AJ Allmendinger: Suspension over Failed Drug Test Gives NASCAR a Black Eye

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2012

LONG POND, PA - JUNE 07: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge stands in the garage during testing for the new track surface at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2012 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger was suspended for Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway for failing a random drug test administered before the event.

While NASCAR would not say what drug triggered the positive results, they made it clear that it is a temporary suspension that can be appealed by taking a second test within 72 hours of the first.

If the second test also comes back positive or he doesn’t take the test, Allmendinger will be suspended indefinitely.

As for the No. 22 car, the team was on short notice with the announcement of Allmendinger’s suspension coming at the track and had to find a backup driver fast. The Penske organization called former Indy Car champion Sam Hornish Jr. who arrived nine minutes before the green flag waved.

While the 33rd-place finish wasn’t great, for a man that was already back in North Carolina when the call came in about having to start on Saturday night, Hornish was the one bright spot of this whole situation for NASCAR and Penske Racing.

Allmendinger’s Team owner Roger Penske told the Washington Post about the team’s plan of attack on this whole situation:

You know it’s a disappointment at this particular time, but we’re going to wait and see what the second test results are before we make any comment or decisions. I don’t think it’s fair to him. I think if you look at sports, things like this happen. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t want to really make a statement pro or con right now. I’m counting on the test being proper for him within 72 hours, and at that point they’ll make a decision.

If this suspension is upheld, Allmendinger will become the ninth driver suspended for failing a drug test; the most notable of these cases was former Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield.

It’s hard to tell what the sport of NASCAR is dealing with here because of the chance for a re-test, but the number of suspensions is something that should be of a major concern for the officials around the racing series.

With the vast number of drivers that have participated in all levels of the series, the low number of suspensions is fine, but the number needs to be zero. In a sport that has humans inside cars going over 200 miles per hour, every person must be at their best physically and mentally.

Allmendinger’s suspension causes concern for all 42 other drivers and teams, which means they will be vocal about their displeasure. That will be the ultimate black eye.


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