AJ Allmendinger's loss turned out to be Joey Logano's gain.
After Allmendinger tested positive for amphetamines and was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR, Penske Racing released the driver and had to make a decision as to who would drive its No. 22 Shell-sponsored car next season and beyond.
Penske announced its answer on Tuesday afternoon: Logano, the 22-year-old driver who has spent his entire career at Joe Gibbs Racing. Logano has two wins and 37 top-10 finishes in 136 career races, plus four full seasons of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series experience at a still-young age.
"I am very excited to join Penske Racing and begin the next phase of my career," Logano said in a statement. "I am looking forward to the opportunity as it will be an honor to drive for Roger Penske and race for wins and championships. I am also proud to represent Shell-Pennzoil as they are a respected global brand that does a great job of activating in the sport on and off the track."
Logano now enters a world where white button-down shirts and a corporate image are the norm. But he should fit in well with Penske's mission, both on and off the track.
Though he could have stayed at JGR, it would have been in a diminished role – as a Nationwide Series driver instead of a Cup driver – due to Matt Kenseth's arrival with the team. Logano and his father (who handles the driver's business) felt Cup was where they needed to be, and Penske provided that opportunity.
Paired with Brad Keselowski, Logano gives Penske an exciting duo of talented, winning drivers for its move from Dodge to Ford next season. His hiring is an upgrade over Allmendinger, who had yet to win in NASCAR competition.
Penske picked Logano over rumored names like Brian Vickers, Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr., who currently drives the car on an interim basis and could still end up in a third entry for the team – though he wasn't mentioned in Tuesday's press release.
A conference call with reporters is scheduled for Wednesday morning, when the team will release more details.