|A. J. Allmendinger|
The final test results are now in, earlier than expected, and sadly those results are more bad news for driver A J Allmendinger who was officially placed on indefinite suspension by NASCAR for violating their substance abuse policy.
The news came via a prepared press release, issued on the evening of July 24th at approximately 845 pm eastern time, from David Higdon, from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications, which said:
"A J Allmendinger, driver of the #22 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been suspended indefinitely from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body's substance abuse policy. On July 24th, Allmendinger was found to have violated Sections 12-1, (actions detrimental to stock car racing), and 19, (NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy), of the 2012 rule book. As outlined in the rule book, NASCAR will next provide Allmendinger a letter outlining a process for reinstatement. By agreeing to the letter, he will be allowed to participate in the Road To Recovery Program."
The driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge for Roger Penske Racing, was asked to submit a urine sample, via NASCAR's random selection process, during the Kentucky Speedway weekend, held in late June. During this process, a driver's urine is equally divided and placed into two separate containers labeled "sample A and sample B." The second container is stored and used in the event that a second laboratory test is required.
On July 7th, just prior to the start of the Sprint Cup race at Daytona, Allmendinger was informed that his sample A had tested positive for an ingredient listed on NASCAR's list of banned substances. The driver was immediately placed on temporary suspension.
Allmendinger officially exercised his right to have his sample B tested. It's believed that this back up test was performed sometime on the morning of July 24th with the test results confirmed later that same day despite the fact the results weren't expected until later in the week.
Also on July 24th, Penske Racing issued a prepared statement that read: " in accordance with NASCAR's Substance Abuse Policy, Penske Racing was notified of A J Allmendinger's positive B sample test. We respect NASCAR's policy and the process they have taken with this matter."
Regarding the status of the driver's future with Penske Racing, the statement said: "Penske Racing is very disappointed with the result of the B sample test and will evaluate it's course of action as it pertains to A J over the coming week."
The statement concluded with: "Sam Hornish Jr will drive the #22 Dodge Charger this weekend at Indianapolis and next weekend at Pocono." Hornish, a driver in a Penske Nationwide Series Dodge, was hurriedly placed into the substitute role at the July 7th at Daytona and has been driving the #22 Cup car since that time.
All this while Allmendinger has steadfastly denied knowingly using anything that was on NASCAR's list of banned substances. Tara Ragan, Vice President of Walldinger Racing a company that handles the driver's business management and public relations affairs, has supported that fact from the very beginning and felt the problem was linked to some form of supplement, either doctor prescribed or over the counter, that Allmendinger used in his physical fitness and/or nutrition program.
In a July 24th prepared statement from Walldinger racing, Ragan said: "this was not the news we wanted to hear and we will work to get to the source of what may have caused this. To that end, we have secured the services of an independent lab to conduct thorough testing on every product in A J's home and motor coach to find what might collaborate with his test, which created results that were within nanograms of accepted standards. We are working closely with NASCAR and Penske Racing to identify the next action steps in this process."
There has been no formal comment from NASCAR regarding the identity of the banned substance, or the amount found in the driver's lab tests, and they shouldn't comment on this matter.
Allmendinger was thrilled to be signed to a one year contract to drive for the legendary Roger Penske and regarded it as his best opportunity to advance his NASCAR career after coming to the sport from the open wheel ranks.
It's very hard to imagine that this driver would intentionally do anything to ruin his great American racing dream by using some form of so called recreational drugs. The theory that says the positive test results may have been attributed to a supplement from a fitness or nutrition product may turn out to be plausible.
While it will be interesting to see what the tests from the independent lab, hired by Walldinger Racing, turns up, it appears that Allmendinger's next best move might be a serious consideration towards cooperating with NASCAR's Road To Recovery Program.
As sad as this story has become, NASCAR again needs to be applauded for, in the name of safety, creating and enforcing a zero tolerance substance abuse policy.