Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NASCAR reinstates Allmendinger

NASCAR has reinstated suspended driver AJ Allmendinger after he successfully completed the Road to Recovery program.

Allmendinger had been suspended by NASCAR on July 24 after failing a drug test. He was subsequently released by Penske Racing.

Allmendinger was temporarily suspended after failing a drug test taken in June in Kentucky. When a backup, Sample B test also failed, he was indefinitely suspended.

“I want to thank everyone for their support through this entire process,” said Allmendinger in a statement. “I appreciate that NASCAR created the the Road to Recovery program, and am grateful for the opportunity to return to competition. The Road to Recovery program was really helpful to me in getting my priorities reset away from the race track. And, honestly, that helped find my love of racing again and why I began racing in the first place. I’m looking forward to taking this experience and be better for it moving forward.”

Team owner Roger Penske said last weekend in Sonoma, Calif., that he would consider giving Allmendinger another chance.  But Joey Logano has signed to drive Penske's No. 22 Dodge in 2013. Sam Hornish Jr. has been in the car in Allmendinger's absence. -- David Scott

Larry McReynolds dishes on Danica and JR Motorsports

   Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief Larry McReynolds has worked with some of the most successful organizations in NASCAR. Now a TV analyst with Speed, McReynolds offered up his thoughts this week on the recent departure of Tony Eury Jr. and Tony Eury Sr. from JR Motorsports.

   While McReynolds agreed a change was needed based on performance, he had some straight-forward comments about that organization's driver lineup, which this season includes Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt.

   “I think their current driver lineup is running as well they’re going to run. In the Nationwide Series, Danica Patrick is probably as good as she’s going to be. She’s going to run between ninth and 15th and maybe score a top five on a really good day," McReynolds said. "I don’t care if you put Chad Knaus in as her crew chief. She’s going to run where she is running. 

 JR Motorsports announced Tuesday that Ryan Pemberton will serve as Patrick's interim crew chief this weekend at Kentucky. A decision past Kentucky hasn't been made.

 "As much as I’d love to say she could run fender-to-fender with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Austin Dillon or Elliott Sadler, I don’t think it’s there. Danica is great for our sport and I’m excited about her running fulltime in the Cup Series. But she has run 51 Nationwide Series races, and that’s a lot of races.

   "By the same token, Cole Whitt is going to run where he is running. He was thrown into the deep end pretty fast. I think he’s between a sixth and 12th place driver right now. That’s where he ran with the Eurys, and that’s where he’s going to run without them."

   McReynolds said Richard Childress Racing's Nationwide program offers up a valid benchmark for comparison.

   "JR Motorsports is a Chevrolet team. RCR is a Chevrolet team, and they’re winning races and sitting second and third in the points, so it’s not a Chevrolet problem. JR Motorsports runs Hendrick engines but Turner Motorsports is winning races with Hendrick engines, so it’s not the engines," he said. "So, I think this is why they had to do something to try to make their race cars better.”