News & Media

Allmendinger suspended after failing drug test

July 07, 2012, David Caraviello,

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- AJ Allmendinger has been suspended temporarily by NASCAR for failing a random drug test.

Allmendinger's Penske Racing team put Nationwide Series regular Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 22 car for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, according to a statement. Allmendinger underwent a random drug test administered last weekend at Kentucky Speedway, and his 'A' sample from that test came up positive, according to Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president for racing operations.

* O'Donnell announces Allmendinger's suspension

O'Donnell added that Allmendinger had 72 hours to request a test of his 'B' sample, per the NASCAR rule book. If he declines that test, or if that test also comes up positive, his suspension will become indefinite.

The Penske team said NASCAR notified it of Allmendinger's suspension Saturday afternoon. "NASCAR has a strict drug testing program that Penske Racing fully supports," the team said in a statement. "Penske Racing will work with NASCAR through this process and its next steps. Sam Hornish Jr. will drive the No. 22 car in tonight's Coke Zero 400."

Allmendinger's Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, added on Twitter: "No comments on 22 car tonight as we focus on tonight's race. Thank [you] in advance."

Hornish had returned to the Charlotte, N.C., area after Friday night's Nationwide race at Daytona, and was flying back to the speedway late Saturday afternoon.

Allmendinger is the highest-profile driver to test positive under NASCAR's substance-abuse policy since Jeremy Mayfield did so in 2009. Rather than submit to NASCAR's path to reinstatement -- which varies depending on the individual, and can include further medical evaluation or treatment -- Mayfield filed suit against the sanctioning body, precipitating a drawn-out legal tussle that ended when his case was dismissed by a federal court earlier this year.

Allmendinger, in his first season with Penske, was hired to drive the No. 22 car after Kurt Busch parted ways with the organization late last year. He stood 23rd in Sprint Cup standings entering Saturday night's event. Hornish endured a rocky tenure at the Sprint Cup level before finding his footing in the Nationwide Series, where he is currently fourth in championship points.

Watch AJ Allmendinger's season highlights below: