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AJ Allmendinger fails NASCAR drug test, suspended; Sam Hornish Jr. fills in on short notice

AJ Allmendinger fails NASCAR drug test, suspended; Sam Hornish Jr. fills in on short notice

AJ Allmendinger (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   AJ Allmendinger, a five-year Sprint Cup tour veteran running this season for legendary Roger Penske, failed a routine NASCAR drug test last weekend, and NASCAR announced a 'temporary' suspension here Saturday night just hours before the Coke 400.
   NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell made the announcement at 6 p.m. ET, but he took no questions.
   Allmendinger, a popular, well-liked racer, this season took over the ride that Kurt Busch held the past few years, a team sponsored by Shell, and considered one of the best financial sponsorships in the sport.
   NASCAR declined to take questions on the issue or to identify the substance involved.
   Allmendinger "has been temporarily suspended from NASCAR competition based on notification of a positive "A" test NASCAR received from the medical review officer," NASCAR's O'Donnell said, reading a prepared statement. "Allmendinger has the opportunity to request within the next 72 hours that his "B" sample be tested."

   Penske quickly installed a new seat in the Cup car for a substitute driver. Sam Hornish Jr., a Penske driver, was trying to fly to Daytona to wheel the car in the 400. He landed at Daytona Beach Airport, next door to the track, at 7:27 p.m. ET.

   Sam Hornish Jr. jets in just prior to the 400 to take the Penske ride (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   There was no immediate response from Allmendinger himself or Penske. In a statement Penske said "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."

   One question now is how Penske himself will react, and whom he might put in the high-profile ride while awaiting resolution by NASCAR and Allmendinger.

   The easiest solution for Penske of course is Hornish, 33, a three-time Indy-car champion with 19 wins, and a NASCAR racer with Penske since 2006 though still not a tour winner. Hornish, after four lackluster Cup seasons, dropped down to Nationwide racing this year.

   Since NASCAR instituted its strict drug abuse policy five years ago, a number of drivers and crewmen in its various series have been suspended, many reinstated after following a NASCAR 'recovery' plan. Well-known racer Randy LaJoie was suspended last year and then reinstated, for example.

    Among the most well-known penalized have been Jeremy Mayfield and Shane Hmiel. Mayfield has been involved in a major legal battle with NASCAR over his suspension since it was announce in May 2009. Hmiel was suspended for life.

   Allmendinger is the most well-known driver to be so suspended since Mayfield.

    It is not just major league drivers that NASCAR tests for drugs.

   NASCAR began taking a very strong position on drug abuse in 2008, and it says it tests 15 or so people at random each race weekend. The sanctioning body has been very open about releasing information about each violation, and its rule book has several pages specifically devoted to the drug policy.

   NASCAR says the test that Allmendinger failed was administered last weekend at Kentucky Speedway. It typically takes a few days to get the results of those tests.

    Hornish had been at Daytona for Friday's Nationwide race and only flew back to Charlotte late Saturday. He was scheduled to land here just moment before the start of the 400.

   Allmendinger has never won a Sprint Cup tour event, but he finished second at Martinsville in April, and teammate Brad Keselowski has won three times already this season.

   The evolution of the current NASCAR substance abuse policy -- which includes a very involved testing process -- came in 2007 when a driver was arrested for possession of heroin and admitted using it on race days. Drivers then began pressuring NASCAR to tighten up its drug policy and drug testing procedures.  
   NASCAR executives describe their drug policy as "the toughest" in the entire world of sports.


   AJ Allmendinger winning Sprint All-Star Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)









Wildest Firecracker 400

This is the Wildest Firecracker 400 and it is not good. The 48 Hours like Mojo of Dingers Suspension is bad timing and we where left with bitter memories of how Fike's Arrest 5 Years that Day led to our present Drug Policy. I like the Movie Styled Coverage to a point, but, what about reengaging the commoners?

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