Some may have questioned Roger Penske and Tim Cindric when they hired AJ Allmendinger to drive the No 22 Dodge for this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign.

After all, the Dinger had run mid- to back-pack for much of his Cup career, learning from the arena of “have-nots” what it takes to be a NASCAR driver.

Allmendinger left a sprouting open wheel career behind to tackle stock car racing in 2007 and, over the past year or two his efforts have started to spring results.

Penske Racing selected the 30-year-old from Los Gatos, California shortly after dismissing 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch for avoidable mental lapses.