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Allmendinger gets 1st start after drug suspension

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm •  Published: October 11, 2012

Still looking for work for 2013, Allmendinger wasn't sure if anyone would take another chance on him.

He is not sure how rusty he will be this weekend.

"I've just got to get comfortable," Allmendinger said. "This is the longest I haven't driven a race car in at least six years. In the offseason, I'm always driving a Rolex car and our (NASCAR) offseason is only two months, anyway. So I'm a little nervous, trying to get back into the flow of things.

"I don't expect to set the world on fire. I'm just trying to get used to it again, progress through the weekend, limit my mistakes, finish all 500 miles and wherever that puts us, it puts us."

The first issue the team encountered was a big one — the car had been fitted Monday for Smith, and Allmendinger couldn't reach the pedals when he got inside the cockpit on Thursday. It forced the lean Phoenix crew to scramble to move the throttle and make the adjustments needed to get Allmendinger on the track in time for first practice.

Allmendinger, who also had to use tape to shorten his Phoenix firesuit, wasn't complaining.

"In a situation like this, beggars can't be choosers," he said.

Meanwhile, Smith hustled to Hendrick Motorsports to get fitted for his second car in a week. He was in Phoenix firesuit, but wearing a hat bearing the logo of Earnhardt's sponsor.

"The past four weeks have been about as up and down as any four weeks in my life," said Smith, who learned in the last month he was being let go by Furniture Row and then he was replaced before the end of the season.

"I just want to do these guys proud and run as good as we can this weekend with this car," he said. "They're the same goals this team has every weekend: We want to go out there and try win the pole and try to win the race and try to be the fastest car in every practice. That's not going to change this weekend."