AJ Allmendinger’s short tenure with Penske Racing came to an all but unexpected end today. Penske Racing announced in a press release this morning that Allmendinger would no longer be employed by the team.
Allmendinger, who has been indefinitely suspended by NASCAR since the July 7th race at Daytona, tested positive for amphetamines during the race weekend at Kentucky. Allmendinger’s “B” sample was tested last week and also returned positive.
Sam Hornish, Jr. has been in the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge since Allmendinger was suspended on July 7th and will continue to be in the car “for the foreseeable future.”
Here is Penske Racing’s complete statement:
“Penske Racing fully supports NASCAR’s substance abuse policy and we are disappointed with AJ’s positive drug test results,” said Roger Penske. “AJ is a terrific driver, a good person and it is very unfortunate that we have to separate at this time. We have invested greatly in AJ and we were confident in his success with our team. The decision to dismiss him is consistent with how we would treat any other Penske Racing team member under similar circumstances. As AJ begins NASCAR’s ‘Road to Recovery’ program, we wish him the best and look forward to seeing him compete again in NASCAR.”
Allmendinger also released a statement via his personal website:
“Effective today, I have been released from Penske Racing as driver of the No. 22 Dodge Charger. I wish to thank Mr. Penske, Penske Racing, their sponsors, and especially all the of the No. 22 team for the opportunity they provided me and for their support in this difficult time. I also, again, would like to thank all the fans that really have been awesome through this.
“I apologize for the distraction, embarrassment, and difficulties that my current suspension from NASCAR has provided. As I stated last week, I have begun NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program and look forward to using those resources and its completion to compete again in NASCAR in the near future.”
It’s difficult to determine if Allmendinger’s vacated ride is Hornish’s to lose for the 2013 season. Penske is known for being loyal to his drivers and has stated in the past he would like to see Hornish return to full-time competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Penske stated in their press release today they will explore all options and come to a decision at a later date.