AJ Allmendinger - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
AJ Allmendinger has finally made a statement concerning his temporary suspension from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition for use of a prohibited substance. The California-born driver failed a random drug test on June 29 at Kentucky Speedway and NASCAR has not yet disclosed the substance that he purportedly abused. Neither Allmendinger nor his employer, Penske Racing, have revealed any further details.
In his first comment since the suspension was announced two hours before the Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway on the evening of July 7th Allmendinger said, "I have informed NASCAR that I have requested that the "B" sample be tested." NASCAR takes two samples and reserves the second in the event of such a protest.
Following the steps according to NASCAR's 2012 rule book in regard to this situation Allmendinger stated, "I fully respect NASCAR's drug usage policy and the reasons they have it. I am hoping this can get resolved as quickly as possible so that I can get back to driving the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge. I am sorry that this has caused such a distraction for my Penske Racing team, our sponsors and fans," he continued.
Allmendinger did have a previous encounter with abuse, being cited for DUI three years ago and pleading no contest.
"Obviously," he said, "I would never do anything to jeopardize my opportunity here at Penske Racing or to my fellow drivers. I am very conscious about my training and health and would never knowingly take a prohibited drug."
Allmendinger, 30, was informed by NASCAR's medical review officer that he'd failed the test eight days after it was administered at Kentucky Speedway and had an opportunity to explain the results before NASCAR was informed. The suspension was announced and Penske Racing flew Sam Hornish Jr to Daytona Beach to drive last weekend - he's been tabbed for the No. 22 Sprint Cup car again this week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
If the "B" sample turns up negative, Allmendinger can be reinstated for competition. If not, his only option is complete a rehabilitation program designed by Aegis Sciences Corp in Nashville, TN. Allmendinger does have the right to watch the lab test at Aegis and he can also have an independent expert with him, if he desires.
Team owner Roger Penske told NASCAR's Sirius XM Channel on Tuesday, "We're standing behind him until we understand the results. I can't really say today what that's going to be. I'm hoping the second test will find him clean and we can move on from this situation."
Last December, AJ Allmendinger signed a single-year contract with Penske Racing to drive the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge; he was the replacement for Kurt Busch, whose run-ins with the team and the media forced his imminent departure.
On Wednesday, Allmendinger's spokesperson, Tara Ragan released the following statement: “In an effort to help our colleagues in the media report on this in a timely and accurate manner, we wanted to provide some additional details regarding AJ’s sample “A” test results. AJ tested positive for a stimulant," the statement said.
"He has no idea why the first test was positive, and he has never knowingly taken any prohibited substance. AJ is collecting his medicines and supplements for testing to determine whether an over the counter product caused his positive test. AJ respects NASCAR's testing program and he has requested that his "B" sample be tested as part of the process of getting to the bottom of this.
"We will have the opportunity to review all of the scientific data surrounding the test following the "B" sample test, but our understanding is that AJ's test was slightly above the threshold. As of this morning, we have not been given notice of when the testing of the “B” sample will take place. Thanks again for all of the support of our fans, team, and sponsors as we continue working through the process.”