|08-01-2012, 09:32 AM||#1|
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Penske drops AJ Allmendinger
Updated: August 1, 2012, 12:30 PM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Suspended Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger was released by Penske Racing on Wednesday.
Allmendinger, who drove the No. 22 Shell Penzoil Dodge, was indefinitely suspended last Tuesday after his 'B' sample urine test supported his original test that was positive for amphetamines.
"I apologize for the distraction, embarrassment and difficulties that my current suspension from NASCAR has provided,'' Allmendinger said in a statement. "As I stated last week, I have begun NASCAR's Road to Recovery program and look forward to using those resources and its completion to compete again in NASCAR in the near future."
The release didn't come as a surprise. Team owner Roger Penske said on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that he planned to meet with Allmendinger this week, noting others in his organization that have failed drug tests have been terminated.
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Even had Allmendinger not violated NASCAR's drug policy there was a good chance he wouldn't return in 2013. He had a one-year deal and was 23rd in points at the time of his initial suspension.
Penske Racing officials said Sam Hornish Jr. will remain in the No. 22 for the foreseeable future. Hornish has driven the past three races at Daytona, New Hampshire and Indianapolis that Allmendinger missed.
There are a couple of races where Hornish was committed to a third Penske Cup car with sponsors that will have to be evaluated. Penske has said those races could be used to try out other drivers.
"Penske Racing fully supports NASCAR's substance abuse policy and we are disappointed with AJ's positive drug test results," Penske said in a statement. "AJ is a terrific driver, a good person and it is very unfortunate that we have to separate at this time.
"We have invested greatly in AJ and we were confident in his success with our team. The decision to dismiss him is consistent with how we would treat any other Penske Racing team member under similar circumstances. As AJ begins NASCAR's 'Road to Recovery' program, we wish him the best and look forward to seeing him compete again in NASCAR."
Penske said he will evaluate his options for the 22 car in 2013. Among those expected to be interested outside of Hornish are Joey Logano, Brian Vickers and possibly Ryan Newman if sponsorship can't be found for him at Stewart Haas Racing.
Logano is in the final year of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs officials have said they want to re-sign him, but until sponsorship is found Logano said he's keeping all options open.
Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth, according to multiple sources, will take over Logano's No. 20 team with primary sponsor Home Depot and likely Dollar General in 2013.