What a difference two months make for A.J. Allmendinger. He has completed NASCAR’s rehabilitation program and his looking toward getting back into the sport he loves.
NASCAR reinstated Allmendinger recently after he had successfully completed the Road to Recovery program. Allmendinger said he wasn’t sure “relief” was the proper term to describe his feelings, but he can now focus on what lies ahead in his career. Allmendinger’s racing career appeared to be in jeopardy after the driver was suspended, on July 7, for violating NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy.
“This definitely was the first thing that I needed to have happen to move forward in my life and toward rebuilding my career and making my next decision,” he told NASCAR.com. The driver added he wanted to complete NASCAR’s rehabilitation program before thinking about the future. “To get it done sooner rather than later is certainly good for me, to see really what options are out there and what I want to do in life.”
As a result of the NASCAR ban, Penske Racing terminated Allmendinger’s contract. In a story reported on Digital Journal, Roger Penske said, “The decision to dismiss him (Allmendinger) is consistent with how we would treat any other Penske Racing team member under similar circumstances.”
Allmendinger’s NASCAR future is still very much up in the air, but the racer seems to have other options. He is reported to considering a jump back to IndyCar. He raced in the series, then known as Champ Car, from 2004 to 2006, when he won five races and finished third overall in the drivers’ standings. Allmendinger is part owner of MSR Indy, along with Michael Shank and Brian Bailey. The team is hoping to run a full schedule in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2013.
Another option would be a return to Penske Racing. The team owner has said he would consider Allmendinger as a potential driver for his IndyCar team. Penske Racing currently employs Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Ryan Briscoe.
“This is a speed bump in his career, but he is certainly an option for people on the NASCAR side and the Indy side,” Penske said. “He is someone we would consider.”
NASCAR has never revealed what substance was involved, but Allmendinger has said it was likely a prescription drug commonly used to treat attention deficit disorder. He maintains that he mistakenly took the drug Adderall believing it to be a pill to boost his energy.