Defending race winner AJ Allmendinger falls way back in 1st hour of Rolex 24 at Daytona

Defending race winner AJ Allmendinger is way behind in the early stages of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Allmendinger is seven laps down after breaking a piece of suspension Saturday on his Ford Riley.

Allmendinger was suspended by NASCAR last season for failing a random drug test and sent home hours before the July race at Daytona. He was hoping to make a triumphant return while defending his Rolex title.

Instead, Allmendinger and his Michael Shank Racing teammates — Oswaldo Negri, Justin Wilson, John Pew and Marcos Ambrose — could have a tough time catching up. Then again, anything can and often does happen in the 24-hour endurance test that kicks off the racing season.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Pruett and Scott Dixon were running first and second after the race's first hour.