By HEATHER WILLIAMS
10:53 AM PDT, July 9, 2012
I am really struggling with this blog. I guess I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how this happened again. How anyone who watched the way Jeremy Mayfield's career was cut off at the knees could end up with a positive drug test in NASCAR.
AJ Allmendinger. I never saw it coming.
Right now the details about what he took are sketchy. But Allmendiger did test positive for something banned by NASCAR, and now he is temporarily suspended from the sport until a second sample can be tested.
"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," team owner Roger Penske told the Associated Press Sunday before the IndyCar race in Toronto.
I don't want to come down to hard on AJ until all the facts are in, but I do feel like I've been down this road before.
When Mayfield failed his first drug test back in 2009, he released a statement that he believed it was " the combination of a prescribed medicine and an over the counter medicine reacted together." It ended up that Mayfield had tested positive for meth.
I was shock at the time and yet... AJ Allmendinger. I never saw it coming.
I do have to applaud NASCAR for their swift work when they do find a problem. No wiggle room, no reinstatement while appeals are heard. Oh you get appeals, but you sit while they are heard. It has to be that way. At 200 mph the stakes are just too high.
Then there is Mr. Allmendinger. He has always been a fan and media favorite. Every encounter I have had or seen with him he has been good with the fans. And I don't think he has ever met a camera he didn't like. But as a driver, he has always seemed to have more promise than production.
Allmendinger was getting his one shot. He has a one year contract with one of the top teams in the sport, Penske Racing. It was an audition of sorts. He has struggled to prove himself, sitting 23rd in the points before this weekend's race in Daytona. Yet he has shown flashes, with poles in Kansas and at the Sprint Showdown.
So AJ Allmendinger. I never saw it coming.
But this appears that it will likely be the end of his career, though publicly his boss isn't cutting ties with him just yet.
"I think if you look at sports, things like this happen. 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," said Penske.
But what team or sponsor would want him now? Kurt Busch is a former champion who can't find a sponsor because of a bad temper. What company wants to hook it's star to someone with a positive drug test. Even if the second sample comes back negative I'm not sure AJ has enough cache' to get through this.
I honestly believe that NASCAR drivers as a collective group are the cleanest collection of athletes in professional sports. Considering the risk to themselves and each other they have to be.
That's why...AJ Allmendinger. I never saw this coming.
But I supposed next time I won't be so surprised.