It hasn’t even been a week since A.J. Allmendinger lost his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride with Penske Racing, but in that time it has become evident that his two positive drug tests have put the binders on a promising career.
Allmendinger tested positive for amphetamines in a test that was taken prior to the Kentucky NASCAR race, and while his camp has maintained his innocence (Allmendinger himself has yet to speak to the media on the subject), the prevalent feeling in the world of motorsports is that Allmendinger at the very least is guilty of not paying attention to what he was ingesting.
With the best ride he had ever had in his five-year NASCAR career pulled out from under him, there are those that are beginning to think that Brad Keselowski had it right two weeks ago when he called the positive tests a ‘death sentence’.
“Yeah, it’s going to be tough. There’s no doubt about it,” said five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson on the prospects of Allmendinger getting back in the series in the foreseeable future. “We don’t have anyone else to really base it off of coming back into the sport to get a feel as to the corporate involvement, team owner’s response, and how that’s going to go for him.”
Johnson went on to say that he thinks that there will eventually be a place for Allmendinger, especially after he finishes the NASCAR Road to Recovery rehabilitation process that he started. Johnson warns though, that if and when he makes it back, he likely won’t be in a plum ride like the #22 Penske Racing Dodge that he left.
“In the car, he was developing at a great pace and showing plenty of speed and was very competitive,” Johnson said. “I think people like a comeback story and if A.J. is committed to the process and getting back, I’m sure there will be some opportunities. I don’t think it’s going to be the one that he wants to start, but over time I would assume he could get back to a good spot. Everybody makes mistakes. We learn and grow from it and move on. People are usually, or mostly, responsive to that.”
Four-time series champ Jeff Gordon continues to support Allmendinger and expects his fellow Californian to fight through this adversity and get another chance to show his prodigious talent.
“AJ is a friend of mine. I’ve always been a fan of his ever since his open-wheel runs in the CART Series,” Gordon said. “You hate to see it because it was a great opportunity for him to be at Penske in that car. It’s disappointing to see. I’m as anxious as anybody else to know all the details as to what happened, what went wrong. He’s a fighter. I don’t see him just turning away. I see him doing what he can to come back.”