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AJ Allmendinger's "Road to Recovery" was a short one.
NASCAR announced Tuesday it has reinstated Allmendinger after the driver completed the sanctioning body's requirements for its substance abuse rehabilitation program.
Allmendinger had to undergo drug abuse counseling after he failed a NASCAR drug test in July and later acknowledged taking a pill from a friend of a friend.
"I want to thank everyone for their support through this entire process," Allmendinger said in a statement. "I appreciate that NASCAR created the Road to Recovery program and am grateful for the opportunity to return to competition.
"The Road to Recovery program was really helpful to me in getting my priorities reset away from the race track. And honestly, that helped find my love of racing again and why I began racing in the first place."
Allmendinger also said he was looking forward to being a better person because of the experience, but it's unclear what he will do now. He's unlikely to land a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride for 2013 – the driver was released from Penske Racing's No. 22 car after the failed test – but there's speculation he could drive an IndyCar.
Allmendinger was impressive in Champ Cars before coming to NASCAR, so he could return to open wheel in search of a new start. On the other hand, he's said he wants to stay in NASCAR.
If he can find a team to let him drive, Allmendinger could return as soon as this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
A month after failing a random drug test, NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger broke his silence Tuesday and told ESPN's Marty Smith that the drug he tested positive for was Adderall.
Allmendinger tells Smith that he was given the pill by a friend of his the Wednesday before the Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway. Feeling tired, Allmendinger's friend suggested he take a pill, which the friend claimed was a workout supplement and would give him an energy boost.
Two days later, Allmendinger was randomly selected for a drug test, which he ultimately failed, and was temporally suspended by NASCAR the following week at Daytona.
Adderall is commonly prescribed to those who suffer from attention deficit disorder, but because Allmendinger does not have ADD, he did not have a prescription to have the drug in his system.
After his ‘B' sample was tested on July 24 and came back positive, NASCAR indefinitely suspended the driver. Allmendinger subsequently entered NASCAR's Road to Recovery program with the hopes of completing it and returning to the sport.
Allmendinger also stated that he does not abuse Adderall and that this was a one-time occurrence
As the door closes for one driver, that same door opens for another.
In this case, the door represents a ride with Penske Racing in the No. 22 car formerly driven by AJ Allmendinger, who was released by the team Wednesday after both his samples tested positive for a banned substance.
In a statement released by the team it was announced that Sam Hornish Jr. would be Allmendinger's fill-in for the "foreseeable future" while the team evaluates its options for the 2013 season.
Hornish is the leading candidate to be named the permanent replacement because he has a close relationship with team owner Roger Penske. He is also currently driving a Penske-owned car in the Nationwide Series, sitting fourth in points and coming off a runner-up finish at Indianapolis.
But it's not a given that Hornish will occupy the seat in the No. 22 Dodge past this season.
Hornish's track record while wheeling a Sprint Cup Series car is spotty. In 113 career starts, the 2006 Indy 500 winner has finished in the top 10 on just eight occasions with a best finish of 28th in the year-end standings. And while Hornish has certainly matured as a stock car driver, the jury is still out on whether he deserves a full-time ride with the No. 22 team, which before this season had made the Chase three consecutive years.
If Hornish shows he's not up to the task and Penske officials decide to look elsewhere, there is no shortage of viable options. Among the names likely to be considered are Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers and David Ragan. And unlike Hornish, all four of the above drivers have proved capable of winning in Cup, and in the case of Newman and Vickers, have previously qualified for the Chase.
It also helps that all four drivers are free agents at the end of the year and would instantly provide some much-needed stability for an organization which has had to endure the turbulent end of Kurt Busch's tenure with the team followed by the ugliness of Allmendinger's failed drug test.
Logano, who is losing his full-time ride at Joe Gibbs Racing when Matt Kenseth arrives, will be under strong consideration for the No. 22 car. He's young, talented and is unlikely to get involved in any sort of trouble – which would be a priority for sponsor Shell.
Asked Saturday if he was interested in the No. 22 car should it become open, Logano said: "I'm going to look at all my options any way I can. Obviously that's a really good car and it's on the radar. You never know what can happen these days."
The Newman option is especially intriguing as he drove for the team full time from 2002-08, winning 13 races – including the '08 Daytona 500. He also left Penske on good terms, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that Newman could return to the team which first gave him his opportunity in NASCAR.
Newman's current team, Stewart-Haas Racing, has made it known that they would like him back next season if a sponsor can be found to replace the departing U.S. Army. But that seems unlikely given the current sponsorship climate.
With Penske switching from Dodge to Ford next year, one darkhorse to consider in all this is Trevor Bayne.
Ford views the 21-year-old Bayne as a promising up-and-coming driver and the manufacturer has worked hard to find him a full-time ride in either Cup or Nationwide. Although Bayne is under contract to Roush Fenway Racing and plans to run a full Nationwide schedule for the team next season, it's not completely far-fetched to think Ford would intervene and allow last year's Daytona 500 champion to move over to one of its other teams.
What we do know, though, is while Allmendinger's release is a giant setback for him – both personally and professionally –this has created an opening with a team which has the resources to contend and win a Sprint Cup Series championship. After all, rides with a team like Penske only come around every so often.
AJ Allmendinger has been released by Penske Racing. The driver has been indefinitely suspended by NASCAR for failing a drug test.
Roger Penske will meet with suspended driver AJ Allmendinger this week to discuss their future together -- or perhaps apart.
Penske, speaking to reporters after Sunday's drivers meeting at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said he's got a "very open mind" to who could drive his No. 22 car next season.
"Quite honestly, our phone is ringing off the hook with people who are interested in the ride in the 22," Penske said. "... But I want to sit down face to face with him -- which is the only fair way to do it -- and determine what's the best thing for the team and what's the best thing for him. We had a lot invested in him to this day. He's invested a lot in this sport. I'd like to see him land on his feet."
Penske said he's spoken frequently to Allmendinger and reminded the driver that much bigger names have failed drug tests and later redeemed themselves in the public eye. Allmendinger is young and still has time to come back, he said.
But it's unclear if Allmendinger will remain with Penske Racing for several reasons:
• Allmendinger had a one-year contract with the team, and it's unsure when he'll complete NASCAR's "Road to Recovery" program and be allowed to return. Penske may have to make a decision on a driver for 2013 long before that.
• Penske Racing has a no-tolerance drug testing program. The organization has conducted 300 random tests of its employees in the past year alone; Allmendinger is an independent contractor and isn't subjected to Penske's policy.
Still, Penske wondered aloud: "You have people within your company that if this would happen, what action would you take that way? Can you have a different set of circumstances for someone?"
In Allmendinger's absence, Penske said the team will continue using Sam Hornish Jr. as often as possible because sponsor Shell likes the continuity. Plus, it gives Penske a chance to evaluate whether Hornish Jr. is a good fit for next season.
"It gives us a chance to see how Sam develops, quite honestly," he said. "Then if we get further down the road and we want to make a change, we can do that."
One unknown: Penske said he had sponsors lined up to run a third Cup car for Hornish Jr. later this season. Now that Hornish Jr. will already be in the 22 car, what driver could Penske get to race those events?
While everything is still uncertain, Penske said he feels bad for Allmendinger's situation because he viewed the driver like one of his own children.
"I hope he'll rebound and have a successful career, because he's a terrific kid," Penske said.
AJ Allmendinger tested positive for some sort of amphetamine, his business manager told several media outlets on Wednesday night.
FOXSports.com, ESPN.com and the Associated Press all quoted Allmendinger representative Tara Ragan as saying the NASCAR driver's suspension was due to an unspecified amphetamine. Ragan had initially termed the drug as a "stimulant."
In the reports, Ragan said she and Allmendinger still didn't know the exact nature of the substance. But NASCAR spokesman David Higdon told Sirius XM radio that Allmendinger had been notified of specifically what he tested positive for.
Higdon also characterized Ragan's statement that Allmendinger was just "nanograms" over the accepted limit as "innaccurate." The spokesman said Allmendinger was significantly over the limit.
NASCAR is allowed to release the specific substance but has declined to do so due to privacy concerns. Allmendinger has already said he will accept NASCAR's recovery program in an attempt to be reinstated into the sport as soon as possible.
AJ Allmendinger has opted to accept NASCAR's "Road to Recovery" program beginning immediately, his business manager Tara Ragan said Wednesday afternoon.
According to Ragan, Allmendinger does not know what he ingested to cause his positive test result for a banned stimulant and is using an independent lab to test substances in his home and motorcoach to see what was responsible for the failed test.
Allmendinger was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR after his 'B' sample also tested positive on Tuesday. NASCAR has not named the substance found in the test.
"As we have stated earlier, we respect NASCAR's drug testing policies," Ragan said. "They are first and foremost in place to protect drivers and AJ being among those. We fully support the program, and as more details become available, we will share them."
In a statement, NASCAR said it was "very pleased" Allmendinger has chosen to participate in the program.
"It's designed, as proven, to provide a road map leading to a return to competition, and we wish him the best of luck," the statement said. "As we have with other competitors, we look forward to the day when the program administrator recommends him for reinstatement."
Now that Allmendinger has accepted NASCAR's terms, he will have to undergo an evaluation by a substance abuse counselor. That meeting will generate a further checklist of goals for Allmendinger. After he completes the program to the satisfaction of the NASCAR program administrator – which could take months – he could then be recommended for reinstatement.
Allmendinger issued his own early-morning statement via Twitter – his first comments about the situation – thanking fans for their support.
AJ Allmendinger had yet to comment on his positive drug test and suspension from NASCAR since the news first broke just hours before the Daytona race on July 7.
But early Wednesday morning, following the news that his 'B' sample also tested positive, Allmendinger issued a series of tweets shortly before 2 a.m. Eastern thanking his fans for their support and vowing to return to NASCAR:
I just want to say thank you first and foremost for all if u sticking by me. Please dont think me being means i havent been reading all ur— AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) July 25, 2012
Support. And man, it means more than u eill ever know. Im sorry we even have to have this going on. But i promise ..i will do whatever it— AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) July 25, 2012
Takes to get to the bottom of this and get back our there no matter what. Thanks guys.— AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) July 25, 2012
Obviously, there were a couple spelling errors and missed words in the statement. And because of that, it's a bit confusing to read. Our best guess for what he intended to say (with all the mistakes cleaned up) is this: "I just want to say, 'Thank you' first and foremost for all of you sticking by me. Please don't think me being suspended means I haven't been reading all your support. And, man, it means more than you will ever know. I'm sorry we even have to have this going on. But I promise: I will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this and get back out there no matter what. Thanks, guys."
UPDATE: Tweep @mary4jr88 suggested Allmendinger's missing word might have been "silent" or "quiet," not
"suspended." She has a great point.
Allmendinger must have gotten a lot of feedback about the mistakes, because at 2:22 a.m., he tweeted:
Hey..sorry to u guys jumping on my spelling..it wasnt a "pr" statement..it was me typing from my heart...sorry it wasnt perfect— AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) July 25, 2012
AJ Allmendinger has a long road back to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after his 'B' sample test turned out to be a positive result on Tuesday, prompting his indefinite suspension.
But there is a path that will be laid out for Allmendinger's return – a difficult and intensive program conducted by NASCAR's substance abuse program administrator.
According to NASCAR spokesman David Higdon, these are the next steps:
• NASCAR facilitates assistance for anyone testing positive under the substance abuse program. The first step is a letter sent to any suspended license-holder which lays out the terms for reinstatement.
• If the suspended person agrees to the letter, he or she is allowed to participate in the "Road to Recovery" program.
• NASCAR's program administrator works with the suspended person to arrange an evaluation by a substance abuse professional. That evaluation is what helps the administrator "create a road map leading to a return to competition," Higdon said.
• The road map may include "everything from counseling to in-house treatment and rehabilitation," Higdon said. Additional testing is required, but how often and under what conditions is dictated by the program administrator.
• After all this is done to the program administrator's satisfaction, a letter is sent to NASCAR with the administrator's endorsement for reinstating the suspended person. It's up to the administrator how long that process takes.
In Allmendinger's specific situation, his representatives have not announced whether the driver will accept NASCAR's plan or take other action. And even if he does go through the program, his ride at Penske Racing may be gone by the time he returns.
It took less than 12 hours for AJ Allmendinger's final hope to disappear.
After waiting more than two weeks for his 'B' sample to be tested, Allmendinger learned the result was again positive on Tuesday. Together with the primary 'A' sample, that prompted NASCAR to announce it has indefinitely suspended the Penske Racing driver for violating its substance abuse policy.
Allmendinger becomes only the second Sprint Cup Series driver to be indefinitely suspended under NASCAR's new drug policy. Jeremy Mayfield, the other driver, fought NASCAR's results in court and has never driven again.
The specific substance was not announced by NASCAR, though Allmendinger has said it was for a "stimulant." Aegis, the company which conducts NASCAR's drug testing, performed the test on Allmendinger's 'B' urine sample this morning at its laboratory in Nashville. Allmendinger and a toxicologist of his choosing were expected to be in attendance.
Allmendinger's business manager, Tara Ragan, said an unspecified stimulant caused results "that were within nanograms of accepted standards."
"This was not the news we wanted to hear and we will work to get to the source of what may have caused this," Ragan said. "To that end, we have secured the services of an independent lab to conduct thorough testing on every product within AJ's home and motor coach to find what might collaborate with his test."
If Allmendinger is ever to return to NASCAR, he has a long road ahead. The next step is for him to receive a letter from NASCAR outlining a process for reinstatement.
Should Allmendinger agree to the letter, he will be in the "Road to Recovery" program, which is tailored to each individual and implemented by NASCAR's program administrator.
"We are working closely with NASCAR and Penske Racing to identify the next action steps in this process," Ragan said. "We continue to be extremely grateful by the breadth and scope of support for AJ from his fans and partners."
Allmendinger will likely miss the rest of this season and possibly longer. Since he was on a one-year contract to drive Penske's No. 22 car, his chances of remaining with the team have taken a huge blow.
In a statement, Penske Racing said it was "very disappointed" by the test result.
"We respect NASCAR's policy and the process they have taken with this matter," the statement said. "... (Penske) will evaluate its course of action as it pertains to AJ over the coming week."
Sam Hornish Jr., who subbed for Allmendinger at Daytona and New Hampshire, will again drive the No. 22 car this weekend at Indianapolis and in the following race at Pocono.
The result of AJ Allmendinger's final hope to be immediately reinstated into NASCAR competition will be known within the next 48 hours.
Allmendinger's 'B' sample is scheduled to be tested this morning at 9 a.m. Eastern time, with the driver and his selected toxicologist on hand to observe the procedure at the Aegis Analytical Laboratories in Nashville.
NASCAR allows a person failing the 'A' sample to designate an independent toxicologist to witness the 'B' sample testing. After the sample is tested, results are expected to be made public either Wednesday or Thursday.
If Allmendinger's 'B' sample is negative for what his business manager said was a "stimulant," then the driver will be reinstated immediately and could drive for Penske Racing at Indianapolis this weekend.
But if the second test confirms the positive result, Allmendinger's "temporary" NASCAR suspension will become an "indefinite" suspension. If the driver wants to return to stock car racing's big leagues, he'll have to complete a difficult "Road to Recovery" set forth by NASCAR's substance abuse program administrator.
That process, which is tailored to each individual, could take at least four or five months. And by that time, Allmendinger may not have a team to return to.
The following is a statement from Tara Ragan, AJ Allmendinger's business manager, released Tuesday morning in regard to the latest on Allmendinger's suspension for failing a NASCAR drug test:
"We now have a confirmed date for the testing of AJ's "B" (split specimen) Sample. The test will take place on Tuesday, July 24 at 8 a.m. CDT and be conducted at the Aegis Analytical Laboratories in Nashville.
Pursuant to the 2012 NASCAR Rulebook and in line with the procedures, we have elected to have a designated independent toxicologist present on AJ's behalf. Along with everyone else, we are looking forward to hearing the results as quickly as possible.
AJ and all of us at Walldinger Racing have truly appreciated the outpouring of support from our fans, partners, and colleagues. It has meant a lot to us during this difficult time. We are also grateful to Mr. Penske and his management team for their patience and respect of the process we are going through."
NASCAR released their own statement late Tuesday morning, along with a timeline of events:
"NASCAR has been informed by the NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy Program Administrator (Dr. David Black of Aegis Sciences Corporation) that the test of AJ Allmendinger's "B" sample will take place on Tuesday, July 24. The test will be conducted in Nashville, Tennessee at Aegis headquarters, per the NASCAR rule book.
Review of timeline:
- On June 29, NASCAR member Allmendinger, driver of the #22 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was randomly tested by Aegis at the NASCAR event in Kentucky, per Section 19-6C.
- On July 4, the Program Administrator (PA) sent a positive "A" sample test result to the program's Medical Review Officer (MRO) Dr. Douglas Aukerman, M.D., and on July 5, Aegis sent final paperwork to the MRO, per Section 19-11, which allows him to begin his review.
- On July 6, the MRO and competitor exchanged phone messages.
- On July 7, the MRO connected by phone with the NASCAR member and informed him of the positive "A" test. The MRO also informed him he could choose to have the "B" sample tested, per Section 19-11A, B.
- Later that day, July 7, the MRO notified NASCAR of the positive "A" test, and NASCAR temporarily suspended the NASCAR member, as stated in Section 19-11B(6,7).
- The NASCAR member officially notified the MRO on July 9 of his request to have his "B" sample tested, which was within the allotted 72-hour window from the time he was informed that his "A" sample was positive, per Section 19-11B.
- Once a member requests to have the "B" sample tested, NASCAR's substance abuse policy provides its members up to 30 business days to have the "B" sample test conducted and results finalized, per Sec. 19-11B(5). These 30 days are designed to provide the member with reasonable time to prepare to attend the "B" sample test or be represented by a qualified toxicologist, per Sec. 19-11B(2).
- On July 17, the PA informed NASCAR that the NASCAR member made the decision to select Tuesday, July 24, for the "B" test and has designated an independent toxicologist to be present on his behalf."
Team owner Roger Penske held out hope suspended NASCAR Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger will return to the No. 22 Dodge for the July 29 Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
That will happen, however, only if the test of a "B" sample fails to confirm the positive test of the "A" urine sample Allmendinger provided June 29 at Kentucky Speedway. Allmendinger tested positive for what his business manager, Tara Ragan, characterized as a "stimulant" and was suspended from NASCAR competition before the July 7 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.
Substituting for Allmendinger, Sam Hornish Jr. drove the No. 22 to a 22nd-place finish in Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"Obviously, this situation is disappointing because of the circumstances," Penske said after Sunday's drivers' meeting at NHMS. "I've said it before. I'm more concerned about the individual than the situation, because that'll take care of itself. There'll be facts and figures, and there'll be an outcome.
"I think, more importantly, if the results go (Allmendinger's) way, meaning that he can get back in the car, he'll be in the car at Indianapolis. If it's not, then we'll assess Sam's availability."
A test of Allmendinger's "B" sample, which was collected at the same time as the "A" sample, had not been scheduled as of Sunday, according to Ragan.
Should Allmendinger's "B" sample test result in an indefinite suspension from NASCAR competition, Penske has other options beyond Hornish, pending consultation with sponsor Shell/Pennzoil.
"We've had a lot of contacts, as you might expect," said Penske, who also fields the No. 2 Dodge for Brad Keselowski in the Cup series, along with two NASCAR Nationwide Series cars. "It's a great ride, great sponsor and, heck, we've got a great team. To me, we can't run around with one car. We've got to have two, and you'd like to have three in this competitive environment that we're in. Overall, we're going to deal with it."
Penske said he has been in touch with Allmendinger and hopes the issue can be resolved within the next two weeks.
"My communication with him is saying, 'Look, we're here, we're anxious to get the results, we're behind you, let's stay that way, and we'll deal with whatever the outcome is at the proper time,' " Penske said.
Tara Ragan, business manager for suspended driver AJ Allmendinger, debunked published reports that Walldinger Racing plans to bring an attorney to the testing of Allmendinger's "B" sample, the next step in the procedure under NASCAR's substance abuse program.
As set forth in NASCAR's rule book, Allmendinger may attend the "B" sample test at Aegis Sciences Corporation in Nashville, Tenn., or send a qualified toxicologist to represent him.
Allmendinger was suspended Saturday before that night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona because the "A" sample from a urine test collected June 29 at Kentucky Speedway tested positive for what Ragan termed in a subsequent statement "a stimulant" in an amount that was "slightly above the threshold."
Ragan's statement also included the assertion that Allmendinger had never knowingly taken a prohibited substance and indicated he was requesting a test of the "B" sample, which was collected at the same time as the "A" sample.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that "Allmendinger wants his own toxicologist and attorney present," citing sources familiar with the case. Noting that the language in the NASCAR rule book restricts attendance at the "B" sample test to the member (Allmendinger, in this case) or a qualified toxicologist, Ragan said Friday morning that Walldinger Racing intended to follow the rules as stated.
Ragan said she took the passage in Section 19-11 B (2) of the rule book literally: "The NASCAR member may be present (either personally or represented by a qualified toxicologist not associated with Aegis) during the second test at his/her expense . . ."
Ragan said Allmendinger has not been informed of a "B" sample test date, next week or otherwise.
From the moment AJ Allmendinger's business manager said the NASCAR driver tested positive for a banned stimulant, some people began drawing a connection to one of his recently signed sponsors.
In March, Allmendinger was named as an endorser for "Fuel In A Bottle," which offers both energy-shot and protein-shot drinks, similar to others on the market now. Because of the endorsement, fans and even some media speculated it could have been a reason for Allmendinger's failed test.
Is that even possible? Here's what Amy Pearce, Fuel In A Bottle's director of brand development, said in a statement to SB Nation when we asked for comment on the speculation linking the product to the failed test:
All ingredients in Fuel in a Bottle are recognized as safe by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Ingredients in Fuel in a Bottle include Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Taurine, Caffeine, Sucralose and L-phenylalanine, an amino acid found in proteins.
These ingredients are similar to those found in virtually all energy shots and energy drinks, as well as in many common foods like eggs, fish, beef, cheese and milk.
We don't know which stimulant got Allmendinger suspended. So until we do, it's unfair to NASCAR, Allmendinger and even third parties like Fuel In A Bottle to speculate on what might have been the cause of the positive drug test.
It's human nature to be curious and want answers, but let's all wait until more facts come out before trying to theorize on why Allmendinger failed a drug test.
AJ Allmendinger's positive NASCAR drug test was due to a "stimulant," his business manager said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. The specific stimulant was not named.
Tara Ragan said Allmendinger has "no idea why the first test was positive and he has never knowingly taken any prohibited substance."
"AJ is collecting his medicines and supplements for testing to determine whether an over the counter product caused his positive test," Ragan said. "AJ and all of us at Walldinger Racing respect NASCAR's testing program, and he has requested that his 'B' sample be tested as part of the process of getting to the bottom of this."
Allmendinger's 'A' sample was tested and it was determined the stimulant was "slightly above the threshold" allowed by NASCAR, Ragan said.
As of Wednesday morning, Ragan said the 'B' sample had not been tested and the driver had not been informed of when that testing would take place. Allmendinger can review the scientific data once the 'B' sample has been tested, she said.
"Thanks again for all of the support of our fans, team, and sponsors as we continue working through the process," Ragan said.
AJ Allmendinger has made his first comments about failing a NASCAR drug test in a statement released Tuesday afternoon:
"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 No. 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."
Penske Racing has said Sam Hornish Jr. will drive for Allmendinger this weekend at New Hampshire while the results of the 'B' sample are pending.
Sam Hornish Jr. will replace AJ Allmendinger in Penske Racing's No. 22 Sprint Cup Series car this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the team said in a statement on Monday morning.
Hornish was a last-minute substitute for Allmendinger in Saturday's Daytona race after Allmendinger was temporarily suspended from NASCAR for failing a drug test.
In its statement, Penske said it was "continuing to work with NASCAR to follow its process and procedures."
Since Hornish is running for a championship in the Nationwide Series this year, it's unclear whether Penske will use him on a weekly basis in the No. 22 car.
Allmendinger has until Tuesday to request his 'B' sample be tested. When drivers are drug-tested, their urine is divided into two cups – an 'A' and 'B' sample. NASCAR said Allmendinger's 'A' sample came back positive for an unspecified drug, which is why it suspended him for the Daytona race.
If the 'B' sample also is positive, Allmendinger will be indefinitely suspended from NASCAR.
Allmendinger fans vow to stand behind the affable driver because of their personal connections with him – and refuse to believe he did anything wrong.
Roger Penske was interviewed on Sunday night's edition of SPEED Center on SPEED and had the following comments about the failed drug test for Penske Racing driver AJ Allmendinger:
Robin Miller: RP, you flew in from Europe last night and got some unfortunate news ...
Roger Penske: Well, yes it's unfortunate, obviously, when you come back ... and we're having such a good season ... to have a disappointment like that with AJ.
You know, there's still some time. He's got another test they have to look at this next week and then we'll make a decision. Obviously, we support the NASCAR program of drug-free drivers, mechanics and crew members and we need to abide by that.
To me, it's a big speed bump for us, but at the end of the day, we've had situations before that we've had to deal with and we're going to be professional, we are going to support the sport and we don't want to let our sponsors down. At this point, we'll just wait and see.
Sam Hornish Jr. wasn’t supposed to be competing in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. In fact, the Penske Racing Nationwide Series driver was back in Charlotte working as an analyst for SPEED on the television program SPEED Center.
But during commercial, Hornish reached into his pocket to check his cell phone which had kept buzzing while he was on the air.
“I was standing there with my phone in my pocket getting ready to go sit down to answer the question of who my pick was going to be for the night and also what it takes to be someone that they want to draft with," he said. “My phone started vibrating and I looked at it and I’m like, ‘I can’t take it right now, even though I know it’s important' – because I knew this was a live show.
"I did the show and they wanted to tape something for tomorrow and they said ‘Can we tape something?’ and I’m like ‘I have to make a call quick’ and then it was, ‘Nope, I can’t.’”
It was then when Hornish learned he was being called into duty by his Penske Racing team as a last-minute replacement for AJ Allmendinger, who had just been suspended by NASCAR for violating its substance abuse policy.
Hornish quickly trekked to the airport to catch a waiting plane to Daytona and as he did that, the No. 22 team was tasked with refitting its Dodge with a seat, pedals and a steering column to fit Hornish's specifications.
And because this all unfolded in a short amount of time, and because the green flag was rapidly approaching, some special accommodations were made.
“It’s kind of a weird thing landing in an airplane and see cop lights sitting there at the airport,” he said. “It was close, we were within minutes. If we had taken off 10 minutes later, I don’t know what they would have done.”
So there was Hornish, driving a car he hadn't practiced, racing underneath the green flag in just his second Cup race of the year.
“The big thing was I wanted to take a couple of laps to feel the car out, feel exactly what was good, what I liked and didn’t like about it and give myself an opportunity to feel the car out,” Hornish said. “It was actually a little tighter than I would have liked it to be.
“But all-in-all, I couldn’t have asked for much more on that short of a time period. The head rest was awful; the steering wheel was off a bit. But I knew all that because I didn’t have the time to take all the steps you normally take to get yourself ready for one of these races.”
When everything was said and done, Hornish finished the night in 33rd place after a blown a tire caused him to spin out. Overall, it was an experience which he referred to as “different.”
Sam Hornish Jr. to replace Allmendinger in tonight's Coke Zero 400.
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