Monday, July 23, 2012

Petition to NASCAR - A Plea for Leniency

*Edited for clarification: This petition is not to debate AJ's guilt or innocence before NASCAR. It is directed towards whoever determines the "Road to Recovery" steps (aka AJ's punishment) that he needs to take in order to get reinstated. This petition isn't for NASCAR to circumvent the rules but for them to take the circumstances of the case into consideration before sentencing AJ's career to certain death. The bottom line of the matter is that NASCAR needs AJ in the sport.*


To Whom it May Concern in NASCAR:

As fans of AJ Allmendinger we want you to consider your actions carefully when examining all the information that will be revealed after AJ's "B" sample test results come back. Whatever the circumstances are, please keep in mind the spirit of the rule which you are enforcing. The substance abuse policy was set forth as a safety standard and needs to be implemented as such. When you start looking at the HUGE gray area of supplements, energy drinks, and other unregulated herbal remedies you can't just force things into being black and white.

Before deciding on AJ's punishment, remember what keeps NASCAR alive - the fans. Without fans there is no reason to continue putting on these races every weekend. You want to know what fans are missing and why they don't enjoy NASCAR as much anymore? NASCAR fans are looking for heart. They want to see drivers with emotions and passion and true heart - AJ Allmendinger has that. If he isn't racing in NASCAR it is a huge loss to your association.

AJ needs to be reinstated as soon as possible. No matter what his "B" test results are, we will continue to believe that this entire situation was without any intent on his part to subvert the rules - even worst case scenario it was no more than a lapse in due diligence on his part. AJ deserves no more punishment than the three weeks he has already been suspended and the points he has lost. Please reinstate him immediately.


AJ Allmendinger fans

(If you agree with this petition, please state your name and where you're from. Feel free to add what makes you an AJ fan and what it would mean for you to not have him in NASCAR.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guest Article by Jason Nance

It is time for NASCAR to provide additional information about its drug testing process to protect drivers, sponsors, and most importantly, its integrity to the sports fans who support NASCAR. During the last positive drug test, AJ Allmendinger tested slightly positive for an amphetamine, a stimulant that can be found in both legal and illegal compounds. There have been references made by Dr. Howard Greller on Sirius NASCAR about a ingredient within Fuel in a Bottle, an energy drink endorsed by AJ Allmendinger. NASCAR needs to ensure corporate sponsors and fans that each driver is treated fairly based on each situation that arises, in this case, it just happens to be a positive drug test.

In a audio interview with Sirius NASCAR, Dr. Howard Greller, Board Certified in Medical Toxicology, references an amino acid found within Fuel in a Bottle (1). L-phenylalanine, a building block of protein has a similar backbone structure of an amphetamine molecule. The first drug test looks for a broad base of chemicals and does not narrow in on a specific drug. The initial drug test showed AJ Allmendinger tested slightly above average in the amphetamine category.

Based on the initial drug test finding, NASCAR’s Medical Review Officer, Dr. Aukerman, found enough reason to suspend AJ Allmendinger. NASCAR has not released any information on why this step was taken. The lack of transparency has clouded the view of NASCAR for drivers and fans alike. If NASCAR could take this step with AJ Allmendinger over a possible energy drink, what could happen to other drivers in future testing? Another sponsor in NASCAR, 5 Hour Energy (2), also contains phenylalanine. Is NASCAR working with AEGIS labs to test out the impact on phenylalanine within its drug policy? This information needs to be released to other drivers so future mistakes around supplements can be prevented. Furthermore, these results can prove AJ Allmendinger’s innocence or guilt.

Under NASCAR’s current drug policy, if sample B comes back positive, the affected driver will be indefinitely suspended. In AJ Allmendinger’s case, if Fuel in the Bottle (3), a product AJ endorsed, helped the 155 pound athlete fail the initial test, why should the suspension be upheld? What drug  rehab is needed for a NASCAR driver drinking a supplement that he endorsed to help pay his bills? Furthermore, Dr. Black has been quoted with saying ‘Typically we (driver) talk once, and when they (driver) realize how hard the road is going to be, they give up’. NASCAR does not release this drug rehab plan to the public either, so the affected driver could be thrown under the bus by the sport he or she drove in to make a living.

NASCAR needs to publicly release information following the second drug test that confirms:
* If AJ Allmendinger tested positive for L-phenylalanine and if so, immediately reinstate him
* Update the drug policy to ban drivers, crew members, and spotters from taking energy drinks / shots

NASCAR’s reputation is on the line with AJ Allmendinger. Its decision will not only impact AJ’s career, but will impact corporate sponsors and drivers to change their investments and behavior. If its confirmed that AJ Allmendinger tested positive for L-phenylalanine, NASCAR should immediately reinstate him and make public all of the information surrounding his case to other NASCAR drivers. If not, NASCAR should assign the proper punishment.

Science proves that the the second sample B will come back positive. But will NASCAR use the same science to prove one of its own drivers innocence?

1) Sirius XM NASCAR,

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Will NASCAR's Integrity Be Tested by Allmendinger Decision?

I don’t want to debate whether AJ Allmendinger is ‘guilty’ or not – that’s not my call. No one has all the facts of the case right at the moment, or knows the context of the information we have been given. And maybe I’m in the minority of AJ fans, but I think NASCAR is going through the process appropriately. This article is not intended as a criticism of anything that has happened to date.

This article is about the future, because NASCAR’s sanctioning body will soon make a judgment call that will set a precedent for any offenses against the substance abuse policy; a precedent that will have to remain consistent throughout their enforcement of the policy if they want to maintain their integrity. NASCAR drivers are watching and waiting. Team owners are doing the same. Sponsors, officials,  and crew members are all hanging in suspense to see what happens next to driver AJ Allmendinger.

Speculation is rampant on social media sites that the cause of AJ’s positive test for stimulants was due to either a supplement or energy drink that he uses as part of his normal regimen of training. If that’s the case, many drivers and crew members who fall under the random substance abuse testing of NASCAR probably consider themselves lucky not to be in the same boat as AJ, since supplements and energy drinks are a staple for most athletes. And it seems that no one, not even AJ, knows for certain why his levels tested “slightly above the threshold” as stated by his business manager.

At this stage in the process, it now falls on toxicology experts to determine the precise cause of AJ’s positive test. If it can somehow be proven that the positive occurred because of a mis-dosage on an over the counter supplement or energy drink, it’s going to be up to NASCAR to determine AJ’s punishment. That’s a big decision. That’s when the NASCAR brass will have to determine if they’re going to follow the spirit in which the rule was implemented, or if they’re going to take a hard line no matter what the extenuating circumstances are.

When NASCAR’s current substance abuse policy went into effect in 2009, the purpose was to protect the safety and well-being of the competitors, officials, and spectators. That’s a noble effort for which NASCAR should be applauded, and I won’t ever argue against the intent of their policy. Safety should be one of their top priorities. But is safety an issue in this particular case? Is AJ deserving of an extended suspension and rehab for possibly drinking one too many energy drinks?

That's the kind of decision NASCAR is facing. When all the facts of AJ’s positive test come to light, how is NASCAR going to determine the scope of his punishment? Do they take into account whether or not there was intent on his part? When they’re determining the threshold for what’s allowable under their policy, do they make adjustments for differing heights and weights for each driver? And how do you examine whether or not there is misusage on an over the counter product when that product is more than likely not even covered by FDA standards?

It seems to me that there are going to be a lot more questions than answers, even after the toxicology reports come back on AJ’s ‘B’ sample test. NASCAR’s integrity may come into question, not about the process in which the drug policy was implemented, but about whether or not the punishment is fitting to the crime. Will NASCAR follow the spirit of the rule, or do they take an extremely blurry gray line and try to make it black and white? That’s the answer that everyone seems to be waiting for.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Updated Statement from AJ's Business Manager

Charlotte, NC (July 11, 2012) “In an effort to help our colleagues in the media report on this in a timely and accurate manner, we wanted to provide some additional details regarding AJ’s sample “A” test results. AJ tested positive for a stimulant. He has no idea why the first test was positive, and he has never knowingly taken any prohibited substance. AJ is collecting his medicines and supplements for testing to determine whether an over the counter product caused his positive test. AJ and all of us at Walldinger Racing respect NASCAR's testing program, and he has requested that his "B" sample be tested as part of the process of getting to the bottom of this. We will have the opportunity to review all of the scientific data surrounding the test following the "B" sample test, but our understanding is that AJ's test was slightly above the threshold. As of this morning, we have not been given notice of when the testing of the “B” sample will take place. Thanks again for all of the support of our fans, team, and sponsors as we continue working through the process.”

-Tara Ragan, Vice President, Walldinger Racing Inc.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

AJ's Statement

Statement from AJ Allmendinger:

Charlotte, NC (July 10, 2012) "I have informed NASCAR that I have requested that the "B" sample be tested, following the steps according to NASCAR’s 2012 rule book regarding this situation. I fully respect NASCAR's drug usage policy and the reasons they have it. I am hoping this can get resolved as quickly as possible so that I can get back to driving the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge. I am sorry that this has caused such a distraction for my Penske Racing team, our sponsors and fans. Obviously I would never do anything to jeopardize my opportunity here at Penske Racing or to my fellow drivers. I am very conscious about my training and health and would never knowingly take a prohibited drug."

Credit - Walldinger Racing PR

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Daytona II Race Preview

Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger enters Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 hoping for a problem-free restrictor-plate race. Saturday’s battle under the lights at Daytona International Speedway marks the third plate race of the 2012 season and Dinger has seen strength in his team’s plate racing program.

“We’ve had some incredibly fast race cars in the plate races this season, but we just don’t have the good finishes to match the strength we’ve shown,” said Allmendinger, who’ll be making his ninth career Daytona Cup start this weekend. “If we can just get through the whole race without the problems, there’s no reason we can’t come out of there with a great finish and have a legitimate shot at the win.

“We started off Speed Weeks at Daytona with a bang in winning the Rolex 24 with Michael Shank Racing and hoped to kick off our new Sprint Cup deal with a lot of success,” Dinger said. “We had a good run going in the Shootout, got caught up in the last big crash and still finished 12th. We were like 18th in qualifying and pretty solid with an eighth in our qualifying race.

“In the Daytona 500, we started 15th and had a really strong Shell-Pennzoil Dodge, but never had the opportunity to show it,” Dinger said. “We were only 15 laps into the race and hit pit road for what was supposed to be a fuel-only pit stop. Here comes the 39 car (Ryan Newman) out of his pit, loses a wheel and stops right in front of me. I had nowhere to go and hit him from the rear.

“So we’re only 15 laps into the Daytona 500 and our day was pretty much done. We had to hit the garage and get the radiator replaced. It was just a matter of getting back out there and logging laps after that.

For the record, Dinger was listed as finishing 34th in the season-opening Daytona 500, completing 177 of the 202 laps. In the most recent plate race, the May Aaron’s 499 at Talladega, Allmendinger started from the outside pole and was credited with a 15th-place finish.

“We had a heck of a qualifying run at Talladega with our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge,” said Allmendinger. “We ran in the top 10 all race long and had a good shot at winning until a restart with only a few laps to go. We were going for the same space as the 11 car was and it caused the final caution of the race. My guys did just an unbelievable job in patching our car up. It was quite incredible that we were able to come out of there with a 15th-place finish.”

“I am really looking forward to this weekend’s race at Daytona,” said crew chief Todd Gordon. “Like Talladega, this will be another impound race and I think that helps us. We just need to finally have an incident-free race day at the track.

“Sure, there’s a lot of difference between the two tracks – Talladega is bigger and wider and it’s more about the sheer speed,” said Gordon. “But it’s still all about putting a whole race together. All the plate races are big crap shoots. First, you have to have a day with no mechanical issues. Then, you have to be able to steer clear of the wrecks and be around for the finish.

“If you can accomplish that, you have a chance to win a race on the plate tracks,” Gordon said. “That’s what we are looking for this weekend at Daytona. AJ has shown tremendous focus and a great level of patience that has been really impressive. If we can have a problem-free race there on Saturday, we have as good of shot at winning as any team out there.”

Allmendinger’s third-place finish in the 2009 Daytona 500 rates as his best result to date in eight career points races on the 2.5-mile track (four starts in the Daytona 500 and four starts in the July Coke Zero 400). Overall, Dinger has one top-five finish and two top-10s at Daytona. He has a 17.2 average start and a 23.1 average finish and has been running at the finish in every race. He has a 91.1 percent (1,301 of 1,428) lap completion average.

In 16 career plate races, Dinger has one top-five finish and two top-10s. He has a 19.1 average start and a 24.5 average finish. He has a 95.5 percent (2,789 of 2,951) lap completion average in plate racing, even with two DNFs.

Dinger started ninth and drove to a 10th-place finish in last year’s Coke Zero 400. “It was a pretty solid run for us there last July,” Allmendinger said. “We had a good run going with my teammate (Marcos Ambrose), but we lost the draft at the end of the race. By the time we got hooked back up, everybody was already gone. We were able to bull our way through the crash at the end and came out with a 10th for the night.”

Allmendinger and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be racing their “PRS-642” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Daytona. The team brought this car out during Daytona Speed Weeks back in February. Dinger started 10th and finished eighth driving this chassis in the first Gatorade Duel qualifying race. He started 15th in the Daytona 500 and finished 34th after a run-in on pit road relegated the team to the garage area to replace the radiator. The team last raced this car at Talladega back in May. Dinger qualified it on the outside pole and finished 15th after getting involved in a late-race skirmish. The team will have their “PRS-626” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger on hand as their backup car.

This weekend’s Daytona International Speedway action gets under way on Thursday with practice set from 4:00 p.m. till 5:20 p.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 6:35 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 4:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & MRN Radio). Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 (160 Laps, 200 Miles) is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. EDT. Race No. 18 of 36 points-paying events on the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.

Credit - Penske Racing PR

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Kentucky Race Recap

Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger finished ninth in tonight’s Quaker State 400 here at Kentucky Speedway, marking his second top-10 finish in as many weeks. The Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 team is hoping they have turned the corner in finding the consistency they have lacked so far during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

“I was happy with the way most of the day went, especially around here because I haven’t been good around here,” Allmendinger said after the race. “A lot of the credit goes to Brad (teammate Brad Keselowski) in helping me out. He’s obviously really good (smiles). It’s good for the team to get another win.

“We’ve got to learn how to keep up with the race track,” Dinger added. “Obviously we show we got speed. We just got to be able to keep up better, whether that’s better info or whatever we need to do. We just kind of lack that in that area right now. We get better at that we got the speed obviously. We’ll hopefully keep getting better.”

Allmendinger started tonight’s race from the 16th position and immediately charged forward. He moved up to 13th on the first lap and was into the top-10 on Lap 4. Saying that his car was “just a little tight,” AJ powered around Kevin Harvick for ninth on Lap 15 and he passed Ryan Newman for eighth on Lap 25.

The first caution of the race came out on Lap 42 for Scott Riggs’ blown engine. Dinger was called down pit road for four tires and fuel, with no adjustments. He maintained the eighth position for the Lap 48 restart.

Allmendinger cleared Greg Biffle for seventh and continued a consistent pace through the first round of green-flag pit stops, which began on Lap 91. The Shell-Pennzoil Dodge hit pit road on Lap 95. The crew went with four tires, fuel and a half-round wedge adjustment.

When the stops had cycled around on Lap 100, AJ held the sixth spot. Kyle Busch was the leader, with Keselowski second, Jimmie Johnson third, Denny Hamlin fourth and Clint Bowyer fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Biffle rounded out the top-10 drivers at that point in the race.

Allmendinger reported that his Dodge continued to be a little tight as the second caution of the night flew on Lap 124, this one for debris on the frontstretch. Under the yellow, all of the top-10 cars hit pit road for right-side tires and fuel.

The “Double Deuce” lined up fifth for the Lap 129 restart, but the two-tire stop made the “Dinger Dodge” tighter than ever. AJ had fallen to eighth when Dave Blaney spun in Turn 4 to bring out the third yellow flag of the race. Kasey Kahne had gone a lap down earlier in his Quaker State Chevrolet after pitting under the green for a flat tire and got the free pass back onto the lead lap.

The leaders pitted again on Lap 150, with most going for right-side tires only once again. Allmendinger was seventh on the Lap 154 restart, but immediately started falling back. He had fallen to 11th on Lap 187 and reported that his car was now “in a four-wheel drift with no grip.” The team knew they had to go with four fresh Goodyears during their next trip to pit road.

With the handling becoming unbearable and the lap times slowing, the team “short-pitted” and hit pit road almost 10 laps earlier than planned on Lap 192. The call was for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments.

The other lead lap cars began their green-flag stops on Lap 200, with Keselowski leading on Lap 206 before hitting pit road. The stops cycled around on Lap 208, a lap before Newman blew an engine to bring out the fourth caution period of the race. Newman got into the outside wall hard. Regan Smith was an innocent victim as he got caught up in the oil behind Newman and also impacted the wall.

The yellow was a break for the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew as they were now able to get back in sequence with the other leaders as far as the fuel window went. They pitted on Lap 211 for four tires and fuel, with crew chief Gordon saying that the tire setup now offered a little needed “stagger.” The stop allowed Dinger to get the fuel he needed to go the distance.

The front four drivers – Keselowski, Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Kenseth – all chose to stay out during the yellow, thinking they had enough fuel to complete the race. Johnson lined up fifth, with Earnhardt sixth, Truex seventh, Jeff Gordon eighth, Harvick ninth and Biffle 10th. Kahne was back up to 11th, with Allmendinger 12th, Jamie McMurray 13th, Marcos Ambrose 14th and Paul Menard 15th as they lined up for the Lap 219 restart.

On the restart, Keselowski took off and spread it out to a three-second advantage over second-place Hamlin. Johnson had issues on the restart and fell back as far as 11th before gathering it up and moving back up through the field. Allmendinger moved around Harvick for 10th on Lap 238. When Edwards was forced to pit for fuel on Lap 262, Dinger climbed to ninth.

Kyle Busch had hit the wall earlier and damaged the rear end of his Toyota, pitting lap after lap during the prior caution for repairs. He charged back up through the pack and was 10th heading into the final lap. AJ ran out of fuel as he rounded Turns 3 and 4 on coming to the checkers, but was able to hold Busch off by inches at the line.

Keselowski took the victory, his third of the 2012 season, by 4.399 seconds over runner-up Kahne. Hamlin finished third, with Earnhardt fourth and Gordon fifth. Johnson, Kenseth, Truex, Allmendinger (ninth) and Busch rounded out the top-10 finishers.

Tonight’s finish marked Dinger’s third top-10 finish of the season and he looked at it as a potential momentum-builder.

“Martinsville was probably pretty good and I was happy with that,” Dinger said of his career-best second-place finish back in April this season. “But for a track that I’m not very good at, that I really struggle at and tough conditions, running inside the top 10 for pretty much all of the day and getting a ninth out of it which I’d like to have been a little bit better, but it’s something to build on.”

After 17 races have been put into the 2012 Sprint Cup Series record book, Allmendinger is 23rd in driver points. With 400 points, he currently trails 10th-place Keselowski by 137 points. He is 63 points behind 15th-place Newman and 28 behind 20th-place Jeff Burton.

The Sprint Cup Series now returns to Daytona International Speedway for the third of four restrictor-plate races during the 2012 season. This weekend’s Daytona action gets under way on Thursday with practice set from 4:00 p.m. till 5:20 p.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 6:35 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 4:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & MRN Radio). Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 (160 Laps, 200 Miles) is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. EDT. Race No. 18 of 36 points-paying events on the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.

Credit - Penske Racing PR