After AJ Allmendinger completed his first race since being reinstated from a substance abuse suspension, the driver seemed both rejuvenated and anxious to know when he'd be racing again.
Allmendinger finished 24th for Phoenix Racing in Saturday night's NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway – not a bad result considering his three-month layoff.
"I questioned whether or not I could even do 500 miles at Charlotte, but then we were competitive up until we lost that tire, and we were looking at top-17 finish, beating some really good race teams," he said. "I just want to thank James Finch for this opportunity and we’ll see if we’re racing at Kansas next weekend.”
Allmendinger hovered around 20th all night and could have finished there if not for a penalty during his final pit stop. A crewman let a tire get away during the stop and Allmendinger was forced to serve a drive-through penalty.
“We fought a tight race car all night,” Allmendinger said. “We didn’t even get the car right until that last practice session. But the guys fought really hard all weekend and we were in position to get a top-17 before that tire rolled away. But other than that, it felt really good to be back out there.
“That’s all I know how to do.”
The spot opened up for Allmendinger to make his return when Regan Smith was hired away to relieve Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports. Allmendinger’s last start was at Kentucky on June 30. He was suspended just hours before the following week’s race at Daytona International Speedway.