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Published: Tuesday, 7/24/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Hornish continues behind wheel for Penske Racing

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sam Hornish Jr., right, will continue driving for Penske Racing, while AJ Allmendinger is indefinitely suspended for violating the organizations substance abuse policy. Sam Hornish Jr., right, will continue driving for Penske Racing, while AJ Allmendinger is indefinitely suspended for violating the organizations substance abuse policy.
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Sam Hornish Jr., will continue to drive on NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.

Penske Racing announced Tuesdaynight that Hornish, a Defiance native, will drive the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge for the next two Sprint Cup races after NASCAR suspended AJ Allmendinger indefinitely for violating the organization's substance abuse policy.

Hornish will drive in this weekend's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Pennsylvania 400 on Aug. 5 at Pocono Raceway.

Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said after the July 15 Sprint Cup race in New Hampshire that Hornish would drive if Allmendinger was not available to drive in Sunday's Brickyard 400.

In an email, NASCAR stated that Allmendinger violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (NASCAR's substance abuse policy) of the 2012 NASCAR rule book.

"In accordance with NASCAR's Substance Abuse Policy, Penske Racing was notified today of AJ Allmendinger's positive B sample test," Penske Racing said in a release. "We respect NASCAR's policy and the process they have taken with this matter.

"Penske Racing is very disappointed with the result of the B sample test and will evaluate its course of action as it pertains to AJ over the coming week."

Allmendinger initially failed a random drug test administered June 29 at Kentucky Speedway. While NASCAR does not name the substance for which a driver tests positive, Allmendinger's business manager, Tara Ragan, said Allmendinger's initial urine sample tested positive for a stimulant. Allmendinger requested that his second sample -- the "B" sample -- be tested on Tuesday in Nashville with an independent toxicologist present.

"This was not the news we wanted to hear and we will work to get to the source of what may have caused this," Ragan said in a statement posted Tuesday night to Allmendinger's Web site, ajallmendinger.com, "To that end, we have secured the services of an independent lab to conduct thorough testing on every product within AJ's home and motor coach to find what might collaborate with his test, which created results that were within nanograms of accepted standards. We are working closely with NASCAR and Penske Racing to identify the next action steps in this process."

Allmendinger is now required to complete a NASCAR "Road To Recovery" substance-abuse program that could include counseling, treatment, or rehabilitation. He can also opt to seek legal action in lieu of a treatment program in order to be reinstated to NASCAR's ranks.

Since the suspension, Hornish has driven in Allmendinger's place in two Sprint Cup Series races.

Hornish replaced Allmendinger in the Coke Zero 400 on July 7 at Daytona International Speedway, arriving hours after NASCAR announced its initial suspension of Allmendinger and minutes before the start of the race. Hornish finished 31st at Daytona, then finished 22nd in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on July 15 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Hornish is currently fourth in the Nationwide Series points standings, behind points leader Elliott Sadler.

This weekend, Hornish will return to the track where he won the 2006 Indianapolis 500, when he drove on the open-wheel IndyCar circuit. Hornish said earlier this month that he would like to be considered to drive full-time for Penske Racing.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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