AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, has been suspended temporarily from NASCAR competition after his "A" sample from a random drug test administered last weekend at Kentucky tested positive for a banned substance.
The suspension keeps Allmendinger out of Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Sam Hornish Jr., who drives in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Penske Racing, was tabbed to replace Allmendinger in Saturday's race.
NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell announced the suspension Saturday afternoon at the Daytona media center. Allmendinger has 72 hours from the date of his suspension to request that his "B" sample be tested.
If Allmendinger does not request a "B" sample test, or if the "B" sample tests positive, Allmendinger will be suspended indefinitely pending completion of NASCAR's Road to Recovery program.
"Out of respect for the process, we're not going to take any questions at this time," O'Donnell concluded.
Penske Racing issued 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 steps. Sam Hornish will drive the No. 22 car in (Saturday's) Coke Zero 400."
As O'Donnell read NASCAR's statement to reporters, Hornish was on his way to Daytona by plane from Charlotte.
Allmendinger did not attend the 5:30 p.m. ET driver's meeting at Daytona, fueling speculation that something was amiss.
Though 17 races in his first season with Penske, Allmendinger is 23rd in the standings with three top-10 finishes, two in the last two races.
Allmendinger is the second Sprint Cup driver to fail a drug test under a toughened substance abuse policy NASCAR introduced at the beginning of the 2009 season. Jeremy Mayfield was suspended indefinitely May 9, 2009 at Darlington for a failed test at Richmond the week before.
Mayfield subsequently claimed that his positive test for methamphetamine resulted from a combination of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Mayfield took NASCAR to court over the issue but eventually exhausted his legal options, without success.
As a practice, NASCAR does not reveal the nature of the substance or substances that produce a positive test. The specifics of Mayfield's case came to light in court filings.