Waiting for the Allmendinger bomb to drop
The media watch is on as AJ Allmendinger's "B" sample is analyzed by the Aegis Lab. The items of interest that have been reported include the fact that Allmendinger had an opportunity to meet with the NASCAR Medical Review Officer (MRO) to explain the "A" sample results prior to NASCAR officials being notified.
That would suggest that Allmendinger was either unable to offer a suitable explanation, was unclear as to the nature of the violation or believed that an error had been made. Now that a second test has been requested, the motorsports and mainstream media is waiting for the potential bomb to drop.
Tuesday evening on SPEED's RaceHub show host Steve Byrnes and analyst Bob Dillner surfaced the topic of Allmendinger having a tough time handling some issues within his domestic life. Dillner used the word divorce while Byrnes made it clear a driver's personal issues should be off-limits.
Dillner had exchanged phone texts with Allmendinger and stated that the driver had expressed frustration about not being able to address the situation publicly, but that he would wait until the second analysis was completed before making a comment. It was suggested that perhaps Team Penske played a major role in that decision.
Shortly after the Race Hub program concluded, Allmendinger's mother Karen offered this on Twitter. It may be the most up to date comment on the situation. "One thing I can state, without a doubt in my mind, is that AJ would never, ever take an illegal drug," she tweeted.
Over on ESPN's NASCAR Now program, analyst Ray Evernham refused to pass judgment until the results of the second test were in. He simply said there would come at time when Allmendinger would have to answer to NASCAR, Penske and ultimately himself on this issue.
The growing frustration in the media and fan base is a familiar one. Simply not knowing the violation in these days of real time social media like Twitter and Facebook leads to speculation and gossip. From Allmendinger's endorsement of Fuel in a Bottle power shots to rumors about spotters knowing there was an ongoing issue are already being batted around on fan forums.
Certainly NASCAR's hope is that this issue can be resolved before the weekend of racing begins in New Hampshire. Heading into the weekend without answers to very fundamental questions will twist the media focus from racing to NASCAR's substance abuse policies. The bottom line is that fans want answers.
Allmendinger has been a feature reporter for NASCAR Now this season. He prepares a weekly piece produced at the track that focuses on behind the scenes topics that are a bit off-beat. In the past, he has also appeared on SPEED's Race Hub and is a very TV-friendly presence.
Currently the information blackout being enforced by NASCAR, Penske and Allmendinger has proven to be effective in keeping speculation to a minimum. Once the results of the second test are in, there is still no guarantee that information on the specific violation will be disclosed. Ultimately, it is up to Allmendinger.
The entire spectrum of possibilities exist at present from complete reinstatement to an indefinite suspension. To see the career of any elite athlete dangle by a lab result is distressing, but the reality of motorsports is very different from the stick and ball world. Steroids, Human Growth Hormone and blood doping don't make drivers go faster.
The real concern is that a driver may be altered while in the car. That sobriety is the baseline for fair play and that accidents just happen while racing is the very foundation of the sport. Just the perception that this principle may have been violated keeps the gossip wheel spinning. DalyPlanet