Thursday, August 16, 2012

COMMENTARY: "What" And "How" Don't Matter Anymore

AJ Allmendinger has been suspended from NASCAR for 41 days now, and the questions just keep on coming.

What drug was found in Allmendinger’s system? How much was found, how did it get there, and how? Was it ingested intentionally, or accidentally? Was it a one-time occurrence, or part of a long-term pattern of addiction? Titillating questions, one and all. But not one of them – in my opinion – remotely relevant any longer. 

At the risk of bucking the tide of public opinion, I believe it’s time to stop searching for the “truth” behind Allmendinger’s suspension, and begin focusing on what appears to be a sincere effort by the driver to return to the good graces of the sport.  

Allmendinger says he inadvertently took a tablet of the prescription drug Adderall, offered by a “friend of a friend” while out on the town. Some accept his explanation at face value, while others question his honesty. Either way, I don’t think it matters any longer. 

Whether the former Penske Racing driver swallowed a single, ill-advised tablet of someone else’s ADHD medication, or got caught red-handed with a syringe full of heroin in his neck, it’s over and done now. He’s been busted, suspended by NASCAR and fired from his ride with Penske Racing; one of the elite teams in all of NASCAR. He has weathered a blistering storm of public scrutiny and criticism; some of it inspired by a handful of unfortunate misstatements and half-truths emanating from his own camp.  

It’s time to accept the fact that we will never know the whole truth surrounding Allmendinger’s fall from grace. He does know what happened, however, as does NASCAR and its substance abuse testing agency, Aegis Laboratories. At the end of the day, that’s enough, since NASCAR and Aegis – not the media or the public at large – are the ones tasked with ensuring that Allmendinger remains banished from the port until his long-term sobriety and fitness for competition have been re-established, beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

Allmendinger said recently that he hopes to complete NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program by the end of the month. Others dispute that claim, saying the process cannot possibly be completed in such a short amount of time.  

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether Allmendinger completes the program on August 31st, September 1st, or a decade from now. All that matters is that he passes every NASCAR substance abuse test administered to him from now until the end of time, proving himself clean and sober – over the long haul – before being cleared to return to the sport.

Photo: Getty Images


  1. Very well said Dave!! What's done is done, wrong is wrong, we all screw up, time to drag the dinger up from under the bus, dust him off, give him the last pickled egg out of the jar and set him on his way back to driving a race car somewhere!

  2. Anonymous1:07 PM

    Well put

  3. I agree Dave... well said as always

    Lori (colorado)

  4. Anonymous1:13 PM

    well said Mr Moody.
    Nascar has a system in place for the safety of the Nascar competitor and race fan. AJ's personality and talent will grant him a ride for 2013 in some form of racing whether it be lawn mower racing or Cup. But he will forever have the stigma over his head as a drug user; clean or not...

  5. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Dave great story every one screws up. Aj feels so bad about it he knows he sccrewed and he is going to try his hardest to get back and show that he is hear t race and thats all that maters

  6. Dave you are, as usual, spot on. The inability of people and especially some media to accept, move on & support the actions being taken by AJ is very disturbing. I agree we may never know & I'm good with that, so I wish him the best. What info that is required to be released should be sufficient for all. We need less of these bottom feeding "investigative" reporters & more truth speakers as yourself in all facets of info.

  7. I agree with this. It is time to see how he progresses thru the recovery program. Some make it and never have a problem again. Others go through a rehab class and it doesn't change anything. Only time will tell now.

  8. Anonymous1:24 PM

    I Disagree, His Story is one of an Addict's, took a pill from a friend of a friend?? Really? a Guy with the Chance of a Multimillion dollar Contract would Put Himself in that position is troubling to say the Least. And let's not forget the DWI in 2009, would anybody here Drink and Drive if you were a Sprint Cup Driver? I hope he gets his life together and doesn't end up a sad Shane Hmiel story.

    1. Anonymous9:20 PM

      Just another druggie story... one excuse story after another. Does anyone consider the 42 other drivers he put at risk at 180mph? IF he is a user, he'll have to be clean for 1 yr before being reinstated to Nascar.

    2. Loren chiever12:35 AM

      I will tell you my name is Loren Chiever, I don't need to hide under Anonymous. I will say this, I hope you or one of you kids never has a problem like AJ. I am sure you would throw out your kid. Give AJ a chance, he paid a big price no matter what he did. Now he needs to get straight and move on. More power to him, and I hope he comes out on top.

    3. Anonymous1:00 AM

      When someone's life is spinning out of control it is quite possible to make rash decisions without thinking clearly. Going through a divorce, expectations set by others and himself, NASCAR and sponsor obligations, every day life challenges could easily contributed to what AJ claims. I'm not saying I agree with what he did but also can't state he is a drug addict.

      He served his punishment for the DUI but people continue to crucify him for it. I don't agree with taking drugs or drinking and driving but I'm tired of people slamming him when they themselves are not perfect. Brian France admitted to drinking & driving though not charged because he was in his house & police couldn't arrest him, John Wes Townley charged with DUI, Kurt Busch detained for DUI but charged with reckless driving, Michael Waltrip was also suspected of drunk driving. I'm sure there are others too.

      Instead of finger pointing and slamming AJ for what happened, wish him well as he completes the Road to Recovery and gets his life back in a healthy manner. I for one wish him the best and hope to see him racing again soon.

  9. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Great commentary Moody.

    Those that think it's any of their business regarding the circumstances surrounding Dinger's fall from Grace need to simply worry about themselves. I wonder if they'd like us poking into their lives while the purity squads of NASCAR harrumph their way to the next victim.

    They're doing it with Kyle, last year he was a bum, this year he is too quiet. I can't wait for the attendance figures from Bristol this fall.

    Leave Dinger alone. Words to live by. He isn't your family, he isn't your employee, he's a good kid out of a job because of a mistake, and it's none of YOU the fans business what happened, period.

    Go back to complaining about too few cautions.

    Doug from Leave the Dinger alone, NJ

  10. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Awesome Piece Dave, I was wondering why yesterday you didnt post anything about the ESPN story on your Blog, I see why, because you are one of those true journalist that doesnt just believe a "source", you have truely outdone yourself with this article, whether or not AJ is innocent or guilty is not for any of us to decide, when a person screws up, everyone wants to pull out all of there past mistakes and use them against him or her, big deal he had a DWI, who are you to be judge, jury and executioner. how would you feel if you did something stupid, and all your past sins were brought out in the open for the whole world to see. You would be the pot calling the kettle black.

    1. I have no problem with David Newton, or his story. All of us are required to quote anonymous sources from time to time, it's part of doing business. I just think that at this point, what's done is done. AJ will not be able to come back to NASCAR until he proves (over and over again) that he is clean. With that said, I'm not interested in speculating any further on what may have happened.

    2. Anonymous7:20 PM

      Big Deal He Had a DWI? Really? Tell that to the next Family that Loses a Loved One From a Drunk. Or Better Yet Go Speak for the Drunk at his Sentencing "Big Deal He Had a DWI" When you have a Job that requires Driving, do you want a DWI on your record? Truckers loose their CDL for DWI's it shows bad Judgement and Lack of Control, and it was the First sign of AJ's undoing

  11. I agree the man made a mistake lets move on and let him work on getting his life and career back on track.

  12. the debster2:18 PM


  13. Thank you! I have started fastfowarding DVR or changing the channel every time story is repeated...leave the guy alone and let him get through this...he made mistake...we will probably never know the whole truth but at this point how much more air-time or media postings is enough? Let's move on already!

  14. Anonymous2:46 PM

    A rational voice in a sea of extremists looking for eyeballs. Amen Dave!

  15. I agree. What matters is from here on out.

    Unfortunately, with the constant pummeling, I think his sobriety will be only for the good of the rest of his family and more importantly himself. Which I believe is how he should approach it. But I think his golden opportunity is squashed.


  16. Anonymous3:08 PM

    i agree and everybody wants to call him a addict when hes been tested before and never came up dirty till now. i love how cowards want to use the name source instead of there real name and use words like unlikly when they dont know weather he did more then he said or not

  17. Scott C. (Kentucky)3:22 PM

    I found AJ's interview refreshing. I applaud him for coming forward and saying he did intentionally take something and that it was stupid. Who knows and who cares if he took one or a hundred and one. At least he said it was on him. I applaud any athlete that takes responsibility of any kind any more. Another great commentary! Thanks

  18. I agree Moody. All the semantics of AJ's situation can be debated for weeks on end without getting any closer to the truth. That lies with AJ and him alone. Hopefully he will complete the program and get back into some kind of car. AJ is one hell of a wheelman and I will cross my fingers he gets to showcase that into the future without any type of relapses.

    Side note though, I wish NASCAR would use someone like Shane Hmeil as a spokesperson for what can happen if you abuse substances and just what it can cost you. He may be banned for life, but I doubt anyone else could really give the real story with honesty like he could. Might be good for all rookies across the board. Just an idea anyways.

  19. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Anyone that has ever dealt with an addict will tell you that only when the addict begins telling the truth does the true road to recovery start.

    Best sign you are dealing with an addict? Lies and excuses.

  20. It really angers to see people on various websites calling him an "addict" or "drug user". Apparently those people aren't aware that he has been tested about 15-20 times in his NASCAR career and has never tested positive until now. No matter what the circumstances were that led to him taking the Adderall, it was one pill and a one time occurence. Had he taken the same medication under doctor supervision, it would have been fine by NASCAR and he would still be driving in the #22 Penske Dodge. Dave, this is an awesome article and you're right, what's done is done, but in my personal opinion, people should stop treating him like a drug addict because history has shown that he is not. The drug that was found in his system is a completely legal substance, one that is precribed to adults and children, and although AJ did make a huge mistake in taking the medication, it was nothing more than a mistake. I truly don't believe A.J. has done anything deliberately to completely shatter his career and I'm like you, I wish people would just get on with it and stop with the scrutiny so he can start picking up the pieces. He made his bed and he's lying in it, but for the people who continue acting like he's a dope head, get a grip. It was ONE PILL.

  21. Richard7:35 PM

    Dave i respect your opinion but i believe you are wrong. With all the conflicting reports it has become a credibility issue in my book. It went from testing everything in his house to taking a pill from a friend of a friend. Kurt Busch got more flack from the media for threatning a reporter than they gave A.J.for failing a drug test.Whose report will you believe

  22. Anonymous11:50 PM

    I disagree. I personally believe that all his problems, divorce, etc, have something to do with what took him down. I would personally have a better chance of forgiving him if he had the balls to admit what he did. His story is total BS, he's lying, anyone who believes it is living in La La Land. He sounds like everyone else I know that's failed a drug test. Too bad, but he did it to himself.