Allmendinger released from 2009 contract with Team Red Bull

Updated: September 23, 2008, 8:10 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- AJ Allmendinger was released from his 2009 contract at Team Red Bull on Tuesday, freeing him to sign with another team and paving the path for Scott Speed to take over the No. 84 car.

Allmendinger has talked with officials from Chip Ganassi Racing and Petty Enterprises.

Officials at Ganassi Racing said they are talking with several candidates as a replacement for Reed Sorenson, who is going to Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2009.

One of those is Jeremy Mayfield, who is testing the No. 41 for Sorenson on Tuesday and Wednesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"He's here to give us feedback on the car," Ganassi Racing president Steve Lauletta said of Mayfield, who finished 25th as a replacement for the injured Dario Franchitti earlier this year at Dover. "He had a good working relationship with the team, so we figured if we were going to get somebody that had the right experience for us to learn, he would be the right guy to do it.

"It is the first step of just trying to get the team and 41 where we want it to be."

Red Bull officials had hoped to keep Allmendinger at least through next season, but were unwilling to commit beyond that. Sources said Allmendinger has at least one offer of a three-year deal. Allmendinger, in only his second year in the Sprint Cup series, is 34th in owner points.

"A.J. is a talented driver and we really enjoyed working with him," Red Bull general manager Jay Frye said. "He's come a long way in just two years and we wish him nothing but the best."

Mike Skinner will replace Allmendinger in the LMS test. Speed also will test a Red Bull car, as will Brian Vickers.

"Red Bull has made great decisions for me my whole career," Speed said. "I trust that when they think I'm ready, they'll make the right choice." Allmendinger and Sorenson are scheduled to drive their respective cars at least through Sunday's race at Kansas. Officials on both teams were non-committal about the rest of the season, although Lauletta said replacing Sorenson for the remainder of the year isn't on the radar at this moment. Red Bull officials said they will make an official announcement on their 2009 driver lineup at a later date, but Speed appears to be the heir apparent in the 84.

"I have a lot of drive to do this because I think if you can be successful in Formula One and come over here and do this and be successful in Cup racing, that's another huge accomplishment," Speed said. "I think I've learned everything pretty quickly. But the thing I'm missing is experience. You can't learn experience."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

David Newton | email

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