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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)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in sixth place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Truex, Jr. is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 FVP/Menards Chevrolet SS finishes in fourth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row / Visser Precision Chevrolet, stands in the garage area prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 NATIONWIDE Chevrolet, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Comcast Business Toyota, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, leads Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 8, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet SS finishes second. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, speaks with the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS qualifies for fourth position Friday, March 6, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the #55 Fronius USA/Viva Auto Group Chevrolet, spins out during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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