(Getty Images)AJ Allmendinger has been indefinitely suspended by NASCAR after his "B" sample confirmed his positive test for a stimulant.
On June 30, Allmendinger was temporarily suspended by NASCAR after his "A" sample tested positive for an unapproved drug, which his representative characterized as a stimulant. Neither NASCAR nor Allmendinger's camp have revealed the specific reason for the positive test.
"On July 24, Allmendinger was found to have violated Sections 12-1 [actions detrimental to stock car racing] and 19 [NASCAR's substance abuse policy] of the 2012 NASCAR rule book," NASCAR said in the release.
"As outlined in the rule book, NASCAR next will provide Allmendinger a letter outlining a process for reinstatement. By agreeing to the letter, he will be allowed to participate in the Road to Recovery Program."
Sam Hornish, who has driven the Penske No. 22 the past two races in Allmendinger's absence, will continue to fill in Sunday at Indianapolis and the following week at Pocono, according to Penske Racing.
"Penske Racing was notified today of AJ Allmendinger's positive B sample test. We respect NASCAR's policy and the process they have taken with this matter," the team said in a statement.
"Penske Racing is very disappointed with the result of the B sample test and will evaluate its course of action as it pertains to AJ over the coming week."
According to a statement by Allmendinger representative Tara Ragan, the test was "within nanograms of accepted standards."
"This was not the news we wanted to hear and we will work to get to the source of what may have caused this," the statement from Ragan said. "To that end, we have secured the services of an independent lab to conduct thorough testing on every product within AJ's home and motor coach to find what might collaborate with his test, which created results that were within nanograms of accepted standards. We are working closely with NASCAR and Penske Racing to identify the next action steps in this process. ... We expect to have further updates in the upcoming days."
According to USA Today, "stimulants are defined as including amphetamine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Eve (MDEA), MDA, PMA, Phentermine and other amphetamine derivatives and related compounds" in the NASCAR rule book. (Many ingredients that fit into the above categories are legal. Allmendinger has an endorsement deal with the energy supplement "Fuel in a Bottle," but there is no indication that product had anything to do with the test results.)
Allmendinger signed a one-year contract with Penske to replace Kurt Busch after the 2011 season and had one top 5 and three top 10s through the first 17 races of the season. Allmendinger got his start in the Sprint Cup Series with the now defunct Red Bull Racing team and then moved to Richard Petty Motorsports before arriving at Penske. Allmendinger came to NASCAR from the also now defunct Champ Car World Series, where he won five races in 2006 and finished third in the points standings to current IndyCar drivers Sebastian Bourdais and Justin Wilson.
2012 had been viewed as a "prove-it" year of sorts for the driver, predicted by many to grab the first Sprint Cup Series win of his career and as a potential Chase dark horse. But now we've gone from wondering if and when Allmendinger will be in victory lane to if and when we will ever see him back in the Sprint Cup Series.
The last Sprint Cup Series driver to test positive under NASCAR's current drug testing policy was Jeremy Mayfield, who said that his positive test for methamphetamines was due to a combination of Adderall and Claritin-D. Mayfield has never been reinstated by NASCAR and was arrested in November for possession of meth and stolen property.
There is no timetable for Allmendinger's possible return if he elects to enroll in NASCAR's Road to Recovery program. And if he does elect to pursue legal action, there's also no telling when a resolution would be found. (Mayfield's legal battle with NASCAR stemming from his positive test ended after he declined to file a final appeal this spring.) No matter what his course of action, even if Allmendinger reveals the specific reason for the test and enters NASCAR's treatment program, the events of the last week won't be forgotten, but they'll be much easier to be forgiven.
Even upon possible reinstatement, there's no guarantee that a ride will be available for Allmendinger. Penske admitted that there were already inquiries about the availability of the No. 22, and without a win to his credit, there may not be any suitors for Allmendinger.