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Concussed Earnhardt out, Allmendinger back

Smith has been driving the #78 Furniture Row Racing car this season, but was recently told that he had lost the ride for 2013 and would be replaced by Kurt Busch starting at this weekend's race in Charlotte.

It had previously been announced that Smith would effectively swap seats with Busch and take over the driving duties of the #51 Phoenix Racing car, but the news of Earnhardt's concussion has changed those plans and left James Finch's small team needing an experienced Cup driver at very short notice.

They've plugged the gap by turning to AJ Allmendinger, the driver who was suspended from NASCAR competition over the summer after failing a random drugs test, but who was confirmed last month as being eligible to drive once again after successfully completing the series' "Road to Recovery" rehabilitation program.

Allmendinger was first from his previous team, Penske Racing, after the drugs test result was confirmed. Coincidentally, he had been in the team's #22 car previously driven by Kurt Busch before he and the team fell out at the end of the 2011 season, making this the second time that Allmendinger will have followed Busch into the same race seat in under 12 months.

There had been speculation that Busch himself might not be able to compete this weekend at Kansas, after a bizarre incident early in the race at Talledega where he drove away from track safety officials with an EMT kit still on the top of his car, apparently ignoring instructions from race control.

However, NASCAR were satisfied that being excluded from the race was sufficient penalty and accepted his explanation that he had removed his helmet when talking to the track workers and was unable to hear orders from the tower or his pit wall, and that therefore he would not be given an additional race ban penalty.




Related Pictures

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Kurt Busch, driver of the #51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet, talks to the media after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 7, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, flips in the air after and incident with the field in the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 7, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, stands by his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 7, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in ninth place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Nationwide Children`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 15, 2015 in Lexington, Ohio. (Picture Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place Sunday, August 16, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at New Hampshire on July 7, 2014. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at Chicago on July 18, 2014. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway on 30 May 2015. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Chevrolet, Alex Tagliani, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, and Chris Buescher driver of the #60 Zest Ford, drive during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Nationwide Children`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 15, 2015 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in eleventh place Sunday, August 9, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for second position Saturday, August 8, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. Joining him on the front row will be pole winner AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Bush’s Beans Chevrolet SS. Truex Jr. is fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Bush’s Beans Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position Saturday, August 8, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. Joining him on the front row will be Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Chevrolet SS. Allmendinger is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing) (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Bush’s Beans Chevrolet SS, celebrates after capturing the pole position Saturday, August 8, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. Joining him on the front row will be Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Chevrolet SS. Allmendinger is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole board after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2015 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2015 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2015 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 2, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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