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Allmendinger taking it race-by-race
AJ Allmendinger came back from a workout at his gym early last Thursday morning to find four missed calls and five text messages on his cell phone. He quickly returned the calls and by 9 a.m. had a job -- his first since being reinstated by NASCAR following a three-month suspension for failing a drug test. And after a 24th-place finish at Charlotte last Saturday driving the #51 Phoenix Racing Chevy, Allmendinger got another call this Monday morning. And another job in the #51 this weekend at Kansas Speedway. It's the new week-to-week, race-to-race reality for Allmendinger, who couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity -- a chance made possible because of the domino-effect of Kurt Busch leaving the team and Busch's initial replacement, Regan Smith, getting a seat filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is recovering from a concussion.

It's the small victories and feel-good moments that count most these days. Allmendinger insists the greatest lesson he learned while serving his suspension was that he needed to re-prioritize his life, to find perspective. He completed NASCAR's Road to Recovery program and maintains that his positive test came after he mistakenly took an Adderall pill -- which is often prescribed for attention deficit disorder. In his case, Allmendinger insists there wasn't a substance-abuse issue. He needed to address his decision-making. "This schedule is so insane, you don't ever have time to fix anything away from the race track,'' Allmendinger explained. "And if you do, all you're thinking about is fixing the stuff at the race track. I'm by no means a perfect person, but I know I need to work on it. Over the three months, it made me realize how much I really do enjoy being here and how much I missed it. When it's going bad, I put so much pressure on myself. And driving for Roger Penske was a dream come true and then everything just wasn't happening right."

Allmendinger knows that his future is tenuous -- both short-term and long-term. He said he is talking with teams about a ride in 2013, but there simply aren't many vacant seats; certainly not many quality vacant seats. He recognizes that his behavior has probably frightened some sponsors but is hopeful his candor and repentance will attract a company ready to capitalize on his second chance. In the near-term, he doesn't even know where he will be next week. Phoenix Racing general manager Steve Barkdoll was non-committal. NASCAR.com
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