Hampton, GA (Sports Network) - A.J. Allmendinger will get a second chance to
compete in the Sprint Cup Series full-time more than one year after he was
placed on suspension by NASCAR for violating its substance abuse policy.
JTG Daugherty Racing announced on Saturday that Allmendinger will drive the
No. 47 Toyota for the team during the 2014 Sprint Cup season. The announcement
was made at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the site of this weekend's 500-mile race.
Allmendinger is substituting for Bobby Labonte in the car at Atlanta. Labonte,
who was scheduled to compete here, suffered three broken ribs in a bike riding
accident near his North Carolina home earlier this week.
In July 2012, Allmendinger was suspended from NASCAR competition when he
failed his drug test. He also lost his ride with Penske Racing seven months
after he signed with the team to drive the No. 22 car. NASCAR reinstated
Allmendinger later in the '12 season when he successfully completed its "Road
to Recovery" program.
"I feel like it's going to be a lot of hard work, a lot of building, but we
can make this race team into something strong, and it's just been a great year
for me," Allmendinger said. "All the opportunities that I've had to lead to
this to be able to be back in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time next year
is something that at this point last year I never thought would happen. Just
thoroughly excited and really ready to finish this season off strong and
really looking forward to getting to Daytona next year."
Labonte, the 2000 Cup Series champion, has been the driver of the No. 47 since
the start of the 2011 season, but earlier this season, JTG Daugherty hired
Allmendinger to drive the car for at least five races to help with the team's
development of the new Sprint Cup race car, the Gen-6.
Allmendinger has driven the No. 47 in three races this season. He delivered
the team's best finish of the season, 10th, earlier this month in Watkins
"He's a phenomenal person," team co-owner Tad Geschickter said. "I was very
impressed with his talent, enthusiasm, the way he interacted with the sponsors
and everyone, and the relationship I guess kind of evolved over the three
races we've done. I'd say halfway through these two months that we've been
working together we started talking more and more about. Hey, maybe it's
Allmendinger is scheduled to drive the car at Kansas and the season-finale at
Homestead, but he could have additional races if Labonte continues to be
sidelined with his injuries.
"Bobby is pretty banged up right now," Geschickter said. "He has another
doctor's appointment on Monday, so I guess as a football head coach says, 'It
may be a game-time decision.' Bobby still has a burning passion to drive the
race car and see his contract through the end, but having said that, we
obviously don't want to him to risk further injury or push the issue, so more
Allmendinger has been running a partial Sprint Cup schedule for Phoenix Racing
this year. He drove for Penske in the Nationwide races at Road America and
Mid-Ohio, winning both of those events. Penske also gave Allmendinger a ride
in the Indianapolis 500. He finished seventh in that event after leading 23
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