For the first time since his reinstatement following a failed drug test, AJ Allmendinger will be starting a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Allmendinger will drive the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing in Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Originally, Regan Smith was tabbed to drive the car after Kurt Busch, Phoenix's previous driver, took Smith's ride this week at Furniture Row Racing.
However, Smith has moved over to Hendrick Motorsports as a temporary fill-in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is out for the next two weeks with a concussion.
Ironically, Allmendinger was the original replacement for Busch at Penske Racing, where in 17 starts this season Allmendinger posted one top-five and three top-10 finishes. The team, however, released Allmendinger on Aug. 1 after he had been indefinitely suspended by NASCAR.
Saturday will mark Allmendinger's first race of any kind since Kentucky in June. The 30-year-old driver was suspended the following week at Daytona after testing positive for Adderall. He subsequently entered NASCAR's Road to Recovery program which he successfully completed last month making him eligible to return to competition.