LOUDON, N.H. – Team owner Roger Penske says driver AJ Allmendinger will be back for the next Sprint Cup race if he is reinstated by NASCAR.

Allmendinger was suspended about 90 minutes before the race at Daytona International Speedway on July 7 after a urine sample taken the previous weekend at Kentucky Speedway came back positive for what his team identified only as a stimulant.

“We’re standing behind A.J,” Penske said before Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Hopefully, we’ll know something in the next week to 10 days. Our goal is, hopefully, that he’ll be fine and he’ll be back in the car in the next race. We have nothing else we can do. It’s entirely in the hands of NASCAR.”

Allmendinger’s “A” sample tested positive, and a “B” sample is to be tested this week with his toxicologist present.

The next race is July 29 at Indianapolis.

Allmendinger is driving for Penske on a one-year contract with an option for 2013.

EXPERIENCE HAS taught Denny Hamlin the best way to handle adversity.

Hamlin lost a race on Sunday that he almost certainly should have won. A mix-up over how many tires to change late in the race dropped Hamlin from the lead to 13th place for the final restart. A furious charge to the end still left him a little more than two seconds behind winner Kasey Kahne.

Hamlin settled for second despite leading 150 of the 301 laps and holding leads of more than five seconds several times.

But despite his disappointment about losing when he obviously had the fastest car, Hamlin was able to put his feelings aside and look at the positives his Joe Gibbs Racing team has racked up this year.

Heading into a rare weekend off, Hamlin is fifth in points, has two wins, and is a cinch to qualify for the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Referring to 2010, when he won a series-high eight races and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the championship, Hamlin said, “I feel like our performance right now, even though we don’t have the wins we had in 2010 at this point, I think we’re more competitive now than what we were in 2010.

“At the mile-and-a-half (tracks) we don’t have the speed we had in 2010, but we’re dangerously close competitive-wise to where we were in 2010. Now we’re just going to take that experience from then and apply it to this year.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR. continued his strong season, finishing fourth for his eighth top-five finish and 14th top 10 in 17 races.

The fan favorite remained second in the season standings, trailing Matt Kenseth by 16 points.

“We were about a tenth (of a second) off all weekend,” Earnhardt said. “I was kind of surprised, too, because we tire-tested here and were super quick and we were real happy with the car. All weekend we worked on the car real hard, and worked during the race real hard and we just couldn’t run any better than we were running.

“We’re just happy to run in the top five. We’re strong. We’ve just go to get another notch, you know, and start winning some races.”

TWO OF THE THREE caution flags that waved Sunday came out because of debris on the track, but several drivers weren’t happy about the second one.

Johnson briefly lost a lap when the yellow waved because he already had made his scheduled pit stop, while most of the other leaders had not. He came back to finish seventh, but apparently had questions about why that caution happened.

“I’m going to keep my mouth shut on that one,” Johnson said. “There was a lot of speed in the car. It was the Gibbs car (Hamlin’s) and the Hendrick cars (Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt and Johnson) and, at times, I think I was the best Hendrick car, running top two, top three. But then that caution put us back in traffic. We still got through there decent.”

Johnson remained fourth in the standings, behind Kenseth, Earnhardt and Greg Biffle.