|AJ Allmendinger is back|
Earnhardt announced today that he will be sidelined for the next two races after suffering a concussion in a final-lap crash at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I hadn’t even planned on going to the track this weekend,” said Allmendinger today. “I went to the gym this morning, without my phone. When I got back at 9:00, it was blown up with calls and text messages. I got a voice mail from (Phoenix Racing general manager) Steve Barkdoll saying, `Can you get to the track as soon as possible? We kinda need a driver.’"
For Allmendinger, Saturday night’s race will mark his first Sprint Cup Series start since being suspended by NASCAR on July 7 after failing a random substance abuse test. He subsequently blamed a single tablet of Adderall given to him by a friend for the failed test, and was reinstated by the sanctioning body last month after completing the Road to Recovery program. He returned to the garage as a spectator last weekend at Talladega, and spoke to Phoenix Racing owner James Finch about filling the seat in the No. 51 Chevrolet.
“This is obviously not the way I wanted this to happen,” said Allmendinger. “I don’t ever want to see anyone get hurt, much less a guy like Dale who’s in the running for the championship. I don’t have details on what will happen going forward, I’m just driving to the track to get fitted into a race car. I’m sure it’s going to be a little hectic today, trying to get comfortable in the car after not driving anything for so long, but I’m appreciative for the opportunity.
“I’m happy to have a ride for the weekend, and I’m going to do my best to get a good finish Saturday night for James Finch and Phoenix Racing.”