News & Media

Reaction from others on Allmendinger is positive

September 21, 2012, Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR.COM,

Stewart, Gordon each support NASCAR's decision on reinstating former driver

LOUDON, N.H. -- AJ Allmendinger might still be considered a hot potato by some, but Tony Stewart doesn't believe the 30-year-old driver, no longer under suspension, is too hot for a NASCAR team to handle.

"I don't think so at all," said the reigning Sprint Cup champion, putting on his team owner's cap to discuss the driver who was cleared by NASCAR this week to resume his racing career after completing the Road to Recovery program.

AJ Allmendinger

Career NASCAR Statistics
Lead-Lap Fin.9027
Laps Led341817
Avg. Start19.819.120.6
Avg. Finish21.221.020.1

In fact, Stewart believes Allmendinger, 30, might still be a great fit for the right team.

"If anything, he's a good pick right now," Stewart said. "I think he's going to be hungry to go out and run well again. He was running well when he had the drama, so I think for somebody that's looking for somebody that's hungry and can get the job done, I think he's a good pick."

With a pole at Kansas Speedway and a second-place run at Martinsville, Allmendinger was 23rd in the Sprint Cup standings when he was suspended on July 7 after failing a random drug test. He was coming off consecutive ninth-place finishes at the time.

After positive test results for amphetamines, he was released by Penske Racing on Aug. 1.

As Sam Hornish Jr took over in Penske's No. 22 Dodge, Allmendinger took part in NASCAR's Road to Recovery program. He completed the program and was reinstated by NASCAR on Sept. 18.

"Obviously, NASCAR has reinstated him for a reason," Stewart said. "I don't see any problem [with him returning]."

Jeff Gordon says the expedient way in which Allmendinger went about earning his clearance to return "speaks volumes" about the driver's willingness and desire to get back into the sport.

"NASCAR wouldn't [reinstate him] unless they saw a lot out of AJ in [terms of] what his intentions and commitment are moving forward," Gordon said. "And I think that would build confidence in the garage area as well."

Whether or not Allmendinger returns to NASCAR -- or gets that opportunity -- remains to be season. He's been rumored to have opportunities in the IndyCar Series.

His greatest success behind the wheel came in open-wheel racing in 2006 when he won five races in a nine-race stretch in the Champ Car series.

Gordon said he hasn't spoken to Allmendinger since his reinstatement but presumes he is breathing a sigh of relief, looking forward and assessing all his options.

"I would sure think so," Gordon said.