Sam Hornish, Jr., will continue driving in NASCAR's Sprint Cup ranks, at least for this weekend.
Two days after AJ Allmendinger was suspended for failing a random drug test, Penske Racing announced Monday morning that Hornish, a Defiance native, will drive in place of Allmendinger in the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge in Sunday's LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.
Hornish is currently fourth in the Nationwide Series, but the former Indianapolis 500 champion was an 11th-hour call-up for Penske Racing at Saturday's Coke Zero 400, after NASCAR announced Allmendinger's temporary suspension.
Hornish will drive in Saturday's Nationwide race, the F.W. Webb 200 at New Hampshire, in addition to driving in his third Sprint Cup race this season.
Last Saturday at the Coke Zero 400, Hornish finished 33rd in the 160-lap race. Hornish started at the back of the 43-car field because of the driver change and was as high as 14th in the field. But after the 80th lap, Hornish spun out as he came out of Turn 2 onto the backstretch and his back left tire and back fender were torn apart, prompting the first caution of the race. Hornish rejoined the field with a repaired car and finished the race 11 laps behind winner Tony Stewart.
Hornish did not comment directly on Allmendinger's situation in an interview Monday with SPEED TV but said he has been tested at least eight times in his career, including a test right after his first NASCAR top-10 finish.
"NASCAR tests a variety of things," Hornish told SPEED. "It's not just illegal drugs. It's over-the-counter drugs, it's prescription drugs. They want to make sure that not only do they know what we're putting in our body, but if it's a prescription drug or an over-the-counter drug, that we're doing the right amount of dosage. They're very on top of this."
Allmendinger was selected for a random drug test the weekend of July 1 at Kentucky Speedway. Allmendinger's "A" sample tested positive, and NASCAR has not announced what substance or substances Allmendinger tested positive for. Monday night, Penske Racing and Allmendinger requested Allmendinger's "B" sample to be tested, as a driver's urine sample is split into a primary and secondary samples.
"Penske Racing is continuing to work with NASCAR to follow its process and procedures related to the positive drug test that AJ Allmendinger was notified of this past weekend," Penske officials said in a statement. "While this process continues, Sam Hornish, Jr., will drive the No. 22 car in this week's Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway."
Tim Cindric, the president of Penske Racing, posted Monday on Twitter that the organization retained Hornish for the Sprint Cup race in New Hampshire to ensure that Penske was properly prepared for Loudon's 1.058-mile oval, a track that requires more precision driving than Daytona's 2.5-mile superspeedway.
Cindric said he "does not know when/if B sample test will occur 4 AJ.If it does happen, could take days 4 results."
Allmendinger is the second Sprint Cup driver to be suspended since 2009 under NASCAR's substance abuse policy, which was restructured to include random drug testing. If Allmendinger's "B" test result is positive for a banned substance, he would be suspended indefinitely by NASCAR.
In 2009, Jeremy Mayfield was suspended indefinitely after he tested positive for methamphetamines; Mayfield hasn't driven since his suspension.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.