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AJ Allmendinger battles nerves at Barber while taking small steps in IndyCar debut

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Driver AJ Allmendinger takes a turn during practice for the IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama auto race in Birmingham, Ala. on Friday, April 5, 2013. Allmendinger is preparing for his first IndyCar race after making the transition back to open-wheel racing from NASCAR. (AP Photo/AL.com, Frank Couch) MAGS OUT (The Associated Press)

AJ Allmendinger walked to the dais after his first full day of practice and accidentally knocked over a chair.

He then quipped he was glad it wasn't his race car that he'd just wrecked.

Everything is a small victory for Allmendinger in this part-time return to open-wheel racing.

He's been given a second chance by Roger Penske after the team owner was forced last summer to fire Allmendinger from his NASCAR organization because of a failed random drug test.

But Penske's opportunity for Allmendinger is in the IndyCar Series, where Allmendinger will make his debut Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park.

It's a warm-up for next month's Indianapolis 500 for Allmendinger.