Allmendinger to drive No. 44 for RPM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Richard Petty Motorsports on Wednesday completed its deal with AJ Allmendinger to drive the No. 44 car in 2009, with an option for 2010.

Allmendinger is scheduled to compete in next weekend's Budweiser Shootout and the first eight races of the Sprint Cup season, as well as the July 5 race at Daytona International Speedway. How many races he drives beyond that will depend on sponsorship.

"This is pretty awesome news for me," Allmendinger said. "I just want to get behind the wheel of a race car and race. We have a lot of work to do on the track and we need to sell some sponsorships, but this team has great equipment and there is a lot of chemistry here based on how we did at the end of last season."

Allmendinger, who spent most of last season with Red Bull Racing, had two top 10s in 2008. Over the final five races for RPM, then Gillett Evernham Motorsports, he accumulated the 14th most points of any driver.

"A.J. has a ton of potential," co-owner Richard Petty said in a statement. "I went testing with him a few weeks ago. When he climbed out of the car he went to everyone asking them questions and wanting to know what was going on. That's the kind of thing you want out of your driver."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.