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Allmendinger’s NASCAR career hangs in the balance

By admin | July 8, 2012

By Richard Allen


During the 2011-2012 NASCAR off season, A.J. Allmendinger got the break of his racing lifetime when he was selected to replace Kurt Busch in the #22 Dodge for Penske Racing. The organization had reached the end of its patience with their often controversial driver and severed ties with him. Then, they turned to Allmendinger to assume the driving chores.

Up to that point, Allmendinger’s career record was not necessarily one that would have warranted such an elite ride. But the oddity of the situation provided a golden opportunity.

But just prior to the running of Saturday’s Sprint Cup race in Daytona, the sanctioning body announced that Allmendinger had tested positive for a banned substance. The violation calls for a temporary suspension until a second sample can be tested. Immediately, the driver was removed from the Penske Racing driver roster and, for the time being, replaced by Sam Hornish, Jr.

Obviously, I do not know what Allmendinger tested positive for as NASCAR has not released that information. But what I do know is that the driver’s career hangs in the balance as the results of that second test are awaited.

I know this because there is a well documented example of what can happen to a driver who tests positive a second time. Jeremy Mayfield failed one drug test back in 2009 and then again tested positive with his “B” sample days later. Despite exhausting a number of legal avenues, Mayfield has essentially disappeared from the NASCAR scene.

If indeed Allmendinger’s second test offers the same result as Mayfield’s, there is little reason to believe his fate will be any different.

There have been instances of people within NASCAR failing drug tests and then returning to the sport. But those examples come from crew members and other people associated with teams. Sponsors don’t make the jack man or front tire carrier the face of their product. They associate themselves with the driver. And a driver who has failed a drug test can be poison to potential sponsors.

It really won’t matter very much whether Allmendinger tested positive for excessive use of a cold remedy, marijuana, a performance enhancer or an illegal narcotic. If the “B” sample to be tested on either Monday or Tuesday returns positive, he will be branded as a guy who failed a drug test. The courts of public opinion, garage area opinion and sponsor opinion can be very harsh on such a label.

One positive test is not necessarily a death warrant for one‘s career. Milwaukee Brewers baseball star Ryan Braun had his imposed suspension overturned earlier this year when it was revealed that his sample was mishandled. But needless to say, A.J. Allmendinger’s racing career hangs in the balance and this week will go a long way toward deciding which way it falls.

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18 Responses to “Allmendinger’s NASCAR career hangs in the balance”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 4:07 am

    I really wish that my Ragan-Reutimann Argument came true because I wanted to have either David Ragan or David Reutimann to replace Kurt Busch. I doubt AJ Allemindinger will have the same luck as Ryan Braun and I feel that Penske would cut ties with Dinger.

  2. z'hills fan Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 5:52 am

    If Dinger’s second test is positive he will have no recourse but to leave NASCAR. There is no excuse for him if in fact he does use a banned substance. I bet Penske is fuming now.

  3. Sue Rarick Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 6:15 am

    I’d hate to be Shell/Penziol. I’m pretty sure in the world of Nascar today they had a major part in picking AJ over Ragan and Rootie. They also wanted Kurt gone.

    So when all is said and done they replaced a loid mouth with a drug user. Not the wisest of moves.

    Hopefully AJ was just dumb enough to use some cold or allergy medicine that was banned. Stupid but a heck of a lot less damaging than an illegal drug. Still, it sukz to be Shell/Penzoil today.

  4. Josie Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Listening to Penske during an interview yesterday, I got the feeling if AJ’s B test is positive he’s gone. It will be interesting to see what unfolds as I find it difficult to believe AJ would take a chance to lose his seat at Penske. Dinger hasn’t had the greatest season..this is is 5th year driving, and he’s only shown glimpses of greatness. If his name was Johnson, Stewart, Gordon, etc etc he would still have a ride…but at this point I hope for his sake his B test is clean. I must say though..from a fans standpoint it DOES matter what the substance he (may have) taken is. I feel alot different about cough syrup and pot as opposed to coke or heroin ……

  5. Russ Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 6:40 am

    It could be my imagination but the media seems to be giving A.I. A lot more benefit of the doubt than they did Mayfield.

    But a failed drug test combined with no wins pretty much ensures the end of a career.

  6. Bill B Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 6:52 am

    In a sport so dependent on corporate sponsorship the announcement of the failed test itself might cast enough of a shadow to end Allmendinger’s career.

  7. Joe Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Unless that “b” sample comes back clean AND NASCAR apologizes for the mixup or whatever they want to call it the Dinger’s racing career at the top levels is essentially over. The “perception” is going to hurt regardless but if the b sample is positive as well he can fugetaboutit

  8. Russ Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Failed drug test combined with no wins spells the end of a major league career.

    Interesting to see how much more of a “wait and see” attitude a lot of the media have with this as opposed to Mayfield. Think it could be because of the influence of Penske?

  9. Tyler West Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 8:21 am

    He needs to be FIRED!! Hell, at least Kurt wasn’t a drug abuser. Kurt gets drawn and quartered for being a passionate driver. Allmendinger is not what the sport needs. I agree with Tony, Ragan or Reutimann should have replaced Busch in the Pennzoil Dodge, not this guy. But they didn’t have the “image” that Nascar is pushing. Well how is that working now? Hit the bricks Allmendinger. Way to blow a golden opprotunity. I can’t stand to see guys waste chances. Hopefully he’s not the next Mayfield, which was a shame as well.

  10. Jesse Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Really sad, A.J. had so much going for him and you hope it’s a mix up, saw him in CART and this guy had it. I don’t think his image can be good from now on.

  11. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I would assume that Hornish will finish the season in the #22 or at least all the Sprint races that do not conflict with Nationwide?

  12. Brian Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 9:00 am

    With the Mayfield situation, the positive drug test was for methamphetamines. I think everyone acknowledges that you can’t have a meth-head driving a race car.

    In this case, we have no indication what the offending substance is, but let’s just consider the most likely: marijuana. If that’s what it turns out to be, should he be out of the car for good? Just asking the question. Remember, we have had presidents that have used illegal drugs or had substance abuse problems at some point in their lives.

    I wonder if it makes sense to kick the guy out of the sport forever if he just smoked a joint on a Monday after a race or something, if he is willing to do some kind of a treatment program, and promises to never, ever do it again.

  13. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 10:18 am

    If anyone would stop and readNA$CAR list of drugs and all that are on there then this is B/S per sey. Great artical in another post that ever the common headache meds will show +. NA$CAR testing is a joke.

  14. Larry Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Well, I don’t know what Roger will do if AJ tests positive again. But, I do think Nascar has a rehab program and if you successfully complete that program you can be reinstated. It’s possible if AJ does that he could keep his ride or get another ride. It may be hard but still possible if he gets clean. Guess we’ll see but to throw away a multi million dollar job because of some drugs has to be one of the most stupid things you could do.

  15. Mike J. Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I think everyone is too quick with the guilty verdict. These tests are not infallible. There is such a thing as a false positive. An innocuous substance like ibuprofen can cause a false positive for THC. Maybe AJ deserves the benefit of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ before rushing to judgement.

  16. Offkilter Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    These deals usually don’t come out so well for the testee. I have no clue how these drug screens are run or the turn around on results, but if it was possible, you’d think a discreet retest before the next driving duty would be best for all parties involved. Fail #2 and announce the suspension…. Pass #2 dont announce anything and nascar has no egg on face and the dinger suffers no bad image.

  17. Bill B Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    RE: “Kurt gets drawn and quartered for being a passionate driver.”

    No, Kurt gets drawn and quartered for being a DH.

  18. tom Says:
    July 9th, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    My continued employment is predicated on a NO DRUG USE understanding between me and my employer. NASCAR’s wild and wooly past had to end when it adopted “Corporate Sponsorship”. Yeah, Curtis Turner (???)drove a rental car into a motel swimming pool whilst hammered. But how much media coverage did NASCAR have back in 1954? Not much, if any. This is BIG-BUCKS and once you sign on to this particular circus, you understand that your life is in a fishbowl thereafter. And I DO NOT BELIEVE that there is NOT a list out there SOMEWHERE of what substances NOT TO TAKE if you want to avoid a “false negative” drug-test. If the company you work for makes a bad decision by sponsoring a driver and that driver screws up, maybe sales tank and people lose their jobs. Sorry for AJ, but that’s life.