INDIANAPOLIS — NASCAR team owner Roger Penske will meet with suspended driver A.J. Allmendinger this week to discuss his future with the team.
Speaking to reporters at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before Sunday’s Curtiss Shaver at the Brickyard 400, Penske said his company’s employees are subject to random drug testing and he has released employees who have tested positive in the past.
But Penske said Allmendinger is considered an independent contractor, not a full-time employee, and isn’t necessarily subject to the same policies.
Allmendinger was suspended July 7 after he tested positive in late June. NASCAR extended his suspension indefinitely this week after his backup urine sample confirmed his initial positive test. NASCAR has not said what substance Allmendinger was suspended for, but his business manager has said it was an amphetamine.
RESTART REMINDER: Hoping to avoid a repeat of the controversial finish to the Nationwide Series race, NASCAR managing event director David Hoots delivered a stern lecture during the drivers’ meeting before Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.
Still, some drivers walked away from the meeting wondering what they’re supposed to do if they’re stuck in the same position that Elliott Sadler was on Saturday.
Sadler was penalized for jumping the restart near the end of Saturday’s race. Sadler said race leader Brad Keselowski slowed unexpectedly when he spun his tires on the restart, and Sadler had no choice but to keep going because he was being pushed by the cars behind him.
Sadler’s team owner, Richard Childress, still was fuming about the decision Sunday morning.
CHANGE OF PLANS: As soon as Carl Edwards got out of his car Sunday, he rounded up everyone on the No. 99 team for a meeting.
A failure in the electronic ignition led to a 29th-place finish, four laps behind race winner Jimmie Johnson. More importantly, it dropped him to 12th in the standings with no victories.
Edwards wanted to make sure everyone at Roush Fenway Racing was committed to going all-out in the next six races to get back into the playoffs. With finishes of 18th or worse in four of his past five races, Edwards knows his hopes for the Chase, and the championship, are fading fast.
Instead of racing for points to qualify as a top 10 driver, Edwards said his only strategy from now on is to win races.
“We have to take chances,” he said. “We have to go race. We can do that, we can race like that. It will actually be a big relief in a way because there is no other choice. We just go race for wins.”
That’s why he got the crew together before they loaded the hauler and headed home.
“(Crew chief) Chad (Norris) and I want to make sure they know that we do not quit,” Edwards said. “We keep going. We don’t give up. We put our best effort out there and if it is meant to be, it will be.
“I am ultra-competitive but I have learned to be the best I can on the race track I can’t let something like this affect me past today. I have to go out there and make sure it doesn’t affect the guys next week or me and we have to give the same effort every week. If there is a win there or a good run we will get it but we can’t beat ourselves.”
Matt Kenseth, Edwards’ teammate, also had troubles at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was involved in a crash with Bobby Labonte and Joey Logano and finished 35th. That dropped him from the Sprint Cup Series lead to a 14-point deficit to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the standings.
Greg Biffle, Johnson and Denny Hamlin round out the top five in the standings.
For a month Edwards has tried to balance his need for points and his need for wins. Now the mission is clear.
“Nothing is easier, it is just simpler,” he said. “It makes decisions simpler. We have to plan to win these races. I don’t think we can think about points anymore. That is what I am saying when I say it is simpler. We just have to go race for wins now.”