Racing notes: Allmendinger resurrects a ride

AJ Allmendinger is proving that it is possible to resurrect a racing career after being suspended for violating a sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.

Allmendinger was racing in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series last summer when he failed a drug test and ultimately lost his Sprint Cup ride with Penske Racing. He completed NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program and ran four Cup races last year for Phoenix Racing.

This year’s he’s running a limited schedule for Phoenix, including this weekend’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. He’s also been hired back by Penske to drive his No. 2 Dallara/Chevrolet at this year’s Indianapolis 500 and in the April 7 IndyCar Series race at the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Ala.

Allmendinger, who won five open-wheel races in the old Champ Car World Series, spent some time this week re-acclimating himself to open-wheel cars in a test at Barber.

“We still have a long ways to go in the learning process, but I was pleased with some of the steps we were able to make [Wednesday],” Allmendinger said. “Obviously these Chevy engines are fast when you look at the best two times [of the session]. Now it is my job to start getting in front of the car and learn how to turn that speed into better lap times.”

Now it’s on to Bristol, where he hopes to build on his 11th-place finish at Phoenix two weeks ago.

“We’re off to a good start and now it’s about keeping the momentum rolling,” he said.

Clements reinstated: Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements, suspended two races for uttering a racial slur at Daytona International Speedway, has been reinstated by NASCAR and will be allowed to race at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend.

“As part of the requirements for reinstatement, Jeremy Clements participated in an individualized program with Dr. Richard Lapchick and his staff at the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, said in a statement. “In Dr. Lapchick’s judgment, Jeremy has successfully completed the program.”

Clements will be on NASCAR probation until Sept. 13, 2013.

Vickers replaces Martin: Brian Vickers returns to the seat of the No. 55 Toyota at Michael Waltrip Racing this weekend at Bristol, taking over for Mark Martin, the car's primary driver who ran the first three races of the season.

It was at Bristol last March that Vickers took a big step toward resurrecting his stalled career. He led for 125 laps, finished fifth and then went on to score three top-five and five top-10 finishes in eight starts in the No. 55.

Vickers, who is running a full Nationwide Series schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing, also is set to drive the No. 55 for Waltrip at Bristol in August, both Martinsville and New Hampshire races, and at Sonoma, Watkins Glen and Kentucky.

Stoddard finds sponsor: Crew chief-turned-car-owner Frankie Stoddard and his FAS Lane Racing team have announced that OXYwater will be the primary sponsor on the team's No. 32 Ford for 24 Sprint Cup races this season and the full schedule in 2014 and 2015.

The sponsorship begins this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway with two-time Cup champion and two-time Bristol winner Terry Labonte at the wheel.

Another veteran, Ken Schrader, and rookie of the year candidate Timmy Hill, also are part of the team’s driver lineup for this season.

Running again at Lavonia: Lavonia Speedway reopened last weekend after being closed for three years and the track's general manager, Brad York, said he was pleased with the initial results.

“We had a fantastic turnout,” he said. “It couldn’t have been much better.”

The big winners in the three-day Late Model Mania program were Riley Hickman of Chattanooga, Brent Dixon of Elberton and Kenny Collins of Colbert. In the local divisions, Rusty Jordan won the Modified Street, J.J. Garrett in Stock Four Cylinder and John Bates in Stock V-8.

Lavonia will begin a regular Friday night show next month.

Senoia Speedway will hold an open practice this Saturday, open for the season on March 30 then hold its Spring Fling 40 on April 6. Dixie Speedway in Woodstock holds its first practice on April 6 and opens its season with the Spring Championships on April 30.

Massey's debut: Douglasville's Mason Massey, 16, will make his Super Late Model debut this weekend in the 37th annual Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in Opp. He'll drive a car prepared by former NASCAR crew chief Gene Roberts. Bubba Pollard of Senoia is the defending Rattler winner.