From Celebration to Conviction: AJ Allmendinger's Future With RPM

Sean CostelloContributor IOctober 31, 2009

Mere hours after finding out he was to inherit the famed No. 43, AJ Allmendinger was arrested this morning in North Carolina for driving under the influence.

Around two in the morning, Allmendinger was pulled over by police in Mooresville, NC. After blowing a .08 on a field sobriety test, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.

This all comes after finding out he would be inheriting the No. 43, made famous by Richard Petty himself and sponsored by Best Buy in the 2010 Sprint Cup season.

The penalties have been severe. In today's practice at Talledega Superspeedway, Allmendinger was administered a field sobriety test before being allowed to drive the No. 44. In addition, he has been placed on probation by NASCAR officials and fined $10,000 to be donated to charity.

When asked about what happened, Allmendinger said, "Honest truth, I had a couple of drinks at dinner and a couple that night. I honestly thought I was fine. I had been drinking water for an hour and a half at that point and figured I was OK to drive home. I unfortunately got pulled over and it went from there.

"It was my fault. It was a bad decision. I wish I could take it back. I'd do anything to take it back. All I can do is go out there and learn from it and be a lot better person from it, which I will be. And hopefully educate other people you don't have to be having a ton of drinks to be feeling like you're drunk. It only takes a little bit to be over the limit.''

This situation, however, calls into question Allmendinger's future with Richard Petty Motorsports. Richard Petty has always been very touchy on the subject of alcohol. With the exception of Kasey Khane, no car on Richard Petty Motorsports has ever had an alcohol sponsor.

When asked Petty said: "I am deeply disappointed this has happened. AJ has accepted full responsibility for his actions and will work to make this right."

It will take some work to earn back the trust of the law...AJ lost his licence for 30 days. But more important, for someone who drives cars for a living, is earning back the trust of your team owners, crew and your fans.

At least through his troubles, AJ is hopeful: "It's not the first I've ever made. It's the biggest mistake I've made to this magnitude. A lot of people make mistakes and get a second opportunity.''

However the question stands: Will we see AJ in the seat of the No. 43 next season or will this mistake make his opportunity to be part of the No. 43's legacy go up in smoke?


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.