NASCAR has reinstated driver AJ Allmendinger after successful completion of the sanctioning body’s Substance Abuse Policy Road to Recovery program and he could be in line to replace Australian Ryan Briscoe in Penske Racing’s IndyCar Series program next season.
Allmendinger was suspended indefinitely from NASCAR competition after failing a drug test administered June 29 at Kentucky Speedway.
Allmendinger was suspended temporarily July 7 when the “A” sample of his urine specimen tested positive for what his representatives subsequently said was amphetamine. The suspension became indefinite on July 24, after Allmendinger’s “B” sample confirmed the positive test.
Allmendinger was later released by Penske Racing’s NASCAR team, with Sam Hornish Jr taking over his seat in the #22 Dodge from July’s Daytona race. Joey Logano has since secured the drive for 2013.
Team boss Roger Penske has been quoted as saying that he would consider Allmendinger for one of his IndyCar Series rides and that might not be good news for Briscoe, who currently drives for Penske along alongside compatriot Will Power and Brazilian Helio Castroneves.
Ironically, Allmendinger was on the ground for the final round of the IndyCar Series at Fontana at the weekend, where Power lost the championship to America Ryan Hunter-Reay – who reportedly knocked back the Briscoe seat to stay loyal to Andretti Racing in 2013.
Allmendinger came to NASCAR racing from a successful background in Champ Cars.
“He (Allmendinger) could be an option for us, for sure,” Penske told reporters on Saturday.
“Hopefully they’ll give him a clean bill of health so he can move on. Obviously, it’s a speed bump in his career.
“He’s certainly an option for people on the NASCAR side and on the Indy side. He did a great job (in) Champ Car.”
Part of Michael Shank’s winning Daytona Prototype team in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona this past January, Allmendinger now is eligible to defend that title in the NASCAR-owned Grand-Am Series. Shank has said he would welcome Allmendinger’s return to the car.
“I want to thank everyone for their support through this entire process,” Allmendinger said in a statement.
“I appreciate that NASCAR created the the Road to Recovery program, and am grateful for the opportunity to return to competition. The Road to Recovery program was really helpful to me in getting my priorities reset away from the race track. And, honestly, that helped find my love of racing again and why I began racing in the first place. I’m looking forward to taking this experience and be better for it moving forward.”