AJ Allmendinger is living proof that anything is possible, regardless of the ups and downs.
Allmendinger, who was suspended from NASCAR last season after failing a drug test, followed the road to recovery program and has since found himself in victory lane twice this season.
The 31-year-old California-native dominated Saturday’s inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Mid-Ohio, leading 73 of the 94 laps and besting the field on the only green-white-checkered attempt.
"In a way, I feel like I’m playing with house money because I never expected to be back here at this level," Allmendinger said. "I’m just taking it all in and having fun with it."
In two Nationwide starts this season, Allmendinger is batting 100 percent, backing up his win earlier this season at Road America.
What has been key to Allmendinger’s successful return?
His crew and sponsors, and most importantly, Penske Racing team owner Roger Penske, who stood by his side through the toughest moments.
"It’s Roger’s world and I’m living in it," Allmendinger said. "I’ll go back and I’ll celebrate this and enjoy it. And definitely take it all in as it’s happening. But I don’t let it dictate my life anymore."
Pole winner Michael McDowell finished second with newly-crowned points leader Sam Hornish Jr. in third. Max Papis and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five.
Saturday’s race also saw battered sheet metal and bruised egos.
Several Nationwide regulars were unhappy with how road course ringers raced them, and a few even expressed their displeasure after the race on Twitter.
Got used up a lot today by the "ringers"… Our team fought hard and I want to thank them a bunch. Deserved a better finish!