With Regan Smith enlisted to replace Earnhardt in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports, the car Smith was scheduled to drive for the first time — Phoenix Racing's No. 51 Chevrolet — had an open seat.
Accordingly, team owner James Finch hired AJ Allmendinger to drive the car at Charlotte. Reinstated as a NASCAR competitor after a failed drug test and subsequent completion of NASCAR's Road to Recovery program, Allmendinger met with Finch last weekend at Talladega.
Smith was scheduled to replace Kurt Busch in the Phoenix car after Busch took over Smith's ride in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet.