Eager to resolve his suspension for a failed drug test, AJ Allmendinger said Tuesday that he has formally asked NASCAR to test his second urine sample and insisted that he would never “knowingly” take a prohibited substance.
Allmendinger was informed hours before Saturday night’s race at Daytona he had failed a random June 29 drug test. NASCAR does not disclose what substance was found, and Allmendinger and Penske Racing have not revealed details.
In his first statement since the suspension, Allmendinger confirmed Tuesday that he has requested his “B” sample be tested and is following the steps listed in the 2012 rule book regarding the drug testing policy.
“I fully respect NASCAR’s drug usage policy and the reasons they have it. I am hoping this can get resolved as quickly as possible so that I can get back to driving the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge,” he said. “I am sorry that this has caused such a distraction for my Penske Racing team, our sponsors and fans. Obviously I would never do anything to jeopardize my opportunity here at Penske Racing or to my fellow drivers. I am very conscious about my training and health, and would never knowingly take a prohibited drug.”
Team owner Roger Penske indicated he’s supporting Allmendinger.
“I’m more concerned about the individual than I am the circumstance,” Penske said on NASCAR’s Sirius XM Radio channel. “Long term, one way or the other, he’s a fighter, he’s a good race driver, and I’m sure he’ll be fine. This is a speed bump that neither one of us had contemplated, and we have to deal with it professionally.”
The 30-year-old driver was tested at Kentucky Speedway and informed eight days later by NASCAR’s medical review officer that he had failed the test. He had an opportunity to explain the results to the MRO before NASCAR was informed of the results.
Allmendinger and a senior Penske Racing official had a meeting with NASCAR after the sanctioning body was told of the result, and Allmendinger’s suspension was announced roughly 90 minutes before the start of the race.
Penske Racing flew Sam Hornish Jr. in from North Carolina to drive Allmendinger’s car, and Hornish has been tabbed to drive again this weekend at New Hampshire.
Allmendinger can only be re-instated for competition if the “B” sample is negative. Otherwise, his only option is to complete a rehabilitation program designed by Aegis Sciences Corp. in Nashville, Tenn.
■ NASCAR PENALTIES - NASCAR penalized two championship contenders – including suspensions for Nationwide Series driver Austin Dillon’s team – for problems found during qualifying last week at Daytona International Speedway.
Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart was docked six points and crew chief Steve Addington was fined $25,000 because of a cooling hose found inside Stewart’s car after his qualifying lap. Stewart forfeited his second-place qualifying spot, but still rallied to win Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race.
Addington and car chief Jeff Meendering were both placed on probation through Aug. 22, and listed car owner Margaret Haas was docked six championship owner points.
Stewart-Haas Racing said it would not appeal the penalties.
In the Nationwide Series, Dillon’s team was penalized for the second consecutive week. Like Stewart, his car was found to have a cooling hose inside of it during his qualifying run, and his time was also tossed out by NASCAR.
But because it’s the third time this season the No. 3, owned by Richard Childress Racing, has had an issue, NASCAR cracked down on the title contenders.
Crew chief Danny Stockman was fined $10,000, and he and car chief Robert Strmiska were both suspended through July 25, a span of two races. NASCAR said the suspensions were because Stockman and Strmiska had already been on probation since May 1.
Dillon was also docked six points for the second consecutive week, as was listed car owner Morgan Shepherd.
It’s a considerable hit for Dillon, who could be leading the point standings by four but is instead trailing Elliott Sadler by eight.
■ PATRICK-KANSAS – Danica Patrick filled out her 10-race Sprint Cup schedule for this season, choosing to run Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway.
Stewart-Haas Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing field the No. 10 Chevrolet for Patrick in a joint agreement. They decided Kansas was the best place for Patrick because it will be open for an additional day of practice due to its recent repave.
■ ARMY EXITS - The U.S. Army will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, effectively ending its sponsorship in NASCAR altogether after a decade.
SHR said it is pursuing a new sponsor.
The Army has been in NASCAR for 10 seasons and at one point was a primary sponsor. It moved to SHR to sponsor Ryan Newman in 2009 when the team was formed.
It’s not clear how the Army’s decision will affect SHR, which currently fields two full-time teams – one for three-time NASCAR champion and team co-owner Tony Stewart, and one for Newman.