Quote of the Week: “I don’t believe he’s one of the best road racers in NASCAR, I don’t believe he’s one of the best in the U.S., I believe he’s one of the best in the world. I’ve always respected him, but I respect him so much now because he could have easily just wrecked me, and honestly probably moved me out of the way and wrecked me and drove to the win and made the Chase and everything is great, but he didn’t.”
– Race winner A.J. Allmendinger talking about his late-race battle with Australian Marcos Ambrose in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International.
The Last Word: Speaking of A.J. Allmendinger, many might have noticed that some of the first people to congratulate the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing driver on his maiden Sprint Cup win on Sunday were his former owner Roger Penske and some of his old Penske crew members.
“He just said he was proud of me,” Allmendinger said later. “That meant the world to me because it means that to me, at least, that I’m still a part of their family, too, and they care about me.”
“The Captain,” as he’s known in the paddock, and his organisation as continues to show tremendous class when it comes to Allmendinger. Fans will recall that the driver left the Penske NASCAR outfit in July 2012 after failing a random drug test. The test that found Allmendinger had the banned substance Adderall in his system. Adderall is commonly used to treat Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
When Allmendinger completed a NASCAR recovery program a few months later, Penske offered him a few races in his IndyCar team the next season and later a couple of road course runs in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Although his six-race IndyCar experience was forgettable apart from a seventh in the 2013 Indianapolis 500, Allmendinger won both his starts in the Nationwide Series at Road America and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Now that he’s won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race, Allmendinger also looked back on the past two years with a different set of eyes.
“You know, 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. I kept telling myself, ’yeah, this is the right time for it,’ but I knew it wasn’t the right time for it,” he said.
“I wouldn’t go back and change the process because I know I am a happier person and I am a more centered person, and I know I need to keep working to get better at that still, but I’m surrounded by family, and to be able to share it together, we’ll never forget this.”
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