(WOMR file photo)
It was just eleven months ago, the Coke Zero 400 weekend , July 2012, that A. J. Allmendinger was indefinitely suspended from NASCAR following a failed drug test. His world was beginning to spiral out of his control, and simultaneously implode all around him. Because of Allmendiger’s failed drug test, Roger Penske was forced to remove him from a very primo NASCAR Sprint Cup ride, the Shell/Pennzoil #22 Penske Dodge.
Unlike a few previous NASCAR competitors, Allmendinger complied with all the requirements that was set out before him, in order to return to racing in that series. Even though Allmendinger was released from Penske Racing, and he was without a permanent ride in the Sprint Cup Series, James Finch stepped up to the plate to hired A.J. to drive in selected races last fall, and in the early part of this season.
Notwithstanding the fact that Roger Penske released Allmendinger from the NASCAR ride, Mr. Penske still honored the contract, and continued to keep “The Dinger” on the payroll. This year Penske found sponsorship to put A.J. in a few Indy Car races. The highlight came in May when Allmendinger qualified 5th for the Indy 500, led many laps, and finished in 7th place, at the end of the day!
This weekend A.J. jumped into the Penske Racing #22 Discount Tires Ford, normally driven by “Blazingly Bad” Brad Keselowski, and qualified that car on the pole for the Nationwide Series Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America in Lake Elkhart, WI. Not only did “The Dinger” lead the field to the green flag today, he dominated the rest of the field all day long, led the field to the checkered flag in the second Green-White-Checkered attempt, and secured the victory for himself, as well as for Roger Penske!
This was the first race in the Nationwide Series for A.J. in nearly five years, he last competed in the Nationwide Series for Everham Racing at Phoenix.
Everyone deserves a second chance! But what make this a great feel good story is that A.J. Allmendinger has proven his metal in the racing world. He is like “the mythical Phoenix” that has risen from the burning ashes that had encircled his life just eleven short months ago!
There is jubilation in “Dingertown” tonight!
Go A.J. Allmendinger!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!