AJ Allmendinger will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup comeback after his drug test suspension at Charlotte this weekend, having secured the Phoenix Racing seat. The former Penske driver has not raced since being suspended on the eve of the Daytona race in July.
Allmendinger attended last weekend's race at Talladega, making his first public appearance at a NASCAR event since he was reinstated. He was subsequently linked to a possible 2013 return with Phoenix, where a void was set to be left with Kurt Busch departing to take over Regan Smith's drive at Furniture Row Racing from this weekend.
Smith was set to join Phoenix for now, but following Thursday's news that Dale Earnhardt Jr would not be able to compete in the next two Cup events due to a concussion, and Smith being called up to replace him at Hendrick, Allmendinger was immediately drafted in by Phoenix for Charlotte.
The venue is the only track where Allmendinger has won a NASCAR event, triumphing in an All-Star qualifying race in 2008 for the defunct Red Bull team.
"I'm excited, I'm actually still trying to take it in, I wasn't ready for this," said Allmendinger. "I woke up [Thursday] morning, was working out and all of a sudden saw missed calls on my phone and I was like, 'That's either good or bad'...
"It happened quick but I'm excited to be here."
It is still uncertain how many races will Allmendinger drive for Phoenix. Saturday night's will be his 170th Cup career start since his debut in 2007.