That was done about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, and that short window doesn't bode well for this being an easily explained mistake. NASCAR moved quickly from that moment to meet with a Penske Racing official and Allmendinger, and the suspension came just as fast — and, unlike the 2009 Mayfield case — it came before the "B'' sample had been tested.
There's been no reason given why Allmendinger was not allowed to exhaust all his options before his suspension, and one can only believe that NASCAR and the MRO believed either his personal health or the safety of those on the track was an immediate concern.
But Allmendinger is in the first season of the best ride of his career, and he certainly can't be dumb enough to throw it all away, right?
On the flipside, Aegis, the laboratory that handles NASCAR's drug testing program, isn't in the business of destroying careers. They wouldn't have jeopardized Allmendinger's livelihood if they weren't certain of the test results, and certain this wasn't a big misunderstanding.
Toss in the scrutiny Aegis and its CEO David Black faced during Mayfield's long and ugly court fight, and there's no way the company would move forward on anything but an airtight case.
So everyone gossips and guesses from here, and Allmendinger's reputation may never recover.
It matters very much what the substance is because even though NASCAR's policy is zero tolerance, there's a big safety issue associated with a race car driver using recreational drugs or abusing prescription medication. Sure, a PED could provide a competitive advantage, but it isn't likely to endanger the lives of 42 other drivers.
And it matters for NASCAR's image. If there was any doubt about that, Allmendinger's teammate made it perfectly clear on Thursday at Daytona, where Brad Keselowski, in a question about the positive stories in the sport, inadvertently and unknowingly foreshadowed what was coming.
"We're one of the few sports that doesn't have a story about an athlete going to jail," Keselowski said. "Look at those sports — there's a different guy going to jail every day. We had one guy ... Jeremy got into some kind of trouble, and we're like, 'Wow, that's a big deal.'
"Guess what? Look at the other stick and ball sports, major sports, it's an everyday occurrence over there and that's something that we should be really proud of."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.