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'Shellshocked' Allmendinger asks for retest

10 July 2012

AJ Allmendinger will remain on temporary suspension this week, after filing an official request on Monday night for NASCAR to test the 'B' sample he submitted as part of a random drugs test ten days ago.

A statement from the driver released on Tuesday said: "I have informed NASCAR that I have requested that the 'B' sample be tested, following the steps according to NASCAR's 2012 rule book regarding this situation. I fully respect NASCAR's drug usage policy and the reasons they have it.

"I am hoping this can get resolved as quickly as possible so that I can get back to driving the #22 Penske Racing Dodge. I am sorry that this has caused such a distraction for my Penske Racing team, our sponsors and fans.

"Obviously I would never do anything to jeopardize my opportunity here at Penske Racing or to my fellow drivers. I am very conscious about my training and health and would never knowingly take a prohibited drug," the statement concluded.

"He was a little dumbfounded and shellshocked Saturday night," Allmendinger's business manager Tara Regan told The Associated Press on Monday. "Yesterday, it just seemed a little surreal."

She said that AJ denied breaking NASCAR's substance abuse policy, and added: "It's just so far from AJ's character, and he's trying to come to terms with what has just happened and figure out how this could happen."

His Sprint Cup team, Penske Racing, has already announced that Sam Hornish Jr. will once again deputise for Allmendinger in the Shell/Pennzoil-sponsored #22 car at next weekend's event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, as the results of the retest will probably not be known in time before the race weekend gets underway.

"Penske Racing does not know when/if B sample test will occur for AJ," Penske Racing president Tim Cindric wrote on Twitter on Monday. "If it does happen, it could take days for results," he said, adding that deciding now to field Hornish at New Hampshire gave the team more preparation time.

It was announced on Saturday that Allmendinger's first 'A' test sample had proved positive for one or more drugs listed under NASCAR's long list of prohibited medications. Under NASCAR's substance abuse policy, five drivers are asked at random at each event to give samples for testing, and Allmendinger was among those chosen at Kentucky over the last weekend in June.

A second sample - taken at the same time as the first - is tested if the driver or his team request it within 72 hours of being notified of the results of the first. The purpose is to rule out any question of contamination or mishandling of the sample, and allows the driver or his legal representative to be present and observe the entire testing process.

There has been no disclosure of the substance that was detected in the initial test. Banned substances in NASCAR competition can include otherwise perfectly legal over-the-counter and prescription medications.

After a competitor is informed of a positive result in the test, NASCAR's medical review officer contacts the person concerned to see whether there is any acceptable explanation for the finding. If the review officer is not satisfied, then the driver is placed on temporary suspension pending any 'B' sample test. If that also tests positive then the competitor's suspension becomes 'indefinite' while the person completed a mandatory, bespoke rehabilitation program.

While there have been a number of suspensions for substance abuse violations among other NASCAR workers and team personnel, only three drivers have previously been suspended since random drug testing was introduced in 2009.

None of those three drivers were subsequently able to return to NASCAR competition after the suspension.

"Obviously, we support the NASCAR program of drug-free drivers, mechanics and crew members and we need to abide by that," said team owner Roger Penske on Sunday after he returned from holiday in Europe to attend the IndyCar race in Toronto. "To me, it's a big speed bump for us.

"At the end of the day, we've had situations before that we've had to deal with and we're going to be professional, we are going to support the sport and we don't want to let our sponsors down," he said. "At this point, we'll just wait and see."


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