Poor judgment by NASCAR star

Published 12:14 am Saturday, October 31, 2009

When your livelihood depends on driving a car a very high rate of speed inches from other competitors, one of the worst things you could do is get arrested for driving while impaired. And in the case of A.J. Allmendinger, impaired because of alcohol.

In the early morning hours of last Tuesday, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver was arrested in Mooresville, N.C. for drunk driving. Allmendinger’s blood alcohol level tested a .08, the legal limit in North Carolina. In a statement, he indicated that, while at dinner that night, he consumed the typical “couple of drinks.”

Given Allmendinger’s slight physical stature, those couple of drinks is all that was needed to cause him to be legally drunk.

“I honestly felt fine but I obviously should have erred on the side of caution, particularly given what I do for a living,” an apologetic Allmendinger said in a written statement.

I think that might be the understatement of the year. For someone that makes much more than an average salary, is in the public eye, and races cars, there is no logical reason to put yourself in a position to even come close to being arrested for DUI.

In the aftermath, Allmendinger accepted full responsibility for his arrest and has said all the right things. That’s the bright side to this story, given the mess created with Jeremy Mayfield’s positive drug test and the associated circus that followed.

Despite having his driver’s license suspended for 30 days, Allmendinger was not suspended by RPM or NASCAR, but was put on probation until the end of the year. The ironic part to this story is that he drives for Richard Petty Motorsports and The King’s long-standing policy concerning alcohol.

For years, Petty Enterprises didn’t field a team in the old Busch series because the title sponsor was a beer company. In fact, Petty’s teams could not compete in the season-opening Bud Shootouts because his teams didn’t put the small Bud Pole Award stickers on the front fenders of their cars.

Even now, Petty wouldn’t be associated with alcohol if Budweiser had not been in place on Kasey Kahne’s car via the merger with Gillette Evernham Motorsports shortly before the season started.

Petty didn’t mince words relative to Allmendinger’s arrest. “Deeply disappointed” and “A.J. will work to make this right,” was part of Petty’s statement.

Let’s hope that Allmendinger makes the best of this situation, learns from it, and helps to keep others from making the same mistake. He is a very likable guy and I have found myself rooting for him throughout the season, he just used terrible judgment in this instance.

The superspeedway at Talladega is next on the schedule and one of only four races remaining in the season. Jimmie Johnson did nothing last week at Martinsville to keep him from winning his fourth straight cup, leaving there with a 118-point lead over Mark Martin.

Even with a slip up at Talladega, Johnson will be very difficult to beat, but I don’t think he slips up this week or any other week. I pick him to win Sunday and all but wrap up the championship.