HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — Less than 14 months after a devastating blow to his career, AJ Allmendinger reclaimed a full-time ride in the Sprint Cup series.
JTG Daugherty Racing announced Saturday that Allmendinger will take over the No. 47 car from Bobby Labonte next season, capping his comeback from a positive drug test in July 2012 that resulted in a NASCAR suspension and losing his job with Roger Penske's Sprint Cup team.
"I didn't deserve a second chance," Allmendinger said during a news conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "But I worked really hard to get there."
He went through a NASCAR-mandated treatment program and managed to land a handful of one-off Cup rides, in addition to getting a chance from Penske to drive in a few IndyCar events. Allmendinger competed in the Indianapolis 500, led 23 laps and finished seventh — a performance he calls "probably the biggest moment of my career." He also won two road races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driving for Penske.
Allmendinger landed with a one-car team that includes former NBA star Brad Daugherty among its owners, having persuaded his new employers that he's improved as a person since a positive test for the prescription drug Adderall.
"It's really not hit me what happened the last 13 or 14 months," Allmendinger said. "More than anything, I wouldn't change any of it. I feel so good about it now. It's taken a lot of hard work to get where I want to be in this sport."
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