LOUDON, N.H. — Roger Penske said Sunday it was his hope to have suspended NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger back behind the wheel of his No. 22 for the Brickyard 400 July 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Speaking after the drivers’ meeting for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Penske said he hoped an upcoming “B” sample test would overturn Allmendinger’s “A” test.
When Allmendinger tested positive for a banned substance June 29, later identified as a “stimulant’’ by the driver’s representatives, NASCAR indefinitely suspended the driver. The action prompted Penkse Racing officials to deploy Nationwide Series driver Sam Hornish Jr. as an emergency replacement.
“Obviously, this situation is disappointing because of the circumstances,’’ said Penske, the car owner. “I’ve said it before, I’m more concerned about the individual than the situation, because that’ll take care of itself. There’ll be facts and figures and there’ll be an outcome.
“I think more importantly if the results go [Allmendinger’s] way, meaning positively, and he can get back in the car, he’ll be in the car at Indianapolis. If not, we’ll assess Sam’s availability.’’
Hornish, who finished fourth in Saturday’s F.W. Webb 200 Nationwide Series race, filled in for Allmendinger in Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 and finished 22d after starting 24th.
“We’ve had a lot of people contacting us and they’d like to get into the car,’’ Penske said.
“It’s a chance for us to maybe get a look at different drivers for the next several weeks. But that’s really not our plan; our plan is to have A.J. in [the car] and hopefully Sam will show if he wants to drive the car, we’ll give him that opportunity.’’
After visiting the Patriots last fall and learning the art of field goal kicking from Stephen Gostkowski, Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota, hosted three Patriots before the race: punter Zoltan Mesko and offensive linemen Ryan Wendell and Nick McDonald.
“Drivers are definitely in a different mentality and a different mind-set before the race, because you’ve got to take care of the sponsors and everything,’’ Mesko said. “You only get about 30 minutes, Joey said, before a race to yourself to mentally prepare for it. It’s a little different, but once you get into a routine you get used to everything.
“Ryan was talking, same with me, we like to get to the stadium four hours before a game, tape one little finger, walk around, have a coffee, tape another finger, just mope around, be lazy, don’t psyche ourselves out,’’ Mesko added. “We don’t have to take care of sponsors. Maybe that’s why those heated arguments [on the track] get started.’’
Wendell has expressed an interest in perhaps pursuing a career in racing as a pit crew member. “I just want to put my name in there as something after football I’d definitely be interested in,’’ Wendell said. “If any of these guys need a jack man, I’ll be there.’’
Asked how life would be like with left tackle Matt Light retired, Wendell said, “Oh man, without Matt around, it’s going to be a big difference. Our team is all about guys just doing their jobs and moving ahead and we’re going to be OK, but his personality and his voice in the locker room, especially our meeting room, it’s going to be missed.’’
Mum’s the word
Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson held his tongue when asked about the race’s penultimate caution for debris on Lap 191, which cost him precious track position and left him one lap down in 18th after he pitted under green-flag conditions in third place. “Yeah, I’m going to keep my mouth shut on that caution,’’ said Johnson, who managed to get his lap back when David Reutimann brought out the last caution on Lap 235 when his engine blew and dumped oil on the track. Johnson fought back in the final 66 laps to finish seventh in his No. 48 Chevrolet. “There was a lot of speed in the car,’’ Johnson said . . . Kasey Kahne’s victory was the first of his career at NHMS and capped a strong weekend for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. “I’ve been really up and down at this track over the years,’’ Kahne said. “I felt great in practice Friday, in qualifying. We qualified second. It was really a strong weekend for us. Felt like every time we were on the track, we were in the top 10.’’ Kahne’s victory meant a $20,000 windfall for Nashua, which selected the winning driver in a NASCAR fantasy draft along with 12 other Granite State towns as part of the Race to Benefit Education. Kahne also was presented with an 18-pound lobster as part of a new Victory Lane tradition. “It felt like 40 [pounds], it was huge,’’ Kahne said. “I guess the team is going to get all the lobster meat.’’ . . . Greg Biffle (ninth) finished highest among the three Roush Fenway Racing entries. Matt Kenseth, who remained atop the series standings by 16 points over Dale Earnhardt Jr. (707-691), finished 13th while Carl Edwards finished near the back of the lead lap in 18th. Biffle, a righthander, will be at Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch of Monday night’s game between the Red Sox and White Sox.