AJ Allmendinger suspended prior to Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

A season that started with so much promise for AJ Allmendinger has come tumbling down.

Just shy of two before the green flag fell on the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, NASCAR sensor vice president of racing Steve O’Donnell announced that Allmendinger has been temporarily suspended for because of a failed drug test.

Allmendinger had been chosen as the random driver to be tested last weekend in Kentucky. It was then found that his “A” sample tested positive. O’Donnell announced the suspension but did not take any questions.

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“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,” stated the press release from NASCAR. “Pursuant of 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.”

Penske then announced that Sam Hornish Jr. will be the replacement driver for Allmendinger. Hornish, who drives for Penske full-time in the Nationwide Series, was already back home in Charlotte. He immediately boarded a plane and landed back in Daytona and made it to pit road by 7:31 p.m., as pre-race activities began. Had he not made it, Kenny Wallace would have gotten behind the wheel. Wallace was already on standby for Kevin Harvick who is expecting his first child with wife DeLana.

Should Allmendinger not request his “B” sample tested or if it comes back positive, he will go from temporarily to indefinitely suspended. Allmendinger is in his first season with Penske, having signed after Kurt Busch was released after the 2011 season.

The team had high hopes of Allmendinger success, but the season has been rocky. Prior to Saturday night’s race Allmendinger sat 22nd in points with only three top 10s and one top five.

In their released statement Penske Racing officials said, “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.”

A NSCS driver has not been suspended for a failed drug test since 2009. It was announced before the Darlington race in May that Jeremy Mayfield had been suspended. Mayfield is still in a battle with NASCAR over the failed test.

As of race time, Allmendinger had not yet offered a statement.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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