AJ Allmendinger has been seen has a driver who has potential. But a loose cannon. A wildcard (no pun intended) if you will.
Allmendinger's NASCAR career started off poorly by him missing many races. He finally got things together and became a serviceable driver. He finished a solid and career best 15th in points last season with Ricard Petty Motorsports. But still no career wins.
After Kurt Busch and Penske racing parted ways, the doors opened for the former open wheel driver to hook up with the Captain Roger Penske.
It was a dream come true for him. Penske may not be to to Hendrick status in cup as far as success goes. But he has just as much respect if not more from everyone. Penske is a team capable of winning races and making the chase. AJ knew it was his best shot.
2012 has not been a good seaosn for Allmendinger. He did get a career best second place finish at Martinsville. But perhaps if he ahd been more aggressive that could have been a win. He did record back to back top tens at Sonoma and Kentucky bringing his season total to one top five and three top tens. Yet he was 23rd in points entering Daytona.
Then NASCAR came calling tell Allmendinger that he would not race Saturday night. That he was suspended for failing a drug test given to him a week earlier. Shades of when it was announced that Jeremy Mayfield had failed a drug test.
NASCAR has given Allmendinge 72 hours to allow the B sample to be tested. Allmendinger has allowed it. Allmendinger also released a statement.
"I have informed NASCAR that I have requested that the "B" sample be tested, following the steps according to NASCAR's 2012 rule book regarding this situation. I fully respect NASCAR's drug usage policy and the reasons they have it. I am hoping this can get resolved as quickly as possible so that I can get back to driving the #22 Penske Racing Dodge. I am sorry that this has caused such a distraction for my Penske Racing team, our sponsors and fans. Obviously I would never do anything to jeopardize my opportunity here at Penske Racing or to my fellow drivers. I am very conscious about my training and health and would never knowingly take a prohibited drug."
While it is very possible that this could all be a mix up. That possibly his wife could have been involved with this. Or he took some cough syrup by accident. It doesn't look good.
When a driver fails a drug test, it is usually because they did a drug. Now you can say Allmendinger doesnt' look like someone who does drugs. I agree. But did Shane Hmiel or Jeremy Mayfield look like people who did drugs? Allmendinger does have a dui he got in 2009.
I wonder why Allmendinger hasn't just came out and said: I didn't do any drugs. Or say: I am sorry I screwed up. He says that "he just can't". Damn legal advice.
With Penske wanting to bring Sam Hornish Jr back to Cup and look ad looking at Trevor Bayne, why keep on Allmendinger? He was under performing and hasn't won a race yet. Many media members already felt he would be let go from his one year deal at season's end.
Roger Penske has a decision to make. And it should be easy: let AJ Allmendinger go.