AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 22 Dodge for Roger Penske, was suspended temporarily before the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday for failing NASCAR's drug test. Allmendinger took the random drug test last weekend at Kentucky. Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president for racing operations, said Allmendinger's 'A' sample from the test was positive.
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Penske Racing was notified of Allmendinger's suspension by NASCAR on Saturday afternoon. Penske said in a team statement, "NASCAR has a strict drug testing program that Penske Racing fully supports. Penske Racing will work with NASCAR through this process and its next steps. Sam Hornish Jr. will drive the No. 22 car in tonight's Coke Zero 400."
Hornish, who had returned to Charlotte, NC after Friday's Nationwide race at Daytona, was rushed back to the track for the race. He landed in Daytona, and was escorted to the track by police, and made it in enough time to get in the car.
Allmendinger is the first high-profile driver to fail a drug test since Jeremy Mayfield failed a drug test in 2009. Instead of doing NASCAR's path to reinstatement, however, Mayfield brought a suit against the sanctioning body, beginning a long, drawn-out legal battle that ended when the case was dismissed earlier this year.
Allmendinger is in his first year at Penske Racing, and was 23rd in points going into the Coke Zero 400. He took over for Kurt Busch, who was let go at the end of last season after a major blowup with Dr. Jerry Punch from ESPN. Hornish had a rocky Sprint Cup career before he moved to the Nationwide series. He is currently fourth in the standings.