NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers back AJ Allmendinger's return after drugs suspension
|By Diego Mejia||Saturday, September 22nd 2012, 08:28 GMT|
Leading NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers have welcomed NASCAR's reinstatement of AJ Allmendinger, following his suspension after a failed drugs test.
Allmendinger successfully completed NASCAR's Substance Abuse Policy Road To Recovery programme in August, after first being suspended in early July when results of a test performed at Kentucky Speedway on June 29 drew a positive result. A test of a 'B' sample later led to an indefinite suspension.
The ex-Penske driver has now been reinstated for competition by NASCAR but it remains to be seen where he will attempt to make his comeback.
The former Champ Car frontrunner attended last weekend's Fontana IndyCar race and is open to returning to single-seaters. Allmendinger was released from his Penske NASCAR deal after his suspension took effect.
Reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart says he is fine with Allmendinger returning to compete in NASCAR if that is what he wishes. Stewart believes having gone through the lows of the past few months Allmendinger will be hungry for success when he returns.
"I think obviously NASCAR has reinstated him for a reason," said Stewart. "I don't see any problem. I think if anything he is a good pick right now because I think he is going to be hungry to go out and run well again and pick up where he left off.
"He was running well when he had the drama there. [For] somebody that is looking for somebody that is hungry and can get the job done; I think he is a good pick right now."
Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon echoed Stewart's views and believes Allmendinger's commitment is what has allowed him to quickly come back.
"I think that a quick reinstatement like that speaks volumes for what his commitment is," said Gordon. "I think that NASCAR wouldn't do that unless they saw a lot out of AJ and what his intentions and commitment are moving forward. I would think that would build confidence in the garage area as well."
Former Penske team-mate Brad Keselowski, who said in July that the positive test result was a 'death sentence' for Allmendinger's career, believes he still faces a tough road ahead following his reinstatement.
"It's still a tough road," said Keselowski. "It's great to see Roger [Penske] support him like he has been and really the whole NASCAR community has reached out in their own ways.
"I'm happy that the Road to Recovery process has worked for him and I think we'll all be watching to see what happens."