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Penske calls driver’s suspension `disappointing’
Question of the Day
TORONTO (AP) - Roger Penske was disappointed after learning his NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger was suspended for a failed drug test.
But the team owner added Sunday it’s too early to reach any conclusions until getting the results of Allmendinger’s second test in the next few days.
“You know it’s a disappointment at this particular time, but we’re going to wait and see what the second test results are before we make any comment or decisions. I don’t think it’s fair to him,” Penske said outside the Team Penske pits at the Honda Indy in Toronto. He has three cars in the afternoon’s race.
Penske said he supports NASCAR’s drug-testing policy and isn’t sure whether the suspension will be a public relations blow to his racing team.
“I think if you look at sports, things like this happen,” said Penske, who arrived in Toronto on Saturday night. “It’s unfortunate, but I don’t want to really make a statement pro or con right now. I’m counting on the test being proper for him within 72 hours, and at that point they’ll make a decision.”
The temporary suspension was announced by NASCAR on Saturday evening, 90 minutes before Allmendinger was scheduled to race at Daytona International Speedway. Allmendinger’s “A” sample taken last weekend at Kentucky Speedway came back positive, and the driver has 72 hours to request his “B” sample be tested.
The news forced Penske Racing to scramble in getting Sam Hornish Jr. to fill in for Allmendinger. Penske flew Hornish in from Charlotte, N.C., and he arrived minutes before the race began.
Penske said Hornish was his first choice as a fill-in, but added it’s too early to discuss whether Hornish will take over if Allmendinger’s suspension is upheld.
Allmendinger was hired in late December by Penske to fill the seat that opened when Kurt Busch split with the organization. It’s the most prolific ride of Allmendinger’s career, and both driver and team seemed thrilled with the pairing even as Allmendinger has had his struggles in the No. 22 Dodge.
He was 23rd in the Sprint Cup Series standings heading into Daytona, where he won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race in January shortly after his hiring at Penske.
He’s the most prolific driver since Jeremy Mayfield in 2009 was suspended for a failed drug test. Mayfield has fought NASCAR over the test since, and has not raced a NASCAR event since.
AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer, in Daytona Beach, Fla., contributed to this report.
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