NASCAR » 01 August 2012
Allmendinger released by Penske Racing
It's also embarrassing for Penske Racing and its sponsor, Shell-Pennzoil, which only hired Allmendinger at the end of 2011 after parting company with the previous incumbent of the #22, Kurt Busch, after a stormy season together. To turn over two drivers in under a year in such circumstances is not a comfortable situation for a team owner who prides himself on a well-run ship.
It seems likely that the current stand-in driver in place in the #22, Sam Hornish Jr., will remain in the car for rest of the season. However, the team statement simply said that this would be the case "at Pocono this weekend and for the foreseeable future."
"We talked to the sponsor," team owner Roger Penske said of the decision to keep Hornish in place for the time being. "We think that gives us the most chance to see how Sam develops. Then as we get further down the road, if we want to make a change, we can do that."
The team added that they would be evaluating their options for the 2013 Sprint Cup season in due course.
Speaking to reporters last weekend at Indianapolis, Roger Penske had revealed that, "Quite honestly, our phone is ringing off the hook with people who are interested in the ride in the #22."
Penske had previously said that he intended to meet with Allmendinger mid-week before making the decision that was announced today. "I have a very open mind, but I want to sit down face to face with him, which is the only fair way to do it to determine what is the best thing for the team and for him," he said on Sunday before the Brickyard 400. "There are so many factors. Our policies, you have people within your company if something like this would happen, what action would you take?"
Penske had raised eyebrows by suggesting that Allmendinger was in a different situation as an "independent contractor" to that of a full time Penske staffer who would have been immediately released after a positive drugs result, but he has ultimately decided that letting Allmendinger go was the only realistic response to the situation.
"Bigger people than you have made mistakes and come back and been able to benefit from the experience and be a bigger and better person," Penske revealed that he had told Allmendinger. "I hope that he'll rebound and have a successful career because he's a terrific kid. And it almost feels like it's one of your kids. That's what makes it so tough.
"He realizes it's a serious situation," Penske added.
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