clear
Friday May 29th, 2015 12:25AM

Allmendinger continues amazing journey with win at Watkins Glen

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
Related Articles
WATKINS GLEN, NY - It's always particularly gratifying when someone returns from the abyss-gratifying because it's so rare and unexpected.<br /> <br /> Two years ago, A.J. Allmendinger made a horrific mistake. NASCAR pulled his number for a random drug test before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, and during the following week, the test came back positive.<br /> <br /> The Kentucky race would be Allmendinger's last in the No. 22 Team Penske car, one of the most coveted rides in the Cup garage.<br /> <br /> That would be the start of a long, difficult journey for the 32-year-old driver who on Sunday at Watkins Glen International validated the effort to revive his racing career with a riveting, hotly contested victory in the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen.<br /> <br /> Allmendinger, who completed NASCAR's Road to Recovery program after the failed drug test and subsequent suspension from competition, turned introspective after the win, acknowledging that, when he landed the ride with team owner Roger Penske for the 2012 season, he wasn't prepared for the accompanying pressure.<br /> <br /> "When I got with Roger, I knew it was the best opportunity of my life, and I tried to fake it inside and say this is the right time for it," Allmendinger said. "I kept telling myself, 'Yeah, this is the right time for it,' but I knew it wasn't the right time for it. <br /> <br /> "Over the course of what happened, it made me become a better person and just really try to understand what life is all about because unfortunately the sport will take over your life. It will completely ... when it's good, it takes over, but when it's bad, it really takes over, because that's all you can think about."<br /> <br /> Allmendinger's suspension gave Penske no choice but to replace him in the No. 22. Nevertheless, on the strength of his warm personality and genuine likability, Allmendinger had banked enough currency in the sport to earn a second chance-a slow, gradual second chance.<br /> <br /> After completing the Road to Recovery, Allmendinger raced four times for team owner James Finch in the final two months of the 2012 season.<br /> <br /> In 2013, he competed in 18 of the 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup points races, driving for Finch and for JTG/Daugherty, the latter after the team opted to use Allmendinger in lieu of Bobby Labonte for the mid-season Michigan and Kentucky race.<br /> <br /> All told, Allmendinger got behind the wheel of the No. 47 car nine times that year. JTG/Daugherty subsequently signed Allmendinger to drive full-time in 2014 and beyond. <br /> <br /> That same season, Penske put Allmendinger in his No. 22 Nationwide Series car for the road-course races at Road America and Mid-Ohio. Allmendinger won both. <br /> <br /> Beyond that, Penske fielded a car for Allmendinger in six IndyCar races, including the Indianapolis 500. Allmendinger, who came to stock car racing from an open-wheel background, led 23 laps at Indy and finished seventh, even though problems with his harness forced an unscheduled pit stop midway through the race.<br /> <br /> And on Sunday, after he and Marcos Ambrose took racing at the Glen to an almost impossibly high level, Allmendinger repaid the faith of team owners Brad Daugherty and Tad and Jodi Geschickter by delivering the team's first Sprint Cup victory.<br /> <br /> With the victory comes a virtually guaranteed berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, where JTG/Daugherty and Allmendinger will compete against the giants of the sport.<br /> <br /> It will be a huge step up in class for the single-car team.<br /> <br /> But that step pales in comparison with the journey Allmendinger has already made.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 4 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 4 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 4 months ago )
Sports
Pits will be tight as Chili Bowl entry count hits 316
TULSA, OK - The 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire is on track to be a record smashing event, with the entry count climbing over the 300 mark for the first time to 316 entries confirming 303 drivers for the indoor spectacular happening Tuesday, January 13 through Saturday, January 17 at the Tulsa Expo Center in Tulsa, OK.
9:59AM ( 4 months ago )
Falcons fire Mike Smith after 2nd straight losing season
Mike Smith's status as the winningest coach in Falcons history wasn't enough to save his job. Owner Arthur Blank said he fired Smith on Monday because in his "heart of hearts" he didn't believe Smith could take the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
7:58PM ( 4 months ago )
New promoters in place for 2015 at Senoia Raceway
SENOIA, GA - Lease papers have been signed and a team of new promoters is in place for the upcoming stock car racing season at Senoia Raceway in Senoia, GA.
6:00AM ( 4 months ago )
Professional Sports
Garbo, Jr. to compete in NASCAR K&N East with Whelen sponsorship
CHARLOTTE, NC--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- When Marsh Racing and longtime team sponsor Whelen Engineering Company, Inc. got the opportunity to put together a race team for 2015, they looked closely at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
12:00PM ( 5 months ago )
Former NASCAR racer pleads guilty in high-speed chase
ST. GEORGE, UT (AP)
12:51PM ( 5 months ago )
Chili Bowl entry list again nearing record 300 mark
TULSA, OK - For the past couple years, the entry list for the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals has flirted with the 300 mark. Once again, the number of teams registering for the indoor Midget event is nearing the three century mark with 285 entries received for the 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
11:59AM ( 5 months ago )
NASCAR News
Kurt Buschs ex seeks no-contact order at hearing
DOVER, DE (AP)
12:27PM ( 5 months ago )
Sprint to end NASCAR sponsorship after 2016 season
CHARLOTTE, NC (AP)
2:54PM ( 5 months ago )
Sprint Unlimited field features Chase drivers for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Coming off an exciting 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale, NASCAR announced Monday all 16 Chase drivers will be eligible to compete in the 2015 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway.
12:00PM ( 5 months ago )
Sprint Cup
VIDEO: Spring sports standouts provided countless memories for area fans
It's been an incredible few months on the prep sports scene... And we've been lucky enough to see a lot of it in person.
By Bailey Pless
5:48PM ( 17 hours from now )
Ralston guns down another tournament title, sets personal bests in process
Gainesville prep golfer Spencer Ralston began his summer tournament schedule with a bang this week, winning the Orchard Hills Junior Classic in Newnan by firing an 18-under-par 126 over 36 holes.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:59AM ( 11 hours from now )
Georgia, ex-Habersham standout McCoy chosen as Nicklaus Award finalist
Georgia golfer Lee McCoy has been chosen as one of five finalists for the 2015 Division I Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award presented by Barbasol, the Golf Coaches Association of America announced Thursday.
By UGA Sports Communications
11:00AM ( 10 hours from now )
Opinion: Gainesville's heroic effort a worthy cap to an astounding prep season
Any coach, athlete, parent or booster that follows prep sports witnessed some amazing moments over the last few weeks -- from championships (some historic), to heartbreak and everything in between, as area teams and individuals provided us with a stunning finish to the 2014-15 high school sports campaign.
9:13PM ( 3 hours ago )
North Georgia Finishes Third In PBC Commissioner's Cup Race
A banner year for the University of North Georgia athletic department was capped with a third place finish in the Peach Belt Conference's Commissioner's Cup, awarded annual to the league's top performing department.
By UNG Athletic Communications
4:21PM ( 8 hours ago )