Allmendinger cheers on Legge at Indianapolis

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Katherine Legge had at least one supporter in her corner when she showed up at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week.

AJ Allmendinger and Legge have known each other for more than a decade, dating to their early days in open-wheel racing. Legge hadn’t seen her old friend in several months, so she made a trip out to the speedway to visit with Allmendinger during preparations for his first Indianapolis 500.

Once at the speedway, she got wind there might be an open seat available in Sam Schmidt’s third car. Legge went after it aggressively with Allmendinger cheering her on.

“She had nothing, she basically just came out to the track to see me,” Allmendinger said. “So she hung out, and then basically began piecing that whole deal together by herself.”

Legge had an IndyCar Series ride last year with Dragon Racing, which ran her in 10 of the 15 events after an engine manufacturer change forced the team to share one car between Legge and Sebastien Bourdais. She ran her first Indianapolis 500 and finished 22nd.

Then Dragon decided to make an offseason driver change, replacing Legge with Sebastian Saavedra, and Legge has accused the team of stealing the sponsor she brought to Dragon. It left Legge without a job and not enough time to put another deal together. She snagged a deal to test the DeltaWing, which led to her racing it at Laguna Seca in early May.

Legge and co-driver Andy Meyrick finished third to give the DeltaWing its first podium in the American Le Mans Series.

From there, Legge headed home to Indianapolis and then out to the track to visit with her old buddy Allmendinger. Then she got busy putting a ride together for herself.

“She went to the series, she went to ABC for an in-car camera, talking to Firestone, talking to Honda, talking to Sam himself _ she did that whole deal by herself, and pieced it together, and she didn’t have sponsor money,” Allmendinger said. “There were people there who had sponsorship who wanted to get in the car. I was so proud of her to see her work through that.”

The deal with Schmidt wasn’t completed until Saturday.

“I was texting her Friday night, `What’s the news?’ she said `I don’t know.’ Saturday morning, she still texted she didn’t know,” he said. “Then Saturday afternoon after my first qualifying, she came over and said they were putting a motor in. `I’m getting in the car.’”

Rain washed out Legge’s chances to drive on Saturday, so “Bump Day” was her first opportunity. She ran in the morning and qualified the car, an effort made easier when Michel Jourdain Jr. wasn’t able to make a qualifying run.

“I don’t care if there was one car to bump out, she hadn’t been in an IndyCar since (2012 season finale),” Allmendinger said. “So to jump in and go run 223 mph takes some (guts). I am so proud of her, for getting in the car, and for doing that whole deal without anyone’s help.

“Obviously she got a raw deal from the last deal she got, for her to do that, that was awesome and I am so happy for her. So yes, I am a huge Katherine Legge fan.”

Legge was rewarded Monday when Angie’s List signed on to sponsor her Indy 500 entry.

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