Crash.Net NASCAR News
Penske team 'not in the loop' on Allmendinger re-test
15 July 2012
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.
"Right now, you get to the point after the initial shock where you're trying to figure out what strategy there is for going forward," he added. "And you want to make sure that whatever cards you play, you play them in the right order."
During earlier media opportunities at Loudon, Brad Keselowski had been quoted as saying that as far as the 'B' test goes it would make no difference to the harm that would be done to his team mate's NASCAR career: "Whether it comes back positive or negative, it doesn't make a difference. It's still a death sentence," he said.
Cindric didn't agree. "Brad's always going to give you his opinion. You've got to love him for that. It's his opinion," he said. "I think that's a bit harsh. From our end, if we felt like that was it, we wouldn't be talking about it."
But there was no doubt that the situation with the #22 had attracted a huge amount of attention from other drivers in pit road searching for a strong Cup seat for 2013, with Penske's Nationwide Series regular driver Sam Hornish Jr. recruited as a temporary stand-in for Daytona and New Hampshire but nothing certain beyond that while Allmendinger's status is still up in the air.
"All of a sudden you're the prettiest girl in town as far as other drivers are concerned," agreed Cindric. "I think we've said that we have a solution. Luckily, we have Sam and we have the depth and we're going to give him the opportunity and play this thing week by week."
Describing Hornish's unexpected extra Cup runs in the #22 as an opportunity rather than a tryout for the driver, Cindric suggested that Hornish might have been rushed too quickly into Sprint Cup competition in 2008 direct from his former career in IndyCar, and that he was a stronger driver now for having more experience - which might make it the right time for him to return to fulltime Cup racing.
"Roger has maybe taken a shot at himself and wondered if we put him in there too early," said Cindric, referring to team owner Roger Penske. "[Sam] has had a chance to step back and I think he's really watched the way Brad's been able to battle through adversity. I think that's one of Brad's strongest suits. When things don't go very well, he makes hay out of it rather than making a hole in the ground."
But for now, Cindric and Penske have a little breathing space before they're required to make their next tough decisions on the stewardship of the #22, with Cup racing heading into a rare weekend off before the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 29.
"The good thing is that we've got next week off," agreed Cindric. "It helps us going into Indy to let it all play out and figure out what's next."