The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: Paying The Price In NASCAR, On The Track And Off by John Potts -- Thursday August 9, 2012

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This week, a reader named Billy in Boise wants to know,

What’s your take on the Allmendinger situation?

I suppose, Billy that it’s much the same as everybody’s take on the situation. It’s sad. The guy made a serious mistake, and now he’s paying for it. Also, like everyone else, I have some questions myself. He says a “friend” gave him a pill, supposedly Adderall, and said it was an energy supplement, like you would take prior to a workout.

What does AJ think this is, high school? Even though it was more than 50 years ago, I can remember somebody handing me a pill and saying, “Try this, you’ll love it.” I was lucky. My father was a salesman for a pharmaceutical wholesaler, and I had been exposed to a lot of knowledge of what could happen. That pill went into the next trash can down the hall.

As it turns out, if he’s telling the truth AJ Allmendinger went Alex P. Keaton and unknowingly took an Adderall tablet prior to the Kentucky event on June 30th. A week later, he would fail a random drug screening and was removed from the No. 22 Penske Dodge.

My next question concerns the statement that this particular pill AJ was offered contained at least some amphetamine. Folks, several years back I spent some time taking 20 milligrams of B-amphetamine a day, under a doctor’s orders and with a prescription, and I can’t recall it ever helping me sleep. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact; and remember, AJ’s statement is coming from a man who said he had trouble sleeping and focusing due to a difficult season and problems in his personal life, stemming from a failing marriage.

Something’s not quite right here.

Joe from Sacramento asks,

How about Todd Bodine’s outburst during the Truck race last weekend, and then his subsequent apology?

First, as many others in this business have stated, you’re always taking your chances when you stick a microphone in front of a race driver right after an incident like that. However, I suppose that’s part of the price we pay for getting practically everything, from practice through the post-race, on live national television. I couldn’t believe that Todd felt like the incident was somebody else’s fault. I also don’t understand why some of these drivers’ PR reps don’t get hold of them first, tell them what they saw on the replay and help calm them down. On the other hand, this kind of stuff makes NASCAR more interesting, doesn’t it?

That being said, Todd did take to Twitter on Monday stating, “Saw the replay of the wreck, need to apologize to @NelsonPiquet, my fault for sure. Sorry to all for acting like an ass!!”

Looks like someone finally showed him the clip.

We also got a phone call and an e-mail or two this week asking how I felt about Dodge pulling out of NASCAR after this season.

I’ve been something of a Mopar fan for years, back to 1966 when I helped Harry Hyde a little on that first K&K Insurance Dodge, so I’m sorry to see it happen, but it’s not a big surprise. Roger Penske, with all his resources, obviously feels that he can’t be as successful as he wants to be running those cars, and he’s going back to Ford for 2013.

Judging from what the man from Dodge (SRT CEO and Brand President Ralph Gilles) said about “exploring their options,” something else is also obvious. They didn’t feel that they were going to be able to attract any high-profile (read that successful) teams to carry their banner for next year. Running in the back of the pack is not conducive to the old, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” philosophy, and to be perfectly frank, it’s not good PR. Dodge decided to bail out, so we can only hope they decide to come back at some time or other.

You may also be wondering, just how seriously do the auto execs feel about this kind of thing? That brings to mind a situation at Indianapolis Raceway Park one night after the Truck race. If my memory serves me correctly, Greg Biffle won the event while Fords took the first three spots. During the post-race interviews, a tire blew on one of the trucks sitting on pit road. Somebody in the press box said, “What was that?”

A friend of mine sitting next to me, who was a prominent new car dealer responded, “The Chevrolet zone manager just shot himself.”

Ask John Potts A Question

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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Michael in SoCal
08/09/2012 11:29 AM

I think you’re mis-reading Allmendinger’s statement about not sleeping – he was tired from not sleeping, so he needed something to pep him up, to which the friend then offered him the Adderall. It wasn’t to help him sleep, it was to give him some energy.

Michael in SoCal
08/09/2012 12:05 PM

Although after reading a post at dalyplanet by John Daly today it sounds like AJ may be having some serious issues. Good to see he is getting some help. This would have made for a very interesting reality TV series (behind the scenes on Nascar’s Road To Recovery), although that would likely be a huge distraction to all parties.

Good luck AJ – I hope you find some peace, and maybe a decent ride, in the future.

Bruce Simmons
08/09/2012 02:02 PM

I was behind A.J. Allmendinger for quite some time, and when he failed the drug test, I was still behind him. Because, well, things happen. Tests aren’t perfect. –
Yet once his PR team started screwing up with misquotes and corrections, I started wondering. –
Then he finally spoke and what I heard, was what sounded like a line from Fox’s Sat night show, COPS: “I got it from a friend of a friend.” –
And suddenly I was sad for Dinger. A cheap excuse on top of what his PR machine was botching up was not adding up well. And then to hear him in his interviews talking about being in trouble or what not made me ask this: Is he really in trouble or are these lamentations more excuses? –
For me, I’ll be adding this to his 2009 DUI that lost him his RPM ride, and wondering where he’s really headed. –
For me, I feel like I might have fallen for his image spin these last few years. I hope I’m wrong but I’m preparing to be right. Good luck with your program AJ… Here’s hoping.

08/09/2012 10:06 PM

NASCAR’s drug testing policy has flaws, but the big mistakes in this episode came from the Allmendinger camp.

Tara Reagan’s statements gave me the impression that they knew more than they would admit. Maybe AJ wasn’t tell her everything, but she did badly with what she had.

There are no magic pills or energy drinks. If you need a pick-me-up, stick with caffeine and stay away from anything that isn’t in a bottle with a name on it.

NASCAR has expensive teams of lawyers and publicists to make sure they don’t embarrass themselves. Unless Brian France is making a personal appearance, all their stuff is going to be backed up with charts, graphs and statistics. The driver will always lose a “he said-she said” argument.

Allmendinger wasn’t a star and he had Dodge behind him. Things may have been different if this was Jimmie Johnson or Carl Edwards, but they would have been smarter and had better publicists.