DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — AJ Allmendinger was suspended from Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 after he failed a drug test, NASCAR announced 1 hour, 40 minutes before the race.
Former Indy Car champion Sam Hornish Jr. arrived at Daytona International Speedway from Charlotte, N.C., less than nine minutes before the race started. The No. 22 Dodge was moved to the back of the starting grid.
The Penske Racing team worked feverishly getting Hornish fitted inside the car. He sat on pit road with crewmen pouring over him until the rest of the 42-car field was on its second warm-up lap.
According to NASCAR, Allmendinger was “temporarily suspended from NASCAR competition based up notification of a positive “A” test NASCAR received from the Medical Review Officer.” Allmendinger was given 72 hours to request a “B” test. If he refuses or fails a second test, the suspension will move to indefinite.
While he’s suspended, he must complete a drug treatment program before he can apply for reinstatement.
Allmendinger became the ninth driver suspended for failing a drug test. He joined Jeremy Mayfield as the only two who were from the Sprint Cup Series. Of that group, only truck series drivers Tyler Walker and Brian Rose have been reinstated.
NASCAR would not disclose what substance created the positive reading.
The race team released the following statement:
“NASCAR notified Penske Racing this afternoon that AJ Allmendinger was administered a drug test earlier this week, and those results tested positive. NASCAR has a strict drug testing program that Penske Racing fully supports. Penske Racing will work with NASCAR through this process and its next step. Sam Hornish will drive the No. 22 car in (Saturday’s) Coke Zero 400.”
Hornish finished 10th in Friday night’s Nationwide Series race at Daytona for Penske. He had already returned home to Charlotte when he was called back late Saturday.
Allmendinger left Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of last season after car owner Roger Penske fired Kurt Busch. Allmendinger was a co-driver on the winning prototype at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race, but he’s struggled in NASCAR with just three top-10 finishes. He was ranked 23rd in the Sprint Cup Series standings before Saturday’s race.