For the first time in thirteen years, A.J. Allmendinger will race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, even if in a substitute capacity. On Thursday, GMS Racing announced Chase Purdy has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him out of the #24 Chevrolet Silverado for Saturday’s United Rentals 176 at Watkins Glen International. Allmendinger has been tapped to take over the ride in what will be his first Truck start since 2008.
“Late yesterday afternoon, GMS Racing driver Chase Purdy tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms,” read a statement from the team. “In accordance with NASCAR protocol and the CDC guidelines, Purdy will not compete in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Watkins Glen International. A.J. Allmendinger has agreed to substitute as the replacement driver of the #23 Barna Buggies Chevrolet. We wish Chase a steady recovery and hope to see him compete at the series’ next event at World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway.”
Allmendinger currently races full-time in the Xfinity Series, where he has two wins and sits second in points. He made thirteen Truck starts between 2006 and 2008, a transition period for him as he was learning to adjust to stock cars after climbing the open-wheel ladder. Driving for Bill Davis, Michael Waltrip, and Morgan Dollar, he scored three top tens with a best finish of second at Charlotte in 2007. His last Truck race was in 2008 at Fontana, where he placed seventeenth.
Placing Allmendinger in the truck for Watkins Glen seems like a no-brainer. In addition to being one of the top road racers in NASCAR, he scored his lone Cup Series victory at the track in 2014. The move also continues the interim driver relationship between GMS and Allmendinger’s team Kaulig Racing. In May, Kaulig driver Justin Haley was replaced by GMS racer Zane Smith at Dover after the former was placed in COVID-19 protocol.
The news comes on the heels of surging COVID-19 cases, which prompted NASCAR to reintroduce mask mandates when indoors on Tuesday. The development effectively knocks Purdy out of playoff contention as WGI is the final race of the regular season, whereas he is nineteenth in points with a best finish of fifteenth. Fellow Truck driver Kris Wright had also missed a race in March after a positive test.
As a driver change, Allmendinger will start the Truck race in last.