Since we broke the news on Twitter before Saturday night’s race that A.J. Allmendinger was being replaced by Sam Hornish, the Dinger’s world has come apart. NASCAR announced he had failed a drug test, and Allmendinger has since requested the B sample be tested and admitted he tested positive for a stimulant. Penske has tabbed Hornish to again pilot the #22 Dodge this weekend at Loudon, but beyond that we don’ t know. If Allmendinger isn’t able to work this out with NASCAR, and is indeed out for an extended period of time, it is very likely that his career in NASCAR is all but over.
Before this season Allmendinger sought, and was granted his release from Richard Petty Motorsports to pursue the Penske opening. He was signed to replace Kurt Busch, but only to a one year deal. Dinger would serve as a stop gap for Penske until they could either find another driver, or Allmendinger flourished.
Unfortunately for A.J. though, this season has not gone well. His 23rd spot in the points combined with an average finish of 20.6 meant his chances of retaining the 22 seat were probably not good anyway. But now with a failed drug test on his record, there is no way Penske keeps him, barring some sort of miraculous reversal by NASCAR.
So now, with the failed test and a marginal record on track, his career options will be extremely limited. No big team or sponsor will take a chance on him, which leaves the start-and-park teams, or a move to a different (and probably lower) series.
For a guy that only a few years ago appeared to have huge potential, it really is a shame. Whether he knowingly ingested something banned or not, we are all responsible for what we put into our bodies. In any case, I hope he is able to get this worked out and get back on his feet.