a concussion from last night," she said, joking.
Rainout: Sprint Cup qualifying for Sunday's race at Las Vegas was rained out. Brad Keselowski will start on the pole as the field was set by 2012 owner points. And with the Nationwide cars having had no track time, NASCAR decided to have practice this morning rather than qualifying, so the field was set by last year's owner points. Brian Vickers starts first.