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Allmendinger is the second Sprint Cup Series driver suspended under the tightened policy implemented in 2009. Jeremy Mayfield was the first driver, and he unsuccessfully sued to have the results overturned.

Now, Hornish gets another shot after losing out to Allmendinger for the empty ride left by Kurt Busch in the offseason. Hornish struggled through three full Sprint Cup seasons but spent most of last year out of the car. He made only one Cup start and ran 13 Nationwide races.

This season, Penske had Hornish running the full Nationwide schedule. He was set to race in the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Iowa Speedway.

Hornish turned 33 on July 2. He was called in a pinch for the July 7 race at Daytona.

“My mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I told her I didn’t know what I needed other than some opportunities I hadn’t had in a while,” he said. “She told me she’d be praying for it. Lo and behold, I got it. I guess the power of prayer is pretty good.”

Hornish admits to a twinge of discomfort with getting a ride under these circumstances.

Some driver was going to get the shot. May as well be him.

“It’s a tough thing,” he said. “I’d love to be in it next year if I get the opportunity, so I’m going to work hard at it.”

Hornish needs strong results to keep that ride in 2013. He’s facing a deep crop of potential drivers, including Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and former Chase driver Brian Vickers.

The only sure thing for 2013 is that it won’t be Allmendinger.

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Dan Gelston can be followed at http://twitter.com/apgelston