Regan Smith without a ride at Martinsville; A.J. Allmendinger gets the call
NASCAR’s silly season has had some twist and turns of its own.
Kurt Busch, who was driving Phoenix Racing’s flagship No.51 car, recently made a move to Furniture Row Racing which was vacated by Regan Smith.
Smith was slated to take over the No. 51 car for Busch as a “driver swap” one could say. But, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was ruled out for races at Charlotte and Kansas which caused controversy for Smith. He immediately took the opportunity to drive a first class car while replacing Earnhardt Jr. in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 car.
The Cato, NY native proved that he was capable of running upfront when given the opportunity to do so, possibly an audition for a Nationwide Series ride with Earnhardt’s team, JR Motorsports.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Racing had a void as they had no driver. There were viable options such as A.J. Allmendinger and Brian Vickers which could fill in. The team chose A.J. Allmendinger who had recently been reinstated by the sanctioning body after he was suspended for violating the sport’s drug policy.
However, Allmendinger hasn’t had great finishes, even though he could have came out of Kansas with a top ten if it weren’t for a flat tire on lap 69 of the event.
The team originally announced that Smith would drive the car for the remaining races of the season, but he ended up racing twice with Hendrick, catching the team off guard.
With Allmendinger’s performances, the team is giving him an extra shot. He will be racing at Martinsville this weekend, meanwhile Smith will not. It will be the first time Smith isn’t in a Sprint Cup Series race since missing a race at Phoenix in 2009.
It’s questionable whether or not Allmendinger deserves the ride after not even finishing in the top 20 in his two races with the team. Meanwhile, Smith competed for the win at Kansas and almost won the darn thing. But, he may be in the car later in the year with Phoenix Racing if they decide to go in that direction.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.