Voices from the Cheapseats · Jeff Meyer · Thursday September 20, 2012
Is it just me, or does anyone else get the feeling that something still just ain’t right with all this? I speak of none other the latest chapter in the NASCAR vs Allmendrugger…I mean, Allmendinger saga.
NASCAR Reinstates Driver AJ Allmendinger: NASCAR has reinstated driver AJ Allmendinger upon his successful completion of NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy Road to Recovery Program. Allmendinger had been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR on July 24 for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy (NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)
AND Allmendinger’s statement:
“I want to thank everyone for their support through this entire process,” said Allmendinger. “I appreciate that NASCAR created the Road to Recovery program, and am grateful for the opportunity to return to competition. The Road to Recovery program was really helpful to me in getting my priorities reset away from the race track. And, honestly, that helped find my love of racing again and why I began racing in the first place. I’m looking forward to taking this experience and be better for it moving forward.”(9-18-2012)
As I read this press release, my reaction quite frankly, was an astonished WTF!? By a staggering coincidence, that was exactly the same reaction I had just barely 2 months ago when it was announced that AJ had been suspended in the first place.
Back then, I, along with many others found it quite incredulous that, of all people, AJ Allmendinger would be suspended for illegal drug use. I even went so far as to suggest that the whole thing seemed extremely convenient for Matt Kenseth, who had announced just days before, that he was leaving Roush Fenway Racing.
While I was slightly off in thinking that Kenseth would wind up in the vacated No. 22 at Penske, I WAS indirectly right, as it allowed the young Joey Logano to land in the Penske camp, which in turn opened the door for Kenseth to take Joey’s former ride at Joe Gibbs Racing.
As we all know, the entire Logano/Kenseth switcheroo was all extremely hush hush, right up to a few days ago when it was all ‘officially’ announced by all involved. All, that is, except for Allmendinger, who many by now had all but forgotten about. He was, after all, a supposed ‘drug user’ as NASCAR had branded him and had started down NASCAR’s amazing ‘Road to Recovery’ program.
Apparently, in the case of AJ Allmendinger, the ‘Road to Recovery’ that NASCAR chose to send him down wasn’t so much a ‘road’ as it was a ‘driveway’! I mean, has ANYONE, in the history of NASCAR and/or drugs, ever completed a rehab program so quickly!?
To be honest, I was just beginning to come to terms with the fact that maybe, just maybe, I was a little too quick to link the Kenseth leaving – AJ suspended announcements and I was OK with that. As I said, I was sort of indirectly right, as the two were linked in some fashion. Having already made my peace with myself, all was good in my own little mind…until this sudden and unexpected ‘reinstatement’ by a sanctioning body that is notoriously slower than a turtle on Valium to do ANYTHING, let alone let a ‘dangerous drug user’ back on the track. How can one NOT smell something fishy in all this?
Was AJ some kind of ‘sacrificial lamb’ amongst two powerful team owners? Would he agree to such a underhanded deal (for a fee of course) or now that the deal is done, is this reinstatement just their way of saying ‘sorry ‘bout that! Here’s your driving career back!’ So many questions!
While there may be lingering questions, there are two things that I do know; a) this miraculous recovery that AJ pulled off sure makes NASCAR’s Road to Recovery almost laughable. Think about it…they put drivers on probation for cussing during an interview for longer than it takes a drug user to recover! The second thing is…only one person in all of NASCAR could pull off a faster drug use rehabilitation than AJ and that is Brian France. I’d bet that, if Brian were to somehow be subject to the same drug use policy as the rest of the sport and find himself suspended…he’d miraculously recover and be re-instated in a couple of hours, not months!
Stay off the wall,
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