Penske Racing were celebrating victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon, with Brad Keselowski in victory lane and Sam Hornish Jr. also finishing in the top four after just being edged at the end by Austin Dillon.
But when it came to the post-race interviews, it was impossible for Penske team president Tim Cindric to duck questions about their Sprint Cup regular driver AJ Allmendinger, pulled in dramatic circumstances from last week's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona after a positive result for a stimulant in a random drugs test led to an immediate temporary suspension from NASCAR competition.
"I'd rather not know until they've gone through all the processes they're going through," said Cindric, insisting that he didn't know the details of the situation beyond what was already public.
"Obviously he's our driver, but it's not something that we control," he said, adding that the current state of affairs "is really between NASCAR and AJ at this time."
Allmendinger's management team revealed last week that the positive result had been over a 'stimulant', but did not reveal which one. NASCAR's rule book defines a stimulant as "amphetamine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Eve (MDEA), MDA, PMA, Phentermine, and other amphetamine derivatives and related compounds," but also warns drivers of the dangers of positive results from other sources including over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs as well as dietary supplements and sports drinks if not used in a strictly optimum manner.
Cindric said he had no knowledge of what substance Allmendinger might have tested positive for. "We haven't had any conversations with what, how much, how many, any of that stuff," he said. "It doesn't matter in some ways because they're going to go through a much more thorough process now to determine exactly what the score is. Instead of getting bits and pieces or initial things, I think that clouds the water."
At the moment, everyone is waiting for Allmendinger's 'B' test sample to be processed. Allmendinger is exercising his right under the NASCAR substance abuse rules to have his own toxicologist present when the second sample is reviewed to ensure there are no problems with the handling, which has delayed the test until next week.
"From a competition side, obviously we all want closure one way or another," said Cindric of the extended uncertainty. "From an overall standpoint, when you look at what's at stake. If you're in that position you're probably going to look at it and make sure all your ducks are in a row before you go through the entire process. If you take the emotion and the racing sides of it out, I'm not surprised at all [about the delay]."
Cindric has been in touch with Allmendinger over the past few days, and said: "It's as you would expect. No one wants to sit out. No one wants to be in that situation.