Penske Racing has released suspended NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger, effective immediately. Sam Hornish Jr., who had been piloting the No. 22 Dodge in the interim and races full time for Penske's Nationwide Series team, will drive the Shell/Pennzoil machine for the foreseeable future.
Allmendinger was given a "temporary" suspension the night of the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona on July 7 after NASCAR was informed that his "A sample" had failed a random drug test. Hornish flew from Charlotte to Daytona, landing within 30 minutes of the green flag, but drove the car in the race. He also drove the car at Loudon, NH a week later while Allmendinger awaited his B-sample results.
When that test on July 24 also failed, Allmendinger's suspension became indefinite pending his completion of NASCAR's "Road to Recovery" reinstatement policy. Hornish was in the car at Indianapolis, and he now becomes essentially the full-time driver.
The No. 22 Dodge was one of the potential destinations for Unadilla's David Ragan this past off season before Allmendinger became available from Richard Petty Motorsports. Allmendinger, with more of a proven track record despite Ragan's victory at Daytona last July, got the seat and automatically was pegged as this year's break out driver. Results had been less than stellar for the 22 team, though, and Allmendinger had all but been eliminated from any shot at making the Chase for the Championship at the time of his suspension.