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Talk is heating up about AJ Allmendinger's chances to win the Indianapolis 500

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IndyCar team owner Roger Penske, right, talks with driver AJ Allmendinger before the start of the final practice session for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (The Associated Press)

As he heads into his first career Indianapolis 500, AJ Allmendinger is being mentioned as one of the race favorites.

The Indy 500 rookie qualified fifth for Sunday's race, ahead of Penske Racing teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves. His car has been so dialed-in that Power even used Allmendinger's setup for his own qualifying run.

Allmendinger left open-wheel after his five-win 2006 season to join NASCAR. He bounced around with a handful of teams before landing last year at Penske Racing in the best job of his life. But a failed drug test got him suspended and Penske fired him. Yet it was Penske who has given him a second chance with this IndyCar opportunity.