LOUDON, N.H. — Team owner Roger Penske held out hope suspended NASCAR Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger will return to the No. 22 Dodge for the July 29 Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
That will happen, however, only if the test of a “B” sample fails to confirm the positive test of the “A” urine sample Allmendinger provided June 29 at Kentucky Speedway. Allmendinger tested positive for what his business manager, Tara Ragan, characterized as a “stimulant” and was suspended from NASCAR competition before the July 7 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.
Substituting for Allmendinger, Sam Hornish Jr. drove the No. 22 to a 22nd-place finish in Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“Obviously, this situation is disappointing because of the circumstances,” Penske said after Sunday’s drivers’ meeting at NHMS. “I’ve said it before. I’m more concerned about the individual than the situation, because that’ll take care of itself. There’ll be facts and figures, and there’ll be an outcome.
“I think, more importantly, if the results go (Allmendinger’s) way, meaning that he can get back in the car, he’ll be in the car at Indianapolis. If it’s not, then we’ll assess Sam’s availability.”
A test of Allmendinger’s “B” sample, which was collected at the same time as the “A” sample, had not been scheduled as of Sunday, according to Ragan.
Should Allmendinger’s “B” sample test result in an indefinite suspension from NASCAR competition, Penske has other options beyond Hornish, pending consultation with sponsor Shell/Pennzoil.
“We’ve had a lot of contacts, as you might expect,” said Penske, who also fields the No. 2 Dodge for Brad Keselowski in the Cup series, along with two NASCAR Nationwide Series cars. “It’s a great ride, great sponsor and, heck, we’ve got a great team. To me, we can’t run around with one car. We’ve got to have two, and you’d like to have three in this competitive environment that we’re in. Overall, we’re going to deal with it.”
Penske said he has been in touch with Allmendinger and hopes the issue can be resolved within the next two weeks.
“My communication with him is saying, ‘Look, we’re here, we’re anxious to get the results, we’re behind you, let’s stay that way, and we’ll deal with whatever the outcome is at the proper time,’ ” Penske said.