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A.J. Allmendinger, Not David Ragan, To Drive No. 22 Penske Dodge in 2012

The hopes that Unadilla's David Ragan would be aligned with the legendary Penske Racing organization came to an end Wednesday, when the team announced it had signed Californian A.J. Allmendinger to pilot the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge in 2012.

Allmendinger became available when his Richard Petty Motorsports team lost its primary sponsorship from Best Buy to Roush-Fenway Racing - Ragan's former employers - where it will serve as part-time sponsor for Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

Published reports had previously all-but had Ragan's name on the roof of the yellow and red Chargers, which Kurt Busch drove to two victories and an 11th-place finish in the final standings this past season. Busch and Penske officially parted ways on December 5, ending a six-year relationship just one season into a new five-year contract signed prior to the 2011 season.

Now out of the running for the No. 22 ride, Ragan's likely destinations are either the No. 43 Ford vacated by Allmendinger - a team which recieves technical support from Roush - or the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet. Ragan reportedly was close to a deal with James Finch, owner of the latter ride, before the opportunity to take over for Busch at Penske arose. With Busch - the 2004 Sprint Cup champion - still seeking employment for 2012, he could likely be Ragan's stiffest competition for either of the rides. Brian Vickers and David Reutimann - each a two-time Sprint Cup race winner - are likewise still on the unemployment line

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.