Sam Hornish Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger have been inextricably linked over the past few seasons, both drivers abandoning their status as poster boys for their open-wheel sanctioning bodies for the currency-rich pastures of NASCAR. Now Roger Penske is putting them in the same sentence again as the team today announced that it would replace the suspended Allmendinger with Hornish in the team's #22 Dodge for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event in Loudon.
Allmendinger was abruptly pulled out of the Penske machine about two hours before the start of Saturday night's Coca-Cola 400 in Daytona when NASCAR announced that Allmendinger had failed a random drug test. Hornish was summoned from Charlotte and made it to Daytona less than 20 minutes before the start of the race, starting the race from the rear of the field and finishing 33rd after a flat tire tore the rear quarterpanel off of his car.
A Penske Racing statement this morning confirmed that Hornish would again replace Allmendinger as the team awaits the results of its driver's 'B' sample, which is to be tested after the 'A' sample was found to be positive: "Penske Racing is continuing to work with NASCAR to follow its process and procedures related to the positive drug test that AJ Allmendinger was notified of this past weekend. While this process continues, Sam Hornish Jr. will drive the No. 22 car in this week's Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway."
Both traded opportunities to win open-wheel championships (Hornish with the Indy Racing League and Allmendinger with Champ Car) for the chance to move into stock cars, where neither has had anywhere near the success that they had enjoyed previously. Hornish has 111 NASCAR Cup starts while Allmendinger has 170 in his NASCAR career. Both continue to search for their first series victories.