Defending champions fall way behind in Rolex 24

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — 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.

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