Allmendinger on road to recovery

A.J. Allmendinger is set to enter a NASCAR rehab program after his second sample tested positive...

A.J. Allmendinger is set to enter a NASCAR rehab program after his second sample tested positive for a banned substance. (Getty Images)

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:32 PM ET

Sprint Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger will enter a NASCAR drug rehab program immediately after a “B” sample of his urine tested positive for a banned substance.

The former open-wheel driver and the 2006 winner of the Honda Indy Toronto was suspended indefinitely from the NASCAR Sprint Cup series late Tuesday after a “B” sample came back positive for what is believed to be a banned stimulant.

Allmendinger was on a temporary suspension when his “A” sample, taken after a Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway on June 29th, tested positive for a banned substance.

The driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Dodge asked that his “B” sample — taken at the same time — be tested to see if a mistake had been made.

That result was also positive.

Allmendinger’s business manager, Tara Ragan, issued a statement Wednesday that Allmendinger would enter NASCAR’s Road to Recovery Program immediately so he can seek reinstatement.

“While we await further information from testing to determine the cause (of the failed test), we have notified NASCAR that A.J. will participate in the Road to Recovery Program starting immediately,” she said.

NASCAR also issued a statement saying it was “very pleased” Allmendinger has chosen to participate in the program.

“It’s designed, as proven, to provide a road map leading to a return to competition, and we wish him the best of luck,” the statement said. “As we have with other competitors, we look forward to the day when the program administrator recommends him for reinstatement.”

That program involves Allmendinger working with a dug rehab professional on a plan that includes substance abuse counselling and treatment. He would also have to undergo regular drug tests when, and if, he is allowed back in NASCAR.

The question, however, is whether the image conscious Sprint Cup series — especially the Penske Racing squad — would take a chance on Allmendinger after such a black mark.

Allmendinger himself indicated in a series of tweets to his fans early Wednesday that he plans to do everything he can to get back into a Sprint Cup race car.

“I just want to say thank you first and foremost for all of (you) sticking by me,” he said. “Please don’t think me being (suspended) means I haven’t been reading all (your) support. And man, it means more than (you will) ever know. I’m sorry we even have to have this going on. But I promise I will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this and get back out there no matter what. Thanks guys.”

There is a slim chance that Allmendinger might be able to convince NASCAR that he ingested the banned substance by mistake.

Ragan said Allmendinger would also pursue that route.

“We have secured the services of an independent lab to conduct thorough testing on every product within A.J.’s home and motor coach to find what might collaborate with his test, which created results that were within nanograms of accepted standards,” she said. “We continue to be extremely grateful by the breadth and scope of support for A.J. from his fans and partners. We expect to have further updates in the upcoming days.”

Penske, who has had Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 22 Dodge the past two Cup races, also issued a statement that said it would make a decision soon on Allmendinger’s future with the team.

“In accordance with NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy, Penske Racing was notified ... of A.J. Allmendinger’s positive B sample test,” the statement read. “We respect NASCAR’s policy and the process they have taken with this matter. Penske Racing is very disappointed with the result of the B sample test and will evaluate its course of action as it pertains to A.J. over the coming week.

“Sam Hornish Jr., will drive the No. 22 Dodge Charger this weekend at Indianapolis and next weekend at Pocono.”

And Shell — the primary sponsor of Allmendinger’s team also issued a statement.

“Shell and Pennzoil believe that the process and procedures that NASCAR has in place as part of their substance abuse policy are appropriate and serve to ensure that the sport and its participants are held to the highest standards,” it read. “We share Penske Racing’s disappointment with the result of A.J.’s B sample test and will work closely with them to determine plans moving forward. We hope for the best for A.J. during this difficult time.”

Allmendinger signed a one-year-deal at the beginning of the 2012 season after replacing Kurt Busch — who had his own problems — in the No. 22 Dodge.

Prior to his suspension Allmendinger had earned $2,577,390 US this season and was 23rd in points with one pole, one Top 5 and three Top 10 finishes.


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