|AJ Allmendinger not smiling right now (See feature article on Home Page for more)|
A.J. Allmendinger was silent Sunday, a day after NASCAR suspended him for failing a random drug test. Penske Racing, which gave Allmendinger the biggest break of his career this season, is withholding judgment until NASCAR's system has been completed. Where that leaves the 30-year-old driver remains to be seen. There is no second test coming for Allmendinger, who was randomly summoned June 29 in Kentucky to provide a urine sample to NASCAR. Per NASCAR guidelines, the specimen was split in two for an "A'' and a "B'' samples. NASCAR announced 90 minutes before Saturday night's race at Daytona that Allmendinger's "A'' sample had failed the test.
NASCAR didn't reveal what Allmendinger tested positive for, and Allmendinger hasn't commented publicly since the announcement. According to Allmendinger's Twitter feed, he was making appearances on behalf of sponsor Shell/Pennzoil less than two hours before the suspension was announced at 6 p.m. But NASCAR clarified the timelines Sunday, and said its medical review officer first alerted Allmendinger of his positive test approximately six hours earlier. NASCAR was informed by the MRO about 2:30 p.m., and met with Allmendinger and a senior Penske official shortly after. The team owner indicated Sunday that Hornish is available to drive Allmendinger's car, but that the organization had yet to think beyond Daytona.
"We haven't made any (decisions). He was obviously our first choice for yesterday," Penske said. "I was out of the country and came in last night and obviously got word on the way over what had happened. The big thing was to get Sam in the car so we could get in the race, which obviously was tight. Associated Press
If A.J. Allmendinger's suspension by NASCAR becomes indefinite, Sam Hornish Jr. wants to continue his role as replacement. "If that's the case, then I want to be back in the Cup Series," Hornish told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview Sunday. "I'm fully on board with it. I can't think of any reason I wouldn't want to drive that car. I'll do whatever it takes to get back there." Of getting promoted on a longer-term basis in the #22 Dodge, Hornish said, "Obviously, we have a contractual commitment to the Nationwide Series, and some of their races aren't at the same site as Cup races, so that will be an issue." Hornish declined to comment about Allmendinger's situation, except to say he hadn't spoken to the driver and was shocked by Saturday's announcement. USA Today
07/07/12 Just hours before the Coke Zero 400, NASCAR has announced that AJ Allmendinger has failed a random drug test and has been pulled from the seat of the No. 22 Shell Dodge. Sam Hornish Jr. will be his replacement, and had to fly to Daytona from Charlotte with barely two hours' notice.
NASCAR tested Allmendinger during the Kentucky race weekend. According to NASCAR Vice President Steve O'Donnell, Allmendinger's "A" sample tested positive; according to NASCAR, he has the right to request a test of his "B" sample within 72 hours. O'Donnell spoke to the media at 6 p.m. Eastern but took no questions. There was no indication of what substance triggered the failure.
Allmendinger has been "temporarily suspended," with no word on how long he will be out.
"NASCAR notified Penske Racing this afternoon that AJ Allmendinger was administered a drug test earlier this week, and those results tested positive," Penske said in a statement. "NASCAR has a strict drug testing program that Penske Racing fully supports. Penske Racing will work with NASCAR through this process and its next steps. Sam Hornish Jr., will drive the No. 22 car in tonight's Coke Zero 400."
Allmendinger's teammate Brad Keselowski responded almost immediately on Twitter, noting "No comments on 22 car tonight as we focus on tonight's race. Thank u in advance." Yahoo.com
The team found out about the suspension at about 5 p.m. ET, giving it only a few hours before the 7:53 p.m. green flag to find a replacement.
The team scrambled to put Hornish's seat and adjusting the pedals and steering column while hoping Hornish could get to the track in time to start the race.
About 50 minutes before the green flag, Kenny Wallace was being led to the Penske car. Wallace, standing by for Kevin Harvick in case Harvick's wife goes into labor, said he was the Penske backup plan if Hornish doesn't arrive to start the race.
07/07/12 NASCAR Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger has been temporarily suspended by the sanctioning body after failing a random drug test.
NASCAR senior vice president Steve O’Donnell made the announcement Saturday evening at Daytona International Speedway prior to the Coke Zero 400 race.
Allmendinger was scheduled to start eighth in the race.
Official Announcement: Driver AJ Allmendinger has been temporarily suspended from NASCAR competition based upon notification of a positive "A" test NASCAR received from the Medical Review Officer as stated in Section 19-11B (6,7) of the NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy. Pursuant to the rule book, Allmendinger has the opportunity to request within the next 72 hours that his "B" sample be tested. NASCAR will follow its policies and procedures set forth in the rule book in dealing with this matter. NASCAR
Penske Statement: "NASCAR notified Penske Racing this afternoon that AJ Allmendinger was administered a drug test earlier this week, and those results tested positive. NASCAR has a strict drug testing program that Penske Racing fully supports. Penske Racing will work with NASCAR through this process and its next steps. Sam Hornish will drive the No. 22 car in (Saturday's) Coke Zero 400." Penske Racing