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Sam Hornish, Jr. angling heavily to drive the No. 22 Dodge he rest of the season? The ink hasn’t even dried on the paperwork to test AJ Allmendinger’s “B” sample but Hornish is acting like the man’s been put on the street. While adamantly claiming “no disrespect to AJ,” in the next breath he’s pushing to saddle up in the No. 22 straight through November.
“This is definitely not the way that I would like to do it,” said the Indiana native to ESPN’s David Newton on the subject. “But at the end of the day, I feel like with the way things have been in racing lately, I feel like you take what you can get at this point and time.”
I agree with Sam … to a point. We’re not talking about a temporary fill-in from another manufacturer coming in, having a good first week and then trying to get back in the game. We’re talking about someone’s teammate. It’s intriguing to me that a guy who sits in the same meetings, pledging to work with a person hand-in-hand would so publicly angle for their full-time position before there’s any sort of conclusive decision on the drug test. What’s going to happen if it comes back negative? Sam sees AJ walk into a meeting and blurt out, “Sorry for trying to steal your job, dude! I just thought if you were a druggie…”
It’s a statement that speaks far deeper than the current state of racing today, where limited funding leaves people cat fighting anytime a top-tier opportunity comes into play. Say what you want about Hendrick Motorsports, their teammate collusion through the years posing a whole new set of problems with the sport, but you would never hear that type of internal talk go public in the face of one of their drivers getting pulled. That type of camaraderie has changed the NASCAR game but has never been a “must” at Penske, which has dealt with teammate divisiveness ever since the days of Rusty Wallace and Jeremy Mayfield. I’ve noticed teammate Brad Keselowski, in marked contrast to his support of Kurt Busch even after November’s temper tantrum has preached controlled, intentional radio silence. Where is the “Oh my God! AJ’s such a great guy! We’re going to help him through this mess!” from some of the people who’ve worked with him over there. Nothing is stopping these people from preaching positive while they wait for the final results to come out.
At least AJ’s mom “tweeted her support”: https://twitter.com/kadinger17 Tuesday night, claiming there is no doubt in her mind AJ would never take an illegal drug. Too bad she’s on an island when it comes to the list of people who really matter for her son’s future employment. It makes me think even more that this relationship is irreparably damaged, no matter how this “B” sample turns out and that the sources claiming AJ wasn’t the right “personality fit” at Penske have truth behind those words. frontstretch.com
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