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Drivers shocked, concerned by Allmendinger's suspension

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  July 13, 2012 02:45 PM

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LOUDON, N.H. -- Several NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers reacted to the suspension of driver A.J. Allmendinger after he tested positive for a banned substance. Hours before the start of last Saturday night's Coke Zero 400, NASCAR officials announced its decision to ban Allmendinger from driving the No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge fielded by Penske Racing, prompting the team to deploy Nationwide Series driver Sam Hornish Jr. as an emergency replacement.

"NASCAR has got their policies in place and it was a little bit of a shock I think to all of us that it happened when it did,'' said Tony Stewart, who went on to win the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. "That is not in A.J. Allmendinger's character so I don't know what is going on there. It's unfortunate because he's a good guy and he's a really good race car driver so I mean I would say there is probably a logical explanation for it.''

One driver, Carl Edwards, suggested it might be time for drivers to seek an independent testing organization to work in concert with the sanctioning body's drug testers as a way to provide an added safeguard for drivers.

"I think weíre all kind of in a position where, letís be honest, itís an imperfect world,'' Edwards said. "People are imperfect. Tests are imperfect.

"I think the drivers need to get together and we need to have our own group that is paid by us, that works for us, to be here in tandem with the NASCAR drug testers and have them test us at the same time so that we have not just an A and B sample, but an A and B testing facility, and we can all agree on that facility, itís no big deal."

"I donít think it would be a contentious thing, I think that would remove almost all doubt in any situation of a positive test,'' Edwards said.

"I think until we do that, no matter what is found to be positive, no matter what the test results are, there is always gonna be that little question of, ĎMaybe there was a mistake,'' Edwards continued. ``I think that was brought up by somebody early on in this testing stuff with the testing policy, but I donít know that thereís been anymore serious discussion, and thatís just something I thought of a little bit this week.

"At the end of the day what does a guy that doesnít drink, use any drugs, have any chance of being in violation, what does that guy really have to gain by subjecting himself to these tests?'' Edwards said. ``He has the potential, that is real because itís an imperfect world, of having some sort of false positive or having something happen. I think thatís really scary for a lot of the guys in this sport when you go in there and subject yourself to that.Ē

Brad Keselowski, however, offered a strong dissenting opinion on the matter, saying, ``I don't think we need any committees or anything like that. I feel you shouldn't be allowed to take anything. Just man up and drive the damn race car.''

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